Aunt Irma’s family get-together

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, January 15, 2014

As the fridge door opened, she surveyed the landscape, much the way a farmer inspects his cattle herd for the right show calf. Irma was having the entire Jenkins household over for dinner at her place. As was her custom, she didn’t want to disappoint, and her mind thumbed through each of the family members like index cards, pausing to reflect on their particular tastes.

Her thoughts went first, naturally, to Harry, her gregarious, outspoken, somewhat obese brother, though he was doing admirably on a popular low-carb diet sweeping the populace. Not wishing to imperil his hard-earned successes, Irma’s eyes swept past the pasta, rice and potatoes. She avoided thoughts of cakes, cookies and bread, though it eliminated some tantalizing choices for dessert. Still, it left many options, including meats, poultry and fish.

Then she thought of Harry’s wife, Crystal, who had recently declared herself pescatarian, which narrowed the choices but still left room for seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, beans, eggs, fish and shellfish.

But then their son, Nathaniel, now 24 (she couldn’t fathom he was already 24!), had recently adhered to a paleolithic diet. How could one blame him for desiring a diet proven 10,000 years ago? Were we not all hunter-gatherers at one time? But, unfortunately, that eliminated the grains and dairy products of the pescatarian diet.

Not to forget his brother, Richard, a strict vegetarian. No meat, poultry or seafood. It would have helped had he been an ovo-vegetarian (eggs but not dairy products) or a lacto-vegetarian (dairy products but not eggs). Or even a ovo-lacto vegetarian (both eggs and dairy products). But it was not to be.

And then there was Janice. Sweet Janice. It must have been about two years ago she declared herself of the vegan alliance. No meat, eggs or dairy products (it does guard against heart disease, you know).

Which left Aunt Irma with some interesting choices. She glanced again in the fridge. The first shelf was definitely out. The second shelf was not even close. And the third shelf was unquestionably forbidden. But glancing on the door, she found her one remaining solution.

Setting the five place settings on the old oak table, she reached into the door shelf and pulled out five bottles of water. “I wonder if I should filter them first?” she pondered.

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is