As a kid, I remember my stomach growling in church.
The lady who sat in the pew in front of us wore a fur wrap that still had the fox head attached. One Sunday morning, as my stomach began growling during a verse of "How Great Thou Art," Mrs. Fox Head raised a finger to her left ear to signal that my digestion was messing up her perfect pitch.
My mother, mortified, put an index finger to her lips, as if to say: "Son, please be quiet."
"What should I do?" I replied, frantic to shush my gut. I even tried a self-administered Heimlich maneuver.
As the sermon droned on, my stomach yearned for lunch. I thought of the feast awaiting us at home: round steak with mushroom gravy simmering in a Crock Pot, cornmeal-battered okra ready for the deep fryer, home-grown tomatoes sliced and dusted with table salt, hand-snapped green beans prepared in a pressure cooker with bacon drippings and new-potato wedges, squash casserole topped with buttered Ritz cracker crumbs, cornbread baked in an iron skillet.
As they used to say on "Hee Haw" - Yum. Yum.
Food is the great divide between me and my sons, ages 9 and 4. If my boys had to subsist on old-time country cooking, they would starve. My guys wouldn't eat a green bean if I put them under anesthesia and shot it down their throats with a blow gun.
My 9-year-old son once mused after ordering a fried chicken breast at a downtown restaurant: "How did they get that chicken on a bone like that, Daddy?"
My sons' idea of a mouthwatering meal is chicken nuggets and yogurt washed down with grape Gatorade.
When I was a kid in the 1960s, we got one Popsicle a year for perfect school attendance. Now, my boys think they are being mistreated if they don't get two or three a day.
My sons don't eat meals; they eat appetizers to prime their taste buds for a dawn-to-dusk buffet of snacks: pretzels, frozen grapes, apple wedges, grated cheese, dry cereal, boiled eggs, saltine crackers, dried cranberries.
I have watched my 9-year-old son eat enough pretzel sticks in one sitting to build a log home. My 4-year-old son will gnaw the icing from a hunk of cake like a starving beaver.
They don't eat horribly, but they do eat constantly. I would be worried if they weren't both of no more than average weight.
Someone once asked me earnestly what we fed my older son, who has done well at cross-country running.
I evaded the question, muttering something like "nothing special." His actual prerun meal was a cheeseburger and Skittles.