By the time Gilbert Einstein opened his eyes, the sun had already risen and with it, birds were singing songs to their loved ones. The rustling of leaves accompanied nature’s orchestra and was crescendoed by children’s laughter, and a cloudless sky perfected the scene.
For Gilbert, this was icing on the cake, for what made today great wasn’t the weather. It was Saturday. No school, no homework, and best of all, no spelling test. Not wanting to waste a second of his free time, Gilbert jumped out of bed, greeted the poster of his honorary uncle Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out, and ran downstairs. After a bowl of cereal and a piece of toast, Gilbert charged out the door.
But it wasn’t the birds or the rustling of the leaves that Gilbert wanted to see. It was his best friend, Sally Green. Two city blocks, a flight of stairs, and a walk down a hallway later, Gilbert found Sally slaving in a kitchen.
“Hey, Gee,” Sally chimed out. “Sit down at the table. I want you to enjoy heaven on earth.”
A minute later, Sally offered Gee a grilled cheese sandwich, and as soon as he took a bite, Sally chirped, “Well, what do you think?”
Without thinking about what was going to say, Gee replied, “There’s nothing so special about it. Mom’s Cheesy Kid’s Stuff sandwiches are better.”
Sally was flabbergasted. “Mom’s Cheesy what?”
“Cheesy Kid’s Stuff is what Mom calls them. They’re grilled cheese sandwiches, but she mixes up several types of cheese and plasters them on two slices of bread, before she cooks them. I tell you, there’s nothing like them.”
For a moment, Sally pondered over what Gee said, then she went to the refrigerator, opened the door, and pulled out several packages of cheese. “Any of these kinds of cheese look familiar?”
Gilbert inspected the display and shrugged his shoulders. “I have no idea.”
A dull clunking sound vibrated through the room as Sally dropped the cheese on the table. “Well, let’s find out.” She grabbed two pairing knives and handed one to Gee. “Gee Einstein, it’s time to slice and dice.”
For the rest of the morning, Gilbert and Sally were fixed in the kitchen. Gouda, provolone, and mozzarella were in play, but no matter how they tried, they couldn’t match Gilbert’s mother’s recipe. In fact, each time they attempted to do so, it tasted worse than the time before.
Exasperated, Gilbert cried out, “There’s got to be something missing.”
Equally disappointed, Sally returned to the frig and searched vigorously. Then, she saw it. Hidden at the back of a shelf, was a green cylindrical container. She grabbed her prize, pulled it out, and showed it to Gee, shouting, “Parmesan cheese!”
Armed with the new ingredient, they redoubled their efforts. Again, Gilbert and Sally tried to recreate the secret formula. Though the taste was slightly better than better, they were no closer to solving the mystery.
Frustrated, Gilbert decided to explore the frig himself. He rummaged through the shelves on the door, then deep in the refrigerator itself. Then, Gilbert struck gold. Hidden in a drawer below the bottom shelf, was a plastic container. He took it out and placed it on the table exclaiming, “Sally, I present to you the secret ingredient. Cottage cheese.”
Through the minds of six-year-old children, they thought they would live happily ever after, but they soon realized they weren’t living in a fairytale. From the first bite of their first grilled cottage cheese sandwich, they knew they had made a terrible mistake. Nauseated after taking a second bite, Gilbert moaned, “This tastes like dog barf.”
Forcing herself not to vomit, Sally groaned, “If it tasted like dog barf, it wouldn’t be so bad.” She forced herself to look at the unused cheese on the table. “I quit. I’m putting this all away and throwing out the rest.”
Then, a familiar but unwelcome voice joined in. “No one is throwing away any food out of my kitchen.”
Gilbert turned towards the kitchen door and found Sally’s mother glaring at their mess. “Mrs. Green,” he moaned.
Icily, she replied. “I want you to pick up this mess and clean up the dishes. Put everything back in the refrigerator, and as for what you concocted in here, I want you two to eat it. Nothing is going to be thrown out. Do you understand?”
Silently, Gilbert and Sally nodded their heads and began to put the unused cheese away. Then, Sally washed the dishes and Gee dried them. When they finished, there was one dish left on the table and it was stacked high with gooey cheese, mixed with cottage cheese. A pallid look crossed both of their faces as they faced their dreaded task.
Reluctantly, Sally picked up two spoons and gingerly handed one to Gee. Shaking her head, she mumbled, “The sooner we start, the sooner we finish.”
Gilbert forced himself to take the first bite. As the slime slid across his tongue and slithered down his throat, Gilbert gagged. Quickly, he took a sip of water and wiped the sweat off his brow. After he recovered, he took a second bite. When that settled in his stomach, Gilbert forced himself to smile and said, “It’s not so bad, Sally, once you get used to it.”
With those words of encouragement ringing in her ears, she joined in the feast. Slowly, but surely, the plate of cheese diminished until it was finally gone. With their self-inflicted torture behind them, Gilbert and Sally cleaned the last of the dishes.
It was over. Gilbert’s mother’s recipe was to remain a secret. Filled to the point of gilbert thinking cheese was going to ooze out his ears, Gilbert said his good-byes and started for home. Doubled over in pain, Gilbert treaded up his sidewalk and walked through the door.
As soon as the door closed behind him, Gilbert’s mother called out, “Gee, is that you? Come to the kitchen. I have a surprise for you.”
Not wanting to share my morning experience with her, Gilbert held himself up straight and entered. “Hi, Mom. What’s up?”
She hugged Gilbert and whispered in his ear, “It’s lunchtime and I made your favorite meal for you. Cheesy Kid’s Stuff sandwiches. See?”
Fearfully, Gilbert peered at the table and found his archenemy waiting for him. Sheepishly, Gilbert looked at his mother and pleaded, “I’m not hungry.”
But Gilbert’s mother insisted. “I won’t take no for an answer. You’re a growing boy and you need your energy. Now sit down and clean your plate.”
By that evening, Gilbert was lying in bed with a stomachache. As he laid there in agony, he turned towards his honorary Uncle Albert and said, “How do I get myself in these situations?”
As if in reply, Gilbert could almost hear Uncle Albert saying, “Growing up is a wonderful experience, but without occasional pain along the way, you can never truly know how much you’ve grown.”
Comforted with this thought Gilbert rolled over and went to sleep. As he was about to visit dreamland, he thought, tomorrow’s Sunday. What could possibly happen?