copyright © 2001 bkMarcus

Ronny Faber Versus The Tooth Faerie

by bkMarcus

Excerpt from Chapter 2: Dark Faerie

"TV Dinner"

Ronny loved Swanson's TV Dinners. He loved them because the foil trays were separated into 4 sections, keeping the meat away from the vegetables on the upper left and the macaroni on the upper right. He loved them because they guaranteed that his mom couldn't load his plate with greens and force him to finish them before dessert. And he loved them because the dessert was served with everything else, top-center, holding the balance between the veggies and the macaroni. He loved knowing, before he ate anything, what his whole meal would look like, both in portions and in the order of consumption. Because he liked the mixed vegetables the least, he started on the upper left. He ate every green pea, every soft orange cube of steamed carrot and every yellow kernel of corn before he touched anything else. That got the worst of it over and out of the way. His mom used to tell him he could start with the dessert, so long as he ate everything in the tray. She even encouraged it, as if that would be the treat of a TV dinner. Other kids might start with the dessert, but then the worst of it was still ahead of them, and quickly getting worse because cold veggies tasted even yuckier than hot ones. Ronny would get the only bad part out of the way, then move on to the parts he enjoyed -- Salisbury steak in salty brown gravy, then the cheesy macaroni, then the brown cheesy crust around the macaroni's tray section. Ronny liked the overcooked crust even better than the macaroni it surrounded. Finally, the apple pie, cooled, but still warm. He felt about TV dinner desserts the opposite of how he felt about TV dinner macaroni -- to end on the overcooked crust would ruin the whole effect, but to start with the overcooked crust wouldn't feel like eating dessert at all. So Ronny carefully mixed the crust into the sugary syrup and apple chunks in the middle, mashing the fruit and syrup and dough into a coarse mush with his fork. That way every bite of dessert tasted equally good, and he could prolong the final pleasure of the meal.

     The other thing Ronny loved about TV dinner was that it had the word 'TV' in it. Ronny wasn't allowed to watch TV during dinner, except on the nights that dinner came served in a partitioned foil tray. His mom had tried to claim that the name didn't dictate the entertainment, but Ronny persisted.

     Sometimes, his mom would open two small folding tables in front of the battered old black-and-white and join her son with a foil tray of her own, but that happened less and less. Ronny had noticed, in that part of his mind that took things in even when he wished it wouldn't, that his mom served TV dinner when she wanted to be left alone, and that she wanted to be left alone when she looked like she was feeling sad. Not angry -- angry mom forced Ronny to eat with her at the big dinner table and glowered at him in silence while he struggled with his greens. But sad mom would take a Swanson's out of the oven, seat her son in front of the tube and wander down the hall to be alone.

     Ronny had also noticed something about himself. When his mom was sad, he didn't want to watch The Brady Bunch or Batman or late cartoons during dinner. He wanted to watch The 4:30 Movie on Channel 7. The 4:30 Movie was for grown-ups, but Ronny found it more distracting than kids' shows, and his mom had said he probably wouldn't even understand the parts of the movies she'd find objectionable. Not understanding grown-up stuff was often a burden, but once in a while it was a benefit.

     Sometimes they did 5 Elvis Presley movies, one for each weeknight. Sometimes they had 5 Gidget movies -- or James Bond or Planet of the Apes or 5 old gangster films. (Ronnie didn't like watching old black-and-white movies, not even on an old black-and-white TV.)


     The people in these movies wore clothes and had hair styles that didn't look right. They had conversations that Ronny mostly didn't follow, but he liked watching the fights, and sometimes even the kissing, and he understood who the bad guys were and more-or-less what the good guys were up to. Tonight, Wonder Woman had to save the world. In the movies Ronny saw on TV, heroes were always having to save the world.

     Batman -- on TV, at least -- just protected Gotham City. Same with Superman and Metropolis. But heroes like Wonder Woman and James Bond had bigger responsibilities. Ronny felt like he should admire the world-savers more than he did, but Batman was still his favorite. He liked him because he was a strong guy (and rich, and really smart) but he didn't have any actual super-powers. When grown-ups asked Ronny what he wanted to be when he grew up, he used to say he wanted to be Batman. They laughed at him when he said that, so now he told them he wanted to be a policeman, but the truth was he still wanted to be Batman. If he were Batman, he could have beat up those policemen who took Zack's firecrackers. He didn't know Zack's dark and mean-looking Batman, but he'd decided he liked him. It would be nice to break that policeman's arm.


"TV Dinner" debuted December 21, 2001, performed by bkMarcus.

Ronny Faber Versus The Tooth Faerie
[Ronny Faber Versus The Tooth Faerie]
[TV Dinner]

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