The things you think about in the split second before accidentally eating a slug

It was the kind of delicious meal that can only happen spontaneously. We came home late Sunday afternoon with no plans for supper.

Erin: What do we have?

Me: Um.... eggs?

Erin: Poached? On that nice rye?

Me: I think we have smoked salmon in the freezer.

Erin: Yeeeahhh....

Me: And those greens!

Yes, the greens. We had been advised to buy greens from a certain stall at the farmers market. A friend promised they were the best she'd ever eaten.

We moaned in silly pleasure as we ate at our picnic table. Normally, I make a dressing for the salad, but this night we just drizzled a bit of olive oil, and splashed on white vinegar. We didn't bother adding extra vegetables. The greens were seven kinds of spicy. So many different flavours and colours -- every bite, a new adventure.

Meals thrown together like this always remind me of those Erin and I enjoyed on hot summer nights in Windsor, Ontario right before we were married. I was renting a room in a house near the university. The landlord was rarely home, and we'd make these meals of whatever was new, fresh, and delicious: ears of steaming sweet corn; tomatoes picked red off the vine and sliced on a plate; baguette baked every morning at a little place around the corner; cheeses so rich and stinky we worried if maybe we wouldn't live to see the next morning.

I alternated between bites of the toast/egg/salmon and the greens. Half-way through the meal, we pulled cold bottle of white wine from the fridge and filled our glasses.

It was heaven.

I lifted my fork for what I believed was my third-to-last bite of greens and found him: a slimy, wriggly slug. Fully intact. Quite healthy and robust. The vinegar hadn't hurt him -- I suspect a healthy coating of olive oil protected him from the sprinkle of salt. He waved his tentacle-like antennae in my general direction.

I thought back to an essay I'd read several weeks earlier by Peter Gzowski. He wrote about the early days of his marriage, how he and his wife taught each other to cook. How they took foods their mothers had previously destroyed by boiling them until they were completely robbed of nutrition and flavour, and nurtured them into deliciousness.

He wrote about the first time he prepared escargot -- a food he had enjoyed many times prepared by chefs in restaurants, but never had attempted before himself. He described steaming them, slathering them in butter, and putting each one back in its own little shell with a thin sliver of garlic. He almost made it seem like something I could enjoy.


I slid my fork under my little friend and launched him backwards over my shoulder. I assume he landed somewhere in the grass near the foundation of the deck.

Erin: Aren't these greens amazing?

Me: They're alright.

Charlotte's Web: alternate plot

Over breakfast this morning...

Jane: Dad! Let's pretend Charlotte's Web!

Me: Arright. Who are you?

Jane: I'm Fern.

Me: Ok. I'm Fern's daddy.


Mr. Arable: Good morning, Fern.

Fern: (munching her toast, instantly uninterested in pretending) 'Mornin', Dad.

Mr. Arable: Some pigs were born last night.

Fern: (chewing) Mmm hmm.

Mr. Arable:
Wanna know why I'm carrying this axe?

Fern: (looks out the window)

Mr. Arable: Well, I'll tell you. One of them was born a runt.

Fern: (...)

Mr. Arable: And runts are nothing but trouble.

Fern: (takes another bite)

Mr. Arable: So, I'm going to kill it...

Fern: (...)

Mr. Arable: ...with this axe.

Fern: (...)

Mr. Arable: Don't try to stop me.

Fern: Ok, Dad.

Mr. Arable: Ok, then. (walking out the kitchen door, axe slung over his shoulder) Gonna chop that runt to bits.

Meanwhile, at Homer Zuckerman's farm...

A long silence hangs over the barn. The goose readjusts the clutch of eggs nestled beneath her feathery girth. The old sheep stands in the corner of its fold, quietly chewing its cud. Lurvy, the hired man, walks past on his way to weed the asparagus patch.

Goose: *Sigh* You ever get the sense something's missing?

Old sheep: (swallowing) Nope. (looks up to the door frame) Hey, that's a pretty web.