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A Plate of Peas 一盘豌豆

A Plate of Peas

My grandfather died when I was a small boy, and my grandmother started staying with us for about six months every year. She lived in a room that doubled as my father’s office, which we referred to as “the back room.” She carried with her a powerful aroma. I don’t know what kind of perfume she used, but it was the double-barreled, ninety-proof, knockdown, render-the-victim-unconscious, moose-killing variety. She kept it in a huge atomizer and applied it frequently and liberally. It was almost impossible to go into her room and remain breathing for any length of time. When she would leave the house to go spend six months with my Aunt Lillian, my mother and sisters would throw open all the windows, strip the bed, and take out the curtains and rugs. Then they would spend several days washing and airing things out, trying frantically to make the pungent odor go away.

This, then, was my grandmother at the time of the infamous pea incident.

It took place at the Biltmore Hotel, which, to my eight-year-old mind, was just about the fancies place to eat in all of Providence. My grandmother, my mother, and I were having lunch after a morning spent shopping. I grandly ordered a Salisbury steak, confident in the knowledge that beneath that fancy name was a good old hamburger with gravy. When brought to the table, it was accompanied by a plate of peas.

I do not like peas now. I did not like peas then. I have always hated peas. It is a complete mystery to me why anyone would voluntarily eat peas. I did not eat them at home. I did not eat them at restaurants. And I certainly was not about to eat them now.

“Eat your peas,” my grandmother said.

“Mother,” said my mother in her warning voice. “He doesn’t like peas. Leave him alone.”

My grandmother did not reply, but there was a glint in her eye and a grim set to her jaw that signaled she was not going to be thwarted. She leaned in my direction, looked me in the eye, and uttered the fateful words that changed my life: “I’ll pay you five dollars if you eat those peas.”

I had absolutely no idea of the impending doom. I only knew that five dollars was an enormous, nearly unimaginable amount of money, and as awful as peas were, only one plate of them stood between me and the possession of that five dollars. I began to force the wretched things down my throat.

My mother was livid. My grandmother had that self-satisfied look of someone who has thrown down an unbeatable trump card. “I can do what I want, Ellen, and you can’t stop me.” My mother glared at her mother. She glared at me. No one can glare like my mother. If there were a glaring Olympics, she would undoubtedly win the gold medal.

I, of course, kept shoving peas down my throat. The glares made me nervous, and every single pea made me want to throw up, but the magical image of that five dollars floated before me, and I finally gagged down every last one of them. My grandmother handed me the five dollars with a flourish. My mother continued to glare in silence. And the episode ended. Or so I thought.

My grandmother left for Aunt Lillian’s a few weeks later. That night, at dinner, my mother served two of my all-time favorite foods, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Along with them came a big, steaming bowl of peas. She offered me some peas, and I, in the very last moments of my innocent youth, declined. My mother fixed me with a cold eye as she heaped a huge pile of peas onto my plate. Then came the words that were to haunt me for years.

“You ate them for money,” she said. “You can eat them for love.”

Oh, despair! Oh, devastation! Now, too late, came the dawning realization that I had unwittingly damned myself to a hell from which there was no escape.

“You ate them for money. You can eat them for love.”

What possible argument could I muster against that? There was none. Did I eat the peas? You bet I did. I ate them that day and every other time they were served thereafter. The five dollars were quickly spent. My grandmother passed away a few years later. But the legacy of the peas lived on, as it lives on to this day. If I so much as curl my lip when they are served (because, after all, I still hate the horrid little things), my mother repeats the dreaded words one more time: “You ate them for money,” she says. “You can eat them for love.”

  一盘豌豆

  在我还是个小孩的时候,我的外公去世了。自那以后,外婆每年里有6个月跟着我们过。她的房间是我父亲办公室的两倍大,被我们称作“里屋”。她身上总带着浓郁的香气;我不知道她用的是哪种香水,但这种香水的味道非常地强烈,刺鼻、令人窒息,简直能把人熏晕,把驼鹿熏死。外婆将它装在一个巨大的喷瓶里,并经常频繁地喷洒。要走进她的房间,保持正常呼吸几乎是不可能的。当她离开去莉莲姨妈家住另外6个月的时候,妈妈和姐姐们总会迫不及待地打开所有的窗户、拆开被子、取下窗帘和地毯。接着的几天里,她们就一直在洗东西、晾东西,倾尽全力地趋散那种刺鼻的气味。

  就在奶奶住在我们家时发生了豌豆事件,一件让我耻辱的事。

  事情发生在比尔特摩饭店。在当时年仅8岁的我的眼里,那是全普罗维登斯最好的饭店了。一天,外婆、妈妈和我逛了一个上午的街,然后走进比尔特摩饭店吃午饭。我相当郑重地点了一道索里兹伯里牛排,想当然地认为在那考究的菜名后面是盘美味可口的牛排,上面还淋着肉汁的那种。牛排被端上桌时,还伴着一盘豌豆。

  我不喜欢吃豌豆,当时也不喜欢。我从来都讨厌吃豌豆。我真是不理解为什么有人会愿意去吃豌豆。在家我不会吃,在餐馆我也不会吃,当时我也不准备吃。“把豌豆吃了。”外婆说。

  “妈,”母亲提醒外婆说,“他不喜欢吃豌豆,您就随他吧!”

  外婆没有回答,但她眼睛冒光,下巴僵直,流露出一副不甘心挫败的神情。她向我靠过来,盯着我的眼睛,说了一句改变我一生的话:“你吃掉那些豌豆的话,我就给你5美元。”

  我对即将发生的厄运一无所知,我只知道5 美元是笔很大的一笔财富,可一盘豌豆成了拦路虎。尽管豌豆很难吃,可为了拿到5美金,我还是强迫自己往下咽。

  我母亲脸色铁青,而外婆却是一脸的得意洋洋,就像刚在牌桌上甩出杀手锏一样,“只要我想要做的,我就能做到。埃伦,你是阻止不了我的。”我母亲生气地瞪着自己的母亲,也瞪着我。没有人可以像我母亲那样瞪着眼睛,如果有个瞪眼奥林匹克比赛的话,她一定能拿金牌回来。

  当然了,当时我还在往自己喉咙塞豌豆。愤怒的目光让我紧张,每颗豆子都让我想吐,可5美元那美妙的影子一直在我眼前飘浮。终于,我咽下了最后一颗豆子。外婆很夸张地递给我5美元,母亲还在沉默地怒视着。总算告一段落了!至少当时我是那么认为的。

  几周后,外婆去了莉莲姨妈家。一天晚饭时,母亲做了两道我一直最喜欢吃的菜――肉饼和土豆泥。和它们一起的,还有一大碗热气腾腾的豌豆。她给了我一些,而我拒绝了,那也正是我纯真时代终结的一刻。母亲冷冰冰地看着我,一边向我的盘子里加了一大堆的豌豆。而后从她口里说出的话,萦绕在我心里,好多年都没有散去。

  “你可以为钱吃了它们,”她说,“你就可以为爱吃了它们。”

  哦,天哪!哦,太惨了!事到如今,我才顿悟:不知不觉中,我已将自己推进万劫不复的地狱,但一切为时已晚。

  “你可以为钱吃了它们,就可以为爱吃了它们。”

  我能有什么样的理由来反驳呢?没有!我无话可说。那后来我吃了没有呢?当然,我吃了。在那一晚,我吃了。之后每次上豌豆的时候,我都吃了。5美元很快就被花掉了,外婆也在几年后过世,而豌豆事件的影响却一直还在,直到如今。如果我看到豌豆就撅嘴的话(因为,无论如何,我仍然憎恶这些讨厌的小东西),母亲就会又一次重复那令我畏惧的话:“你可以为钱吃了它们,”她说,“就可以为爱吃了它们。”

(文章来源:疯狂英语)

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