The expression “You gotta break some eggs” typically refers to those unpleasant things one must do to complete a task or meet a goal.
I enjoy re-purposing tried and true expressions to meet my needs. And today is no exception.
We are all impacted by our upbringing, random moments, and circumstances that somehow embed themselves in our psyche. Some of these moments fundamentally shape our behavior, sometimes for life. And while we are all aware of the traumas that mess us up: (physical, sexual, and emotional abuse), sometimes seemingly insignificant experiences can imprint us. Yes, even if it sounds cracked-up, the following share of a childhood experience shows that (at least for me) innocuous-looking events can have long-lasting effects.
A 70s Flashback:
We need to go back to the mid-70s. Each summer my family would spend a few weeks at my aunt’s beach house in Long Boat Key, Florida. I was lucky to have cousins close in age who were also invited, which meant I had peers to hang with. At 11, I was too old to “play” anymore and had graduated to the “hang”.
One particular cousin, three years my senior, had all my attention. How could I not be in awe? From her puka shell choker, to the on-point, bell-bottom hip huggers, to her re-enactment of the “Who wears short-shorts?” jingles, and feathered Farrah hair – she was perfect. Everything this slightly pudgy pre-pubescent girl hoped for.
(Had to share this trip down memory lane)
Late one random night, Lydia (that’s not her real name) and I were up far past the bedtime deemed appropriate by the adults. Of course we got hungry. As an 11-year-old, I headed straight for the dry goods. Lydia had other plans. Instead of sneaking cookies or raiding the pantry like typical kids (me), Lydia took it upon herself to whip up a midnight snack – eggs.
The scene is etched in my memory – the dimly lit kitchen, the sizzle of eggs in a pan, and the aroma of comfort that filled the air. Lydia turned to me and asked, “How many eggs do you want?” Fair question, right? Little did I know that this seemingly inconsequential question would become a defining moment in my culinary journey.
In my youthful innocence, I responded with genuine hunger, “Two.” “No, you can have one egg.” came the retort. Confused and taken aback, I questioned her decision. Her response, a clichéd but effective parental tactic, invoked the specter of starving children in Africa. I couldn’t argue, so I reluctantly settled for one egg.
How Many Eggs To Break?
Now, you might be wondering, why this banal incident, had such a lasting impact on my life. Now, in retrospect, I realize the power dynamics at play back then. Lydia got in my head.
“Lydia, older, prettier, smarter, and infinitely more popular, held an almost godlike status in my eyes.“
Lydia, older, prettier, smarter, and infinitely more popular, held an almost godlike status in my eyes. Her decision to limit me to a single egg was not just about eggs; it was a subtle assertion of dominance, a reminder of our age difference, and a lesson in the scarcity of resources – even when it came to something as mundane as eggs.
I developed a peculiar relationship with eggs that night. Or rather, with the number of eggs. A quirk that has followed me around for 48 years. At restaurants, I go out of my way to order dishes with a single egg, often opting for the sides menu to avoid the standard two-egg portions. If forced to order two, I seek a dining companion to share the burden, or I leave the surplus egg untouched on my plate – a silent head nod to Lydia’s starving children in Africa decree.
Time And A Half For Chickens:
Thankfully, life has a funny way of challenging our deeply ingrained habits and beliefs. It reminds us that our past, no matter how trivial or seemingly inconsequential, can shape our present in ways we may not fully comprehend until we confront and challenge. And it gives us opportunities to choose differently.
Earlier this week, faced with a need for extra protein and a shortage of groceries, I found myself standing at a crossroads. The refrigerator held only two lonely eggs, and the decision was mine to make. In a conscious act of defiance against my the self-imposed constraints of my past, I cracked not one but two eggs into my poacher.
Two eggs. No one to share them with. Lydia, nowhere in sight to reprimand me. Did I eat them both? Suffice it to say I will be going through my egg supply twice as fast moving forward.