I could still taste the runny yolks in the back of my throat as I walked along the red-brick sidewalk, my vision blurred slightly by the few persistent tears I couldn’t quite manage to suppress. The only thing Jeanine does worse than babysit is cook eggs. She definitely can’t cook eggs like Mom, who cooks the bacon first and uses the bacon grease to fry the eggs. And she can’t cook the eggs like Susan, the woman who used to be our morning babysitter. Susan was better because she didn’t even usually cook eggs, and made us toast with gravy instead. She called it S.O.S., or stuff on shingles. She said some people think the first S stands for something else, but we should just call it S.O.S. instead. She was way nicer than Jeanine, but she got a regular job so she couldn’t be the babysitter to come wake us up for school in the mornings anymore. Now it was Jeanine and Gerry, they took turns on different days. Gerry is really pretty, with blonde hair and a friendly smile. Jeanine is always in a bad mood. Gerry doesn’t make eggs, she usually gives us a choice between cereal or oatmeal. She says “do you want cold cereal or hot cereal,” because she says the oatmeal is hot cereal. I like both better than eggs.
Jeanine made fried eggs this morning, like usual. I told her before that I only like scrambled eggs, but she doesn’t care. She set our plates on the table in front of each of us, and I could see right away on mine that it was going to be tough to eat these eggs. The white part was slight gooey in some places and burnt in others, and the yellow was the same way. She told us to hurry, so I started eating my toast, trying to think of ways to get out of eating the eggs. When Tim was little, he used to hide food he didn’t want to eat under a little ledge that was part of the way our kitchen table was shaped, so he could come throw it away later. This table wasn’t like that, so I would have to come up with something else.
Eat your eggs, she told me, as I tried to work out a plan. She stood and looked at me after she said it, so there was no way out. I cut off a little part of the white, and accidentally got some of the runny yellow leaking onto it. I brought the fork slowly to my mouth, wishing it was cinnamon-flavored hot cereal instead. I tried chewing for a second, but knew I needed to get it over with fast. I swallowed, and felt the sliminess of the egg in my throat. Before it got halfway down, I felt my stomach heave. I hate throwing up, so I fought it back. It came out as tears, instead, so before she could see me cry I stood up and yelled at Jeanine.
“Your cooking is gross! I wish you weren’t our babysitter!”
I left the house right away, and on the walk to school I settled down some.
I don’t know how I always let him get under my skin like that. It was a perfectly good morning, with the only exception being that it was my morning to go wake up Colleen’s kids. She’s good friends with my mother, though, so going to wake up her kids, feed them breakfast, and send them walking to school before I go to school myself two or three times a week isn’t so bad. But this morning it was a little harder than usual, because I was running a little late. For a family that doesn’t have much money, the kids are sometimes very spoiled. I had a hard time waking them up, as they usually just roll over and go back to sleep after the first one or two times I rub their shoulders. So today I had to resort to yelling, a good old “rise and shine” like my dad used to do.
They finally started getting ready, so I went downstairs and started their eggs. Five kids, five eggs, five pieces of toast. It’s not so bad; I can usually whip it up in about ten minutes, if I cook two or three eggs at a time. Of course, their stovetop is uneven and the frying pan slightly misshapen, so sometimes the eggs don’t cook very evenly. I finished buttering the toast while the last three eggs were cooking, put the food on separate plates for each of the kids, and took them out to the table.
The middle kid glared at me. He has never liked me, and I’ve never been able to figure out why. I think he might have a crush on Gerri, the senior cheerleader who wakes them up when I’m not around. I don’t think she even makes them breakfast. I looked at the clock and realized I needed to get going if I was going to be on time to school. I told the kids to finish their breakfast, and while I tried to remember whether I’d brought my geometry assignment, the middle kid pushed his plate away and started screaming at me. His brothers and sisters started laughing when he stormed out the front door, so I told them to finish their breakfast. I already at some oatmeal at home, but if the kid wasn’t going to eat his egg I didn’t want to let it go to waste.