The summer before last my mother, Griffin and his then-girlfriend and I spent the afternoon at the MFA checking out a couple of shows that had recently opened. Being the "living on the edge" type of girl that I am, I didn't bother to get gas before we left home in spite of the fact that the tank was on the low side, thus forcing me to find a gas station in the inner city, where there isn't exactly one on every street corner. As such, we ended up in the part of the city that fans out behind Chinatown and bumps up against Back Bay where there are quite a few up-and-coming art galleries, as well as some funky furniture shops specializing in the quirky and the cool.
After we filled the tank, we decided to check out a few of the shops, one of which was a store filled, oddly enough, with both mid-century modern furniture as well as ornate Victorian. It was a hot summer afternoon and like many inner city shops, this one had a big bowl of water outside on the sidewalk to refresh any dogs who were out for a stroll with their owners, as well as a crystal bowl on a little table just inside the door with a little sign with a picture of a dog on it stuck in the dish that said "DOG BISCUITS - HELP YOURSELF." As we walked by the table with the fancy little doggie dish, Griffin said, "Wouldn't it be funny if we could get Grandma to eat a dog biscuit by telling her they're people cookies, compliments of the store?" and while I must confess that in my mind I thought it might be amusing to watch my mom eat a dog biscuit, the mother in me said out loud to my son that it wouldn't be funny at all, especially considering the fact that my mother has a hair trigger gag reflex and I didn't think the shop owner would appreciate having her vomit all over their carpeting when that first bite hit home. After a bit of grumbling from the peanut gallery, we moved on to check out the merchandise with Griffin, his girlfriend and I going in one direction and my mother heading off in another.
Out on the sidewalk afterwards we talked about the usual stuff: what we thought of the store and how hot it was and how ungodly long the walk back to the car seemed in the sweltering heat. And then I noticed my mother snacking on something, which isn't out of the ordinary as she's diabetic and often needs a snack to raise her blood sugar. When Griffin teasingly asked what she was eating and if she had brought enough to share with the rest of the class, my mother said that there was a bowl of little cookies by the door with a sign that they were for the customers to enjoy and if we wanted some we should have gotten our own. We all shouted at her in unison, "Those were dog biscuits!" to which my mother replied that they weren't for dogs, they were clearly regular cookies and that we must have seen a different bowl. Sure enough, upon inspection, they were in fact the same bone-shaped dog biscuits from the crystal dish. My mother stopped chewing and then after a moment's thought shrugged her shoulders, said they tasted good and ate another one. She offered the remaining ones in her hand to anyone who would like to try one, but we all thanked her and politely passed on her offer, so she ate them all herself.
To this day when this story is brought up, she insists that the dog biscuits weren't all bone shaped as that would have been a dead giveaway (I personally would have thought the sign with the picture of the dog and the words "dog biscuits" in the bowl would have been one's first hint as to who the cookies were for) and she also insists that she comes by this honestly as there is a long tradition of family members who have enjoyed eating their pets' food. She mentions my aunt Audrey, her older sister, who as a baby was frequently found on the kitchen floor fighting with the family cat for the poor cat's dinner, right on up to my own son who as a toddler would pick all the fake cheese and colorful bits out of a bowl of 'kibbles n' bits' leaving just the brown less-than-fun stuff for Cordelia to eat. But don't even bother pointing out to her that in each of these tales, the cat or dog food eater in question was still in diapers, had only a rudimentary amount of language skills and hadn't yet developed what could be considered an even remotely discriminating palate because it won't get you anywhere. Trust me. Instead just offer her a dog biscuit, she'll thank you for it later.