Two summers ago, the hubs and I took our boys to a state fair.
As we strolled the sidewalks perusing kiosks, we happened upon one that advertised alligator on a stick.
My older son was 4 years old at the time, and his already-big eyes grew even bigger. I mean, imagine the awe that the stand must have inspired in him. The boy watched so many alligator hunting shows on TV that it would have been like meeting a celebrity.
Granted, a celebrity that’s been chopped up, breaded, fried, salted, and shoved onto a skewer—but still. A celebrity.
The hubs and I promised him that we would come back during lunch and have some alligator on a stick. In the meantime, we built it up all day, saying things like, “Hey, buddy, it’ll be noon in—" checking watch—“an hour and a half. You’ll get your alligator on a stick!” or “You know, Mom and Dad have eaten alligator before,” as the hubs and I exchanged self-satisfied smiles over the kids’ heads.
It was true. We had eaten alligator before—on a pizza during a visit to the town where Paris Hilton had filmed The Simple Life. That trip to Altus, Arkansas, was one of my many brushes with fame…although I do believe that I’d rather have seen her chopped up, breaded, fried, salted, and shoved onto a skewer…
But oh—that’s just wishful thinking. I didn’t even actually meet her. I just posed next to (read: got drunk and threw eggs at) a street sign bearing her name in honor of…?
But I still stand by the skewer thing. (Calm down, Paris Hilton rights activists. I’m only kidding.)
Anyhoo, the moment the second hand, the little hand, and the big hand all pointed straight up to signify NOON, we rushed to the alligator stand.
Our little guy was beside himself with excitement, grabbing the small metal shelf of the kiosk and jumping up and down to get a glimpse into the window where the alligators were being fried. Finally, my husband picked him up so that he could get a better look.
The woman working the window, who we learned was married to the man working the fry daddy, came to take our money and took a moment to smile out at our son.
“Do you like alligator, kiddo?” she asked, accepting the hubs’s fiver.
Our son shrugged, those eyes as wide as saucers. “I don’t know,” he breathed. “I’ve never had it before.”
The woman smiled broadly. “Well, you’re in for a big treat then. You just wait. It’ll be ready in about 3 minutes.” She turned to go give her husband a hand, but before she got even a foot away from us, our son called out to her.
“Um, miss?” he called.
“Yeah, kiddo?” she responded, turning back to us.
Our son’s face was alight with anticipation, and I could only imagine his next question. You never knew with this one, but it was usually something adorable.
“Did you wrestle the alligator yourself?” he whispered, prepared to be amazed.
By this time, the woman was leaning out the window, propped up on her elbows. We all let out a laugh at how cute the question was. When the woman had stopped chuckling, she stood up straight to give full attention to answering my boy’s question.
“Oh, heavens, no,” she said, sweeping the question away with a quick flick of her wrist. “We buy it frozen and prepackaged from Louisiana. It’s even cut into the little cubes already by the time we get it. Wanna see?”
Without waiting for an answer, she disappeared into a squat for a second, rustling around somewhere below the window. When she popped back up, she was holding a crinkly plastic bag full of grayish-white alligator.
HOLY SHIT. I mean, seriously, HOLY SHIT. Why didn’t she just tell him that there’s no Santa Claus, either??
(For those of you youngsters whose parents are obviously doing a really shitty job of monitoring your internet consumption, causing you to land on this blog and stay long enough to read a post: Santa IS, actually, real. And sometimes brown.)
After we’d gotten our alligator and thanked the lady, the hubs and kids and I began to walk back to the car. I watched my 4-year-old for a little bit and noticed that he seemed a bit dispirited.
“She didn’t mean it,” I said.
He looked up at me, alligator-on-a-stick cooling in his hand, renewed hope in his eyes. “You think she was lying?”
The hubs shot me a look, but I chose to ignore it.
“Yeah,” I said, nodding my head in that wise parental way that I only realized was total bullshit when I became a parent myself. “She totally wrestled that alligator. Probably in a violent, bloody mess.”
I heard the hubs sigh, but I decided to ignore that, too.
“Really, Mom?” my son asked, that awe returning to his eyes.
“Yes,” I responded. “She probably lost a dog—or maybe even a parent or sibling—during the fight. I mean, look at how big those chunks of alligator are,” I said, pointing down at his stick. “Obviously that thing ingested something really big right before he died.”
My son nodded, satisfied. Right about that time, the alligator had cooled off enough for him to take a bite. He chewed for a second just before throwing the stick onto the ground. “That’s gross,” he said.
Now, I’m not saying that the alligator on a stick fell into a pile of poop from a petting zoo animal that had passed by earlier. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that if it would have, I probably still would have done what I did, which is picked that motherfcker up and ate it myself.
You could fry a grown-out armpit hair, and I’d eat it.
LOVE me some fried food.
I’m not sure if I love it because of the taste, or because it always seems to propel me into a sense of nostalgia for my bar whore days, where I’d pair any kind of fried food with 25 vodka tonics before jumping straight into the sack with a random dude that I’d only just met that night.