In which, I do not eat a worm...
One of the great joys of my childhood came from turning over rocks.
Always, something fascinating would appear -- beetles, pillbugs, centipedes, millipedes, snails, and even black widow spiders (uh-oh) or unexpected snakes (yikes!).
The bigger and flatter the rock, the better the findings.
In our backyard, near the southeast corner of our sandstone house and just up a slight incline from the mulberry tree where my brothers and I almost struck oil, there lay a large, flat sandstone rock left over from our home's construction many years before I was born.
That rock seemed providentially shaped and placed to tempt my ready hands, but it proved too large for me to turn over by myself.
I knew that my older brother, Pat, wouldn't help me because he found bugs somewhat less than fascinating ... maybe even repellent.
But I needed an accomplice and found one in my brother Tim, who was two years my junior but always big and strong for his age. He eventually grew so big and powerful and bearded in his late teenage years that everybody called him "animal." At the time that he helped me, though, he was only a cub, so it took our combined muscles to tip the rock over.
And we found treasure. Big, fat, juicy earthworms withdrawing from the unwonted, unwanted light.
We snatched a couple before they could draw back into their holes and raised them high aloft to better view their full glory, our mouths agape in wonder at the long, thick worms dangling just above our heads.
At that instant, Pat rounded the northeast corner of our house and glimpsed the two of us holding worms directly over our wide-open mouths.
"Yuck!" he exclaimed and ran off. Within 30 seconds, grandfather appeared, thunderating that we "Stop eating those worms."
"We're not eating worms," I said. "We're just looking at them."
Pat, however, was certain that he had seen us eating worms, and he firmly maintains that view till this very day.
Grandfather, on the basis of Pat's report, was convinced that we were eating worms. Grandmother, persuaded by grandfather's conviction, concluded that we had been eating worms. Everyone in the family believed that we had been caught eating worms.
Our protests changed no minds: "Can't trust 'worm-eaters'!" everyone seemed to think.
Consequently, the report has entered our family chronicles: "On this day in 1962, the brothers Jeff and Tim ate some worms."
But we didn't.