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The Legend of Big Mark Hampton and the Tea Party

By @gwhollan

THE PARTY

A short time before noon, I ambled out to the breakfast table to announce that I was hungry. I had never seen such fare as the incredible dishes that adorned that buffet. There was a silver platter teetering with finger sandwiches having exotic fillings that included cream cheese. There were curved dishes filled with curled carrot peelings, radish rosettes, and a relish that included sweet pickles and cocktail onions. There were dishes of olives, cubed cheeses of several flavors, club crackers, and a basket of the most delicious-looking dinner rolls. Above all else that caught my eye, there was a pyramid centerpiece constructed of cherry tomatoes with the top layer each wearing a tiny paper crown. I thought I had somehow been transported to epicurean heaven.

Mother just managed to snag my collar before both my outstretched hands befouled even one of those magical delicacies. She sat me in her lap and gave me such a tender look that even my deepest sense of outrage and deprivation were soothed. She promised me that if I would just return to Little Mark’s room and play until after the guests left, she would take me to Pop Allen’s drugstore soda fountain and let me eat ice cream until I puked. Since that was the only time in my life that I had received such an offer, I accepted and left with visions of strawberry ice cream squirting out of my ears.

Back in Little Mark’s room, I was barely aware of guests arriving, taking their designated places, then filing to the breakfast table to fill their delicate little plates with the magical food that, in my mind, I now replaced with visions of chocolate ice cream being used to shampoo my hair. I had reached into Little Mark’s toy drawer to extract another plaything when out of nowhere Bellie rocketed into the room like a maniacal bowling ball. Without the slightest hesitation, she slammed into the toy drawer catching my fingers at the second knuckle. It wasn’t the pain to which I reacted but the certainty that all four fingers had surely been amputated by Bellie’s satanical act. The scream erupting from my throat was epic. Any poor dog that was unfortunate to be within a half-mile of the Hampton home would surely have been struck instantly deaf.

Thus began The Legend.

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