I had the chance to feed Buddy and Sis their dinner the other day, and when thinking ahead to the menu, I thought I’d try something easy that might be a fun change of pace. We’ve always been big breakfast fans in my family, and upending the routine to serve morning food at the end of the day can be an appealing variation (or why else would Cracker Barrel be open at all hours, and Waffle House a favorite hangout after parties? clearly the marketplace has tested this concept favorably). In my mind, the old “breakfast for dinner” act would feature scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, warm biscuits with honey, complete with homemade applesauce. Sounds pretty good, right? Harlan eating applesauce 2.16

Late afternoon soon arrived, and as the entertainment value of the activity in progress began to wane, I sought some early mileage out of my menu concept with a morsel of advance anticipation. However, it quickly became apparent that when it came to creative menu planning, I was a mere fast-food fry cook competing with the likes of Julia Child or Emeril Lagasse.

Guess what’s for dinner? I begin brightly.

“WHAT?” shouted Sis, who cares less about the particulars of the menu than the frequency at which food is proffered.

Her brother had other questions.

“Is it eyeball pizza?” he began. (Buddy has a thing about eyeballs. They loom large in his imagery and conversation. It’s probably best not to ask why.)

Nope, say I, we are all out of eyeballs for pizza topping.

“Can we have a cockroach sandwich?” he continues, picking up steam.


Could a turnip substitute for an eyeball as pizza topping?

Yuk! I retort instinctively, providing the perfect provocation to escalate the repulsion efforts.

“Then how ‘bout a crab pizza!” he enthuses, collapsing into peals of laughter at his own joke (self-appreciation of humor is another family characteristic, I might note).

I like crabs, I riposte—I’ve had crab on pizza before. It’s good.

“But this crab is alive and will PINCH YOUR GUMS OUT if you eat it!” and by now the joke has escalated to shouting, with Sis bleating her own fond appreciation of her brother’s comedy.

Then let’s don’t eat crab pizza, I answer, watching my menu idea fade rapidly away on the inspirational horizon. Our gums hold our teeth in, so we wouldn’t want that. (And why bother to address imagination with logic? It is a fool’s errand.)

“I KNOW!” comes his last and best idea. “BOOGER PIZZA!”

Wondering why nasal mucus continues to inspire small boys over the march of centuries, I am saved by the diversion of the ringing phone. When I finish this call, I think, maybe just cave in and call for pizza delivery. And inquire about the day’s most unusual toppings.