During the commercials, we can get snacks. Eating while watching television – it’s the perfect pairing. My father likes to have an apple; my mother takes a little bowl of black licorice nubs. I don’t remember what my brothers have. I head for the kitchen, open the refrigerator and peer into its illuminated insides. I consider carefully until I know what I want: cheese.
Kraft American slices – the orange ones, each individually wrapped. I get one in my lunchbox sometimes. Tonight I slip one out of the package where a stack of them looks like shiny corduroy. I bring the piece back to the den intact, and as the program resumes, I start in.
I begin by lifting the cellophane and pulling it back to expose about a third of the slice of cheese, which I fold onto the rest of the slice and watch as it breaks off in a straight line, its edge jagged. I continue folding that third horizontally until I end up with three plastic-y squares. I put one on my tongue and let it sit; the cheese doesn’t dissolve, but it gets warmer, and creamier, and I mash it against the roof of my mouth. Flavor emanates – impossible to describe – a sweet saltiness that is somehow orange itself. Satisfying. It doesn’t take long before I’ve swallowed it, but its taste lingers within the cavern of my mouth.
I do this with the other two squares I’ve already broken off. Then I peel away more cellophane, fold another third and repeat the process until I’m left with the clear, weightless wrapper. Ed Sullivan continues; my father sucks the juice from his apple core. At the next commercial, I get up and toss the paper into the little brown wastebasket under my father’s desk.
~ Susan Hodara