A Chance of Meatballs



Over breakfast, we had number five in the continuing series of inauspicious phrases to open unlikely conversations that just can’t end well: “Dad? Why did you put raisins in the meatballs?”
Granted, this is far less ominous that the all-time-winning “Say, what’s a mountain goat doing way up in these clouds?”, but it was still good for catching us flatfooted. Devon and I looked at each other with that puzzled look we often share when confronted with further evidence that our children come from another planet.
“Uh, … what?”
“There are raisins in the meatballs!”
Devon stepped up to bat first: “No, remember? Dad crushed up Saltines and mixed them in with the meat to make the meatballs fluffier.”
It’s true – yesterday was my day to cook. I’d spent some time in the afternoon baking oatmeal cookies as a care package for a sick friend. Took longer than I’d planned, since, due to a transcription error, the first batch out of the oven didn’t have nearly enough butter. I caught and remedied the error before the second sheet went into the oven, but the first dozen cookies came out as marginally edible little brown pucks.
I redeemed myself over dinner, though. Nothing fancy – just spaghetti and (turkey) meatballs, but boy, were these good meatballs. Garlic, and pepper and oregano; olive oil, crushed Saltines, and a healthy dose of pasta sauce rolled in before broiling them into savory, delectable morsels that came apart in little balls of steam. We dumped them on top of pasta, with cheese and more sauce, and had a hearty feast rounded out by pie and ice cream.
The meatballs were definitely a hit with Jem. Like his dad, he prefers to have anything but breakfast for breakfast, so when prodded to get on with his morning routine today, he pulled out yesterday’s pasta, loaded it with meatballs, threw it in the microwave, and set to work on his breakfast. We like it when he does this,and went about our own business. 
So we were a bit taken aback by his announcement-from-another-planet.
When we assured him he was mistaken, he came over to the sink to make his point: “See?”
In fact, he was mistaken, but not the way any of us expected. To be sure, it wasn’t a raisin; nor was it some dreaded entomological intruder. It was a cranberry. A dried cranberry, just like the ones I put in the oatmeak cookies I’d sent off to Bob. But how did it end up in the….?
Devon -quicker than I, as usual – got there first. “Jeremy? Where did you get the meatballs from?”
“Over there on the counter, near the microwave.”
Right where I’d left the ziplock baggie of rejected cookie pucks, awaiting disposal. I’m not sure how this little incident reflected well on any of us: on my cookies, on Devon’s meatballs, to which Jem was accustomed, or our son’s powers of discernment in food preparation.
The only one unindicted by this little event would have been Andy, had she not finally been jarred from her book by Devon’s and my laughter to look up and around and ask “Huh? What? What happened?”

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