My Grossest Birthday Gift Ever

In this post I described the birthday cake that was inflicted upon me this past week. As I was writing that, I remembered the only other birthday on which I was truly and totally grossed out.

It was about eleven years ago. We were in the dining room of Mom and Virgil’s old place near Harrison. Diamondqueen was there with her new husband, That Poor Man. There were no Hooligans yet, although there WAS Bailey the beagle and little Ginger, Mom’s dachshund mix.

We’d had dinner, and I was opening gifts before we got to the cake. It was our usual cake from Servatii’s, our favorite Cincinnati bakery (luscious cake with frosting to die for). I picked up a small wrapped gift and tore it open to discover a little photo album with “My Family” emblazoned on the front. “Aw,” I said, and flipped to the first picture — then screamed in horror and dropped the album to the table.

I have this thing about people with stuff on their mouths. It makes me ill. It has for as long as I can remember. In first grade, a boy in my class came up to me at lunchtime and said something with flakes of glaze and spots of jam from a danish all over his mouth. I took one look at him and threw up in my hand. I couldn’t help it. And I can’t help it now. I don’t know where this reaction comes from. I no longer throw up, but I do get nauseous.

Consequently, there have been commercials that I simply couldn’t watch, especially if I was eating. There was one for a steakhouse (I can’t remember which), but it had a cowboy with his mouth covered in barbecue sauce. I hate the commercial for Campbell’s soup where the guy’s gone orgasmic over his little microwave cup of tomato, the remnants of which surround his lips. I’ve never understood why advertisers think it’s appealing to show kids with food smeared all over their mouths. It’s not. And don’t get me started on the “Got Milk” campaign where celebrities were photographed with a milk moustache. Agggh! It was even worse when I found out it wasn’t milk, but some other concoction they had to whip up so the milk would really show up on the photo subject’s upper lip.

I think it might have been my reaction to the “Got Milk” moustache campaign that inspired Diamondqueen to create her special birthday gift for me. For inside that little album entitled “My Family” were snapshots of my loved ones, each with Cool Whip smeared across his or her upper lip.

Mom, Virgil, Diamondqueen; my brother and my young niece and nephew; That Poor Man, even the dogs (Virgil was posed with Ginger, who had Cool Whip under her nose, while Bailey with That Poor Man didn’t have much cream left because she kept licking it off).

I was horrified and green around the gills, which was exactly the reaction Diamondqueen had worked so hard to achieve. My stomach rumbling, I didn’t really enjoy my birthday cake that year. It didn’t help that Diamondqueen kept generously smearing that miraculous frosting on her upper lip and leering at me.

In fact, Diamondqueen continues to do that stunt at just about every meal, regardless of the occasion: mayonnaise, pudding, sour cream, you name it. She has to do it on the sly and not bring too much attention to it because J.Hooligan’s stomach is about as weak as mine regarding such things. Diamondqueen used to have to put a cereal box between J. and S.Hooligan when the latter was a baby because the sight of S. and her messy eating put J. off his feed. Since it’s a battle to get J. to eat period (except for chocolate and ice cream), Diamondqueen doesn’t need anything else to upset him. One time when she overtly tried to sicken me with the upper lip hijinks, J.Hooligan spotted her, gagged, and set up a wail.

That’s not enough to keep me safe, but at least Diamondqueen’s stunts aren’t prolonged. And she does it so much, I’ve become a little conditioned and a little more in control of my stomach. As long as I don’t think about that first grade classmate wearing his danish around his lips…

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