Next to the eggnog, the egg-rolls, the eggs benedicts and the eggs Au fromage, was exactly 140 millilitres of pure cream, purebred, all-American milk. It was a glorious sight for all with penchants for contracting Salmonella. It was greyish in colour and smelt like the bottom of a rotting table with poop slathered over it. For the Mennie family, it was a holy milk, and one they idolised with a radical ideological commitment to what this milk represented; Family tradition.
As they were gathered around the dinner table -- having just completed a feast of duck, corned beef and turkey, they stared idly at the Milk. It had been poured into a grail earlier that day and was making those without a deep-seeded appreciation for the libation gag. It was a yearly tradition in the Mennie household; to stare in awe at the milk and reflect on what the family had been through over the previous year. It was symbolic more than anything, and if anyone were to drink or waste it, it could tear the moral fabric of the Mennie family apart, along with giving said drinker a most horrific case of the runny dunnies.
'Daddy' said Betty, the 4 year old daughter of the Mennies. She didn't understand what the fuss was about, and as a young mind intuitively does, she wondered about the legacy of the milk. Once she had her father Gores attention, she asked, 'What's the deal with the milk, why do we just stare at it for hours?'
Gore Mennie gasped in shock at such a question. A tradesman by day, his reason for living weighed on the history of this grail of Milk. He didn't fix dodgy toilets for no reason, and if he didn't have this symbolic, glorious milk to idolise over, he might as well throw any aspirations for a better life down the toilet, or perhaps a more symbolically appropriate porta-potty.
'Betty, as a proud and slightly jingoistic Mennie family daughter, I am absolutely shocked that you haven't learnt the fabled history of this most brilliant grail of creamy goodness!' Mamma Mennie, the wife of Gore, rolled her eyes as she prepared to listen to the origin story for the 43 time this year. Mamma Mennie, known formerly as Ida Noe Batar by birth and Mamma Mennie by deed-poll, couldn't give a rats arse about the milk, and was more likely to worship a good glass of red than the dreaded milk that smelt like something dead. She dazed off as her husband explained,
'Young Betty, it all started before the war, the Vietnam war that is...'
On The Way To 'Nam
'I was on the way to Nam, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. I was playing cards with my friend Charlie and his girlfriend Delta. It was Solitaire, and over cigarettes and milk, our souls were laid bare. It was the time of my life, and something I would never forget. I'd live to forget this tale for many years though, as a heat seeking missile hit our helicopter somewhere over Laos, giving me an awful concussion. I woke up in a POW camp about 12 hours later.
Everyone was dead, including Charlie and Delta, and all those bastards gave me was a litre of milk. I tried rationing the milk, but those bastards kept torturing me for days, weeks even. After 4 weeks, I was down to my last 150 millilitres and ready to give up. All of a sudden, US forces burst through the hut I was in, killing the woman who was watching it, a rather attractive young lass named Thu, and rescued me. I kept that Milk as a reminder of my struggles, and to remember how we defeated those bastards.'
Back At the Dinner Table
'Wow' said Betty, captivated by her Daddy's story about the milk. It would be a tremendous story, if it were remotely true. Thankfully, Papa Mennie called this bluff, excoriating him for his made up tale,
'Listen up buster, that's quite the story, but one that is simply not true.' Papa Mennie was a grizzled vet; 80 years old and a penchant for fighting, even at his age and with his state of arthritis. He licked his lips, before explaining his recollection of the story.
3 Savile Row
'Listen up buster, it was a cold day in the UK, and I was with my young lady friend at the time, Rita May. We were taking what the adults call, psychedelics, and...'
'I don't think this is appropri....' said Mamma, however she was quickly interrupted by Papa as he continued his story,
'Let me finish you rapscallion. Anyways, John Lennon and Ringo Starr were talking at the other side of the bar, and the went to the rooftop to perform a concert of some sort. Long story short, I went over and took the half-drunken milk they were consuming, as I thought I could sell it for a buck.'
Back At the Dinner Table
Gore Mennie was fuming. In his mind, Papa Mennie had told a complete fabrication; a disrespectful tale that diminished the importance of the Holy Grail of Milk. He needed to let his feelings be known,
'Paps, I don't think you should be spinning made up nonsense about this grail of milk,'
'It's not nonsense, I still have Lennon's number, we can call him if you'd like,' As one could glean, Papa had a slight care of dementia, and had forgotten than John Lennon had died 40 years ago. His heart dreaded for George Harrison, and how Johns death impacted him to this day,
'He's been dead for 40 years!' said Gore, now raising his voice and starting to look noticeably irate. Gore and Papa had their issues over the years, as Papa had kicked Gore out of the house as a 21 year old when he brought his girlfriend home for the night. It was the last time he would be with that woman, and from what he'd heard, she had gotten a starring role in a film called, 'Forrest Gump' as Tom Hank's Wife, or something like that.
The two men started to argue, but with the tensions bubbling like the tea on the stove was, the 30 year old son of Gore, Jeb Mennie, interjected into the argument,
'Look fellas, you both spin an interesting yarn, but both stories are simply false. I'm not out hear blowhardin', so young Betty, if you want to know what really happened, listen to me,
Hong Kong - 1993
'I was on the set for the Wong Kar Wai film, 'Chungking Express' and Wong Kar Wai was known for having the odd glass of...'
Back At the Dinner Table
'Oh please, you're going to try and say your trip to Hong Kong is somewhat responsible for the milk? You didn't even know who Wong Kar Wai was until two years ago,' said Gore, as the argument started getting heated.
'Oh it's more plausible than your bullshit Vietnam story.' Snapped Jeb, the energy of this room threatening to reach a precipice.
'Don't swear in-front of the young whips,' said Papa, his absolute hatred for swearing showing as he stood up and threw his chair to the side. The kids started to cry, but this did little to quell the anger of the three men.
Mamma Mennie was sensing the tension, and with the three children watched on at the three men arguing, she felt she had to say something. She stood up herself and said,
'Guys, why are you fighting, it's just a glass of milk-'
'ITS NOT JUST A GLASS OF MILK' Papa snapped, 'It's symbolic of who we are. I didn't steal this milk from Ringo for no reason, I knew this would be a centrepiece to bring my family together,'
'WELL IT'S TEARING US APART,' said Gore, now seething. His seething would quickly turn to a vivid flashback, to the time Thu had attached alligator clips to his chest and zapped him for hours on end.
He started convulsing on the table, and now fretting for her husband, Mamma Mennie said,
'Call the ambulance, hes having a seizure of some description,'
'Not unless he recants his bullshit story,' said Jeb Mennie, unrelenting and somewhat cold-heartedly. Despite his brothers terrible state, he was not going to help him. The same grail of milk that brought this family together was fracturing it at the seams, and Mamma Mennie was furious,
'STOP BEING A BABY, IT'S JUST A GLASS OF MILK,'
'IT'S NOT MILK!' said Grandma Mennie, the wife of Papa who had been sitting silently in the corner of the room, knitting a sweater. She knew the true origin story, and was ready to tell it to the rest of the family for the first time. Despite the state Gore was in, and his constant screaming of 'Charlie' and 'Delta', she started telling everyone the real tale of this seemingly innocuous grail of old milk.
Summer of 69'
'It was the swinging summer of 69, and Papa and I were trying to have a baby. We were trying for months on end, but we were having no success. I thought it was something in your Papa's product, so for several nights, I collected the product off Papa and placed it in a jar. The grail of milk, well, it's not milk. It's, kids cover your ears,' the kids obliged, before Grandma Mennie revealed, 'It's semen, specifically Papa's. Jeb, you better be thankful because that could easily be you in that cup.'
Back At the Dinner Table
The three man were horrified. They had been arguing over a cup oc semen, and there own recollections were all false. They wanted answers, and Papa was the first to ask,
'So wait, what happened to the Milk I stole from Ringo,'
'I drank It, not everyday that you can claim to have shared a glass with Ringo Starr,'
'Or the milk I saved from the POW camp?'
'Flushed it down the sink, that was revolting,' Grandma sat there, continuing to knit a sweater. The family was in shock. They thought they'd been idolising a symbolic glass of milk for decades. Little did they know that it was the result of a string of unsuccessful attempts by Papa Mennie to get Grandma Pregnant.
Mamma, Papa, and Jeb stormed out, disgusted. The kids followed suit, leaving Grandma with the Grail and a still convulsing Gore. Grandma, known for being a hard old woman, did nothing to help her son, leaving him to have a rather horrific flashback all by himself.
With the family out of the room, she walked over to the Grail. She picked it up, carried it to the kitchen, and poured it down the sink, symbolic of the disintegration of decades of tradition and the family itself. As she washed the grail clean and inspected the small green emerald moulded into the cup, she mumbled to herself words she had quietly thought for decades, but had decided to keep to herself.
'I wish you hadn't given me a family of fucking idiots.' She then puts the grail in the washing machine, before walking back to the couch, continuing to Knit her sweater and still not alleviating the horrible PTSD her son was experiencing.