Ok, on we go.
My dad always treated us like grown-ups when my sisters and I were younger-- he trusted us to think like adults at the ages of seven and five, which (looking back on it) was appreciated, but foolish.
Over dinner the other night we were recalling the disastrous occasion when he asked me to make him a dagwood. A dagwood, for those of you who don't know, is one of the sandwiches Dagwood Bumstead eats in the comic strip "Blondie," -- a sandwich famous for being several feet in height. I was excited at having been chosen to create this culinary masterpiece
"It's in your hands, Kelly," he said. "Make me a Dagwood."
"What do you want in it?" I asked.
"Whatever you think would be good," he said, disappearing into the bedroom.
Opening two slices of bread onto a cutting board, I assessed the contents of the refrigerator. Removing the leftover cold cuts, I lay them in a pile on the first piece of bread. The salami, cheese, ham, and turkey combined raised the sandwich to a height of an inch and a half. My face fell-- this was supposed to be the bulk of the sandwich and it had barely risen beyond the height of a peanut butter and jelly. I dug out last weeks comic strips to study the picture.
Lettuce-- his sandwich had lettuce. With a knife no seven year-old should have access to, I sliced lettuce and tomatoes and piled them neatly around the lunchmeat. I then took several olives, cut them in half, and layered them into the tower. It was still embarrassingly stout; I needed something with substance. I halfheartedly threw some carrots on the top and used them to steady a half of a peach. The peach was nice, I thought. It added an easy inch and a half and wasn't difficult to prepare.
I furrowed through the drawers, coming across a stash of dry foods and desert items. I decided it might be interesting to make one half of the sandwich a "dinner" sandwich, and the other half a "dessert" sandwich. I then lined the dinner slice of bread with mustard and the dessert slice with vanilla frosting. On the dinner side I removed the peach temporarily (for balancing reasons) and added peanuts, casaba melon, peanut butter, and cornflakes.
"Are you sure daddy wants you putting all that in his sandwich?" my mother asked, nervously. My mother was such a nag, I thought. I couldn't believe I put up with her sometimes.
"He said whatever I thought would be good," I told her, and was thankful when she walked away.
The dessert side grew more rapidly, as many of the dessert items lent the sandwich a good deal of height. The brownies served as a steady base, being an inch tall at their thinnest, and served as support for the Vienna Fingers, Marshmallows, Animal Crackers, and caramel that complemented the green peppers, orange slices, and onions on which they sat. The sandwich was impressive, I thought. Not as tall as it was in the comic, but taller than any sandwich I had ever seen, although, in all honestly, it didn't look like any sandwich I had ever seen. My dad was going to be so excited.
I called my dad to the kitchen. I was so excited to see his face because I knew how happy he would be about this AWESOME sandwich that I had made him. And my dad was excited about everything-- every drawing I brought home from school was like the next moon landing, so something as impressive as this...this might just make me the favorite daughter.
And I knew there was something wrong because his excitement halted for a minute-- he came into the room exuberant, stopped short, as if he had watched someone get hit by a truck, and then re-plastered a moderately unconvincing smile on his face.
"Oh Kelly, this looks so, so...interesting."
I politely explained to my dad what I had done; how I had divided the sandwich into halves, how I had used food coloring to liven up the bread, how he had to be really careful because it kept tipping over.
"Try it," I told him. "You'll have to squish it down."
And to his credit, he made an effort to crush the sandwich slightly, squeezing it enough to propel the half-peach out onto the counter, knocking several of the peanuts out with it. From what I remember he even took a few bites before saying, "Ok, wow, that was really an interesting sandwich, Kelly. Why don't you and I practice making sandwiches together?
And so we did, though this next sandwich was nowhere near as tall, or colorful. We sliced vegetables and cold cuts, topped them with the usual condiments, and placed them between two boring, too-close-together slices of bread. I remember a horrible feeling of rejection, my father having discarded something I had worked so hard to create.
Right then, I felt as if the whole world had turned against me.
Looking back on it now, I think I may have possibly been the stupidest, most over-dramatic kid who ever lived.