Inopinatum


Inopinatum (in-o-pi-na’-tum): The expression of one’s inability to believe or conceive of something; a type of faux wondering. As such, this kind of paradox is much like aporia and functions much like a rhetorical question or erotema. [A paradox is] a statement that is self-contradictory on the surface, yet seems to evoke a truth nonetheless [can include oxymoron].


After eating pigeon wing jerky at my daughter’s birthday party, I decided to write a cookbook containing our mother’s other recipes—recipes that were expressions of her mild insanity as they were the dishes she put on the table night after night. They were all her favorites, but we hated them but, under fatherly duress, I stuffed the dishes down anticipating racing my sister and father to our single toilet later in the evening—either to vomit or manage a bout of diarrhea. Mom was so proud that she had made up all the recipes herself. She was an orphan and had nobody to teach her cooking, and she was afraid that published cookbooks would make us “just like everybody else.” I never understood what the big deal was, but like I said, she was mildly insane. She did a lot of things that made no sense, like skipping around our cramped apartment and shaving a zig-zag line down the middle of her head, and continuing the line in lipstick down her forehead to the end of her nose. Sometimes Dad would call me and my sister into the living room for a “reminder.” He’d be sitting there in his big chair, spinning his revolver’s loaded cylinder: “Don’t say anything to anybody about your mother’s special habits, or I’ll kill you.” So we kept them secret. Dad died last week, but Mom is still going strong. So, that’s part of the reason I can collect Mom’s recipes into a cookbook—I’m not afraid of being shot by Dad anymore. After Mom was taken to the nursing home “ The Final Countdown,” I rummaged around in the kitchen to see if she left any recipes for her cooking. I found at least 100 written on sticky notes, stored in an empty taped-shut crayon box and hidden behind a half-gallon jug of Mr.Boston gin tucked away under the sink..

I have taken the liberty of publishing one of her recipes here. The entire collection will be titled “Dead Men Walking.” I think the title captures the seemingly lethal intent of Mom’s cooking. Be prepared, it is shocking and disgusting. I can’t believe I’m doing this, but the truth must be told.

“Whole Croaked Frog”

One night we sat down to dinner and things seemed different. Then, I realized it was the quiet. Usually, the 100s of frogs in the neighboring swamp incessantly croaked and interfered with our ability to carry on a decent conversation. Tonight, they were relatively quiet, and we talked about a bunch of things. I found out my sister’s name is Betty and that we lived in a town called Chester. I was thrilled. Mom’s muddy boots were parked by the front door.

Ingredients

1 pillowcase full of live frogs, 1 bucket swamp water, 1 doz. red onions, 5 cloves of garlic, coarse salt, stewed prunes, baking chocolate

Instructions

Beat frogs to death with small claw hammer and leave carcasses to soak overnight in swamp water. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pour frogs and quarter-bucket of swamp water into roasting pan. Place frogs in a circle in a sitting posture, surround with 12 onions, 5 garlic cloves and 2 handfuls of stewed prunes. Sprinkle on 50 pinches of coarse salt. Place whole bar of baker’s chocolate in middle of encircled frogs. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and decorate with fresh cattails. Eat with hands like corn on the cob. Mmmmm! Disgustingly delicious.

Postscript

“Whole Croaked Frog” made me sick for three days, I had a fever and the doctor thought I might have typhus. This was normal. But like I said, I was afraid of being shot by my father if I said anything. I had said something once after I choked and he shot at me and he missed. I never said anything again.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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