Mouth Full by Paige Lindsay
How many mouths have been wrapped around your forks, your spoons, and, on rare and daring occasions, your knives? Whose lips have decorated your glasses with foggy, occasionally scarlet, kisses? We have all eaten from this bowl, this simple wooden vessel. A mother, her daughter, her son and his wife, her granddaughter. It has been across the country twice and it is older than you.
My mother taught me that kitchens should be painted with colours named after food. Each new home demanded a trip to the closest hardware store where she would tell the teenager slouched under the gently swaying paint department sign: I want walls the colour of exactly the right amount of cream in my coffee, the flesh of expertly barbecued steelhead trout, the inside of a ripe avocado.
Uh, I think we just have regular avocado? I’m not sure if it’s ripe. I’ll ask my manager?
Amongst Palest Pistachio, Vanilla Cream, Hot Mustard and Summer Plum, we find what we are looking for.
When the kitchen is ready, we strip down to nothing and turn the walls into a feast. My mother helps me paint bikes, suns, and cats onto the wall with a brush and shows me how to cover them with a roller. She tells me that a kitchen is a place for talking, creating, tasting, muttering, crying, and mostly, hopefully, laughing. Imagine if it were painted with a colour named something absurd like Mountain Mist, or even worse, Tranquility? Wouldn’t that be completely wrong? We are covered in bright orange-yellow flecks of Nacho Cheese.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? I’m holding a clipboard and a marker and wearing my uncle’s fedora, which obscures nearly everything. I am, at age five, only interested in absolutes, in ardent sincerity, in desert island scenarios. I’ve prepared my answer, having given it considerable thought. Chocolate cake with raspberry jam filling and also coins, wrapped in tinfoil, baked into the batter. My mom selects her mother’s scalloped potato casserole. My aunt picks handmade gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce. My uncle chooses books.
You want to eat your words?
Exactly, he says.
Do they fill you up?
Sometimes, but at their best they make me hungry.
In the two decades since, I have often found myself between these two modes, of being full and asking for more. Perplexed and amazed at how you can eat crow, eat dirt, eat humble pie, eat your cake and have it too, eat your hat, eat your heart out, eat out of someone’s hands, eat someone for breakfast, and still be hungry.