Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Elizabeth and Jason were here for lasagna tonight. She and Phil reminisced about the pasta dinners of years gone by.

"Remember the spaghetti war?" one of them said. Then they went on to revel in the glories of a bunch of family members disobeying--the father of the group the biggest disobeyer of them all.

I think I remember how it started. Dinner was over. We were sitting at the table talking and one of the kids was playing in the leftover spaghetti with a fork. I never could figure out how much spaghetti to cook--still can't--and so there was half a serving bowl left. One of the kids asked how you tell if spaghetti noodles were cooked long enough.

"Well, supposedly, if you throw a strand of spaghetti on the ceiling, and it sticks, it's done."

Oh, oh, I thought. I hope no one picks up on that.

It was too late. Strands of spaghetti whanged toward the ceiling like lava steams, escaping from violently erupting volcanoes.

"All right, all right," I said. "Enough of that. Calm down."

Phil looked at me and I could see all his intelligence leaking out his ears. A primeval man hunkered down, his gnarly hand posed over the bowl holding the pasta. Two hoary fingers reached in, plucked a strand of spaghetti and before my very eyes the beast flung a noodle in my direction. I ducked and tried once again.

"All right, now...."

That's as far as I got. Spaghetti flew in my direction from the hunkered beast's offspring. Whap. Whap. Whap-whap-whap.

I fled. A lone woman with common sense and dignity. I looked around the corner to see total anarchy reigning. A Dad with spaghetti hanging from his ears. Children with spaghetti in their hair. Spaghetti hanging from the light fixture. Spaghetti on the paintings, on the wall, on the clock. Spaghetti everywhere. Laughter, insane laughter filled the air.

"There she is," someone said. Spaghetti whinged in my direction from all directions. Whap, whap, whap. I fled to the bathroom to pick spaghetti off my face. I sat on the step, out of sight and out of range. Occasionally I'd offer advice:

"Okay, play time is over."

I was answered with nothing but maniacal laughter.

"You are going to have to clean all that up!"

"We will," they all chorused, including Phil.

The war went on for a long, long time. When the bowl was empty they plucked used pasta off each other and threw it again. When the used pasta started to disintegrate they rolled it into pasta balls and threw those. They only quit because everyone was too tired to throw another strand. I poked my head around the door again. They somehow revived and magically found more spaghetti and it all came whining my way. I ducked back out of sight.

Finally the Neanderthal haze cleared from Phil's eyes and he became a dad.

"Okay, kids. Let's clean up."

"Aaw, Dad."

"No, I mean it. Let's clean up. Put all the pasta in the bowl."

When about half of the mess was cleaned up the beast clutched the bowl to his chest. "Suckers," he said. He grabbed a handful of ragged pasta and threw it in every direction.

Screams of delight sounded in the kitchen, drowning out the groans of the sensible person sitting on the steps.

"They are insane," I said to myself. "It comes from Phil's side. It will take generations to breed the insanity out."

When they finally called it quits the kitchen looked like a mad elf had decorated for Christmas. And to give everyone credit, they did clean up. Kind of. We plucked petrified spaghetti off various parts of the kitchen for what seemed like years.

Which, one day was the catalyst for the, "Let's see what else will stick to the ceiling" science project that my GROWN UP BOYS participated in, but that's a story for another day.


Ekim said...

That is funny. I guess every family needs a little Neanderthal.

Aprilyn said...

Haha! I love it! I would have joined in the Spaghetti War. That sounds like a wonderful memory for your kids.

Colette Amelia said...

Are you sure they didn't get food throwing from your mother and her biscuits and gravy?

my goodness eating as a contact sport!

Cindy said...

I love the part when Phil started throwing spaghetti again after they cleaned it up!! Too funny!!

What did you all have for dinner that night???

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

Cindy, the war started after dinner. I've edited it so that is more clear. Thanks for the question. It helps the story to read better.

N7GMT said...

By cowering, you missed the very best bit of the Great Spaghetti War: someone flipped the perfect strand at the perfect velocity with the perfect spin ... and it wound up giving Dad a perfect racing strip from between his eyebrows up and over his balding pate. Pure poetry. There was a brief pause as we all surveyed the accomplishment, then back to the trenches!