BREAKFAST

Mom always said you should start the day off with a good breakfast. Now Mom didn’t mean that the breakfast had to taste good. No, it had to be good for you! (Nourishing). In early grade school she attempted to feed us hot cereal. Man, was that stuff bad! The oatmeal always had lumps in it and the Cream of Wheat was just as bad. Mom finally got tired of our stalling and complaints and halfway through grade school her new idea for a “good breakfast” was eggs. ‘Lots of eggs. But I hated eggs. Scrambled eggs were a turnoff. Poached eggs were too ugly to even look at. And soft-boiled eggs were the worst of all. Mom would tell us to break up pieces of toast and put them in the cup with the soft-boiled eggs and stir it all up. I had nothing against toast --- but I would’ve rather mixed the toast up with jelly or something else. But not with eggs.

Since I wasn’t allowed to leave the table without eating my eggs, I would sit there sometimes for over an hour. On Saturdays my friends would be waiting outside for me to finish breakfast so I could go out and play ball with them. Sometimes when Mom wasn’t close by, one of my friends would sneak into the house and eat my eggs for me. Then I would show Mom my empty plate and head out the door.

Eventually, Mom learned --- or just got tired of the reality --- that I just wasn’t going to eat hot cereal or eggs --- and she relented. My favorite breakfast back then was a glass of orange juice and a bacon sandwich or cold cereal. The great thing about cold cereal back then was the neat prizes you got from inside the box or on the box or that you could send away for with the box top. My favorite cereals were Cheerios, Puffed Rice and Rice Crispies. Corn Flakes were okay, too. And so were Grape Nuts once in a while. I never liked Wheaties very much --- maybe because it was the Breakfast of Champions and I wasn’t particularly a champion. Cheerios had a deal where there would be a small Walt Disney comic book inside each box. Each comic book was about one-third the size of a real comic book. You could get a Mickey Mouse comic book, a Donald Duck one, a Goofy one --- and so on. There were eight different ones.

Another cereal had cutouts on the back where you could collect Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, his dogsled team and an entire Yukon village (the blacksmith shop, the Saloon, the hotel, etc.). I think there were also a couple bad guys. You would cut out the buildings, fold them the correct way and then stand them up. It was cool!

Another cereal had an offer where you could send away for a Lone Ranger badge with a secret compartment! I ordered a bunch of them and started my own Lone Ranger Club. Other cereals had special rings inside each box. Still others had a paper plane on the back that you could cut out, fold up and fly. Yes, cold cereal gave you something to eat --- plus entertainment!

In late grade school I discovered the morning newspaper. And as I ate my cold cereal I would read the paper --- which was another form of entertainment --- and which also had the added benefit of “being informed”. This morning ritual continued through high school. But in college I usually skipped breakfast and the newspaper. It was tough enough to roll out of bed and drag yourself to an early morning class. There just wasn’t enough time for breakfast and a paper read.

At Navy Officer’s Candidate School in Rhode Island we marched to the mess hall and went through the chow line. At least there you had a choice --- which choice you had to consume within fifteen minutes --- and then march back to the barracks for clean up time. There was no time allotted for any paper reading. We could’ve been in World War III and we wouldn’t have known about it.

Aboard a Destroyer Escort out of Galveston Texas you ate in the Wardroom if you were an officer. Stewards would serve you and you could generally have what you wanted. Cold cereal was always available as was a hot meal or two. Pancakes or eggs with bacon or sausage were usually a choice. Juice and hot coffee were standard fare. When you had the mid-watch up on the bridge (midnight to four pm) a hot cup of coffee was a must --- especially on those cold nights.

In law school I was married and the breakfast routine went back to juice, cold cereal and the morning newspaper. During the thirty-one years that I practiced law my breakfast routine changed. I still drank a glass of juice --- but instead of cold cereal I would have a chocolate Instant Breakfast. They were supposed to be more nourishing and they were good. I was still reading the morning paper --- but I was consuming an all-liquid breakfast. I would also drink coffee --- but not until I got to work. Towards the end of my practice I began to drink coffee at home on the weekends. So I was into three different liquids for breakfast.

Upon retirement the “weekend breakfast routine” became the daily breakfast routine. But since there were no longer any time restraints I started to add a Danish, a doughnut or a muffin to the all-liquid breakfast. Breakfast with the morning paper now runs about one hour on most days --- and longer on Sundays.

Yes, I enjoyed the Walt Disney comic books, the Sergeant Preston Village and the Lone Ranger badge with the secret compartment. But I realize now that I am now having the best breakfasts of all. Grade school, high school, college, the Navy, law school and the practice of law are all behind me. I can spend as much time as I please having breakfast and reading the morning paper. But the best part of all is sitting at that kitchen table across from the woman I love --- who is reading another section of the paper as she sips her coffee. She always looks cute in her bathrobe and she doesn’t like eggs either. Yes, breakfasts today are good. I think that after I finish breakfast today, I’ll go upstairs, get on the computer and write a story about breakfasts.


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