Monday, December 29, 2008


When I was pregnant for the first time, my parents were overjoyed. And by “overjoyed” I mean “insane”. They hovered over me. They made sure that I was comfortable. They made sure that I was fed, and hydrated. You know, all the things that people who are functioning in society are generally able to do for themselves. And they wanted to make sure nothing upset me.

My husband was traveling one night and my parents came over for a deluxe dinner of Chinese takeout. Somehow the conversation turned to one of their favorite topics—how overweight many Americans are.

“Americans don’t understand hunger,” my father said.
“No, everything is too much here,"mama chimed in. "Did you see the ‘small’ coffee? Huge. And the large? A whole family can drink that!”
“In Russia, we lived through a blockade,” my father announced, referring to a period in the 1940s when the Germans surrounded Leningrad and would not let anything in, including food. Over a million people starved to death. My parents had not yet been born during this time, but their parents and grandparents lived through it and the memories haunted them. To this day, they are unable to throw out a crust of bread, so modern excesses offend them.

“People were starving,” my father continued, as I reloaded my plate with Sweet and Sour chicken. “People ate cats and all dogs disappeared from Leningrad. Your aunt Julia-“
“Stop it!” my mother yelled. “Don’t you dare tell her that story!”
“What?” my father was perplexed, “I’m just talking.”
“Yes, you’re talking. But you shouldn’t be talking to your pregnant daughter about this nonsense!”
“Nonsense?! It is a completely true story and part of our history. It is important.”
“Important? It’s upsetting and probably an exaggeration.”
“Hello!!” I waved a fork with broccoli in garlic sauce in front of them. “I’m still here! What about aunt Julia?” Who wasn’t really an aunt, but what am I a genealogical expert now?
“Don’t get upset,” my mother tried to soothe me. “It’s nothing.”
”Nothing. Her father tried to eat her when she was born, and to you it’s nothing. Normal behavior. It’s a girl! I mean, dinner! That’s how desperate people were.”
“Are you insane?” my mother yelled. “Do you want her to go into labor right now? Look how you’re upsetting our Marinka. Her chewing has slowed down considerably.”
“Well, maybe she can deliver the dessert.” My father threw down his napkin. Or maybe he didn’t throw it down, who the hell can remember. Really, I have no idea how people write dialogue.
“Don’t be upset,” my mother addressed me in a conspiratorial tone. “I don’t think that story is true.”
”WHAT?” my father howled, “are you telling me that my Uncle Boris didn’t try to eat my cousin Julia and if it weren’t for my Aunt Sofia protecting her daughter, there would be no cousin Julia?” Apparently my father is not the type of man to have the family folklore of cannibalism snatched away from him without a struggle.
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” my mother said. “But I don’t think that we should upset Marinka like that.”

I'm sure it speaks volumes to my moral character that I wasn't actually upset by that story. But to this day I can't stand when people coo over babies and comment how "delicious" they are.


Blogger Steam Me Up, Kid said...


December 29, 2008 at 3:32 AM  
Blogger blognut said...

I promise never to eat another baby. WTF?

December 29, 2008 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger Marinka said...

Silvergirl & Blognut--let's make not eating babies our New Year's Resolution in 2009. No More Babies!

December 29, 2008 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Green said...

So that must be where the whole "clean your plate, people are starving in..." came from?

December 29, 2008 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

But did he say babies taste like chicken?

December 29, 2008 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Wow! I just heard someone say to a baby last night they could eat them with a spoon.

It is a bit twisted, eh?

December 29, 2008 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger Madge said...

i heart your parents.

December 29, 2008 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Grumpy but sweet said...

oh. my. god.

i've only heard dog and horse stories.

people do look... hungrily at babies don't they. commenting on their chubby cheeks... makes me pause.

(i love this post, btw.)

December 29, 2008 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

So, I guess you might find my comment, "ooooh, she's so cute I could eat her right up" a little inappropriate? I'll keep that in mind should we ever meet.

December 29, 2008 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Carolyn...Online said...

That's a great story.

I wonder if Uncle Boris got the idea from A Modest Proposal...

December 29, 2008 at 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't MY parents be more like YOUR parents? They just sit around telling stories about how 'Old Uncle Leroy tried smothering his wife.'

December 29, 2008 at 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love family stories, such a great source of amusement. Your family, however, pushes my father's stories of beatings with a chamber pot right into the shadows.

I am happy to take the no-more-baby-eating pledge alongside all you brave people. We should form a support group!

December 29, 2008 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger ♥ Braja said...

This works for me. Now when people ask me why I never had children, I can tell them, "I didn't want them to be eaten..."

December 29, 2008 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger The Panic Room said...

You write dialogue like a pro. I felt like I was reading a bit right out of Seinfeld. Such a good story.

December 29, 2008 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Z said...

Every family needs a good cannibalism story, right? ;)

December 29, 2008 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger That Janie Girl said...

Too funny.

I'll pledge, too.

December 29, 2008 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Marmite Breath said...

Alright, look, I'll stop eating babies in the New Year, fine!

But no way am I going to stop putting their heads on spikes!

(Apologies to all non-fans of Eddie Izzard there, because now I look like even more of a psycho than a baby eater)

December 29, 2008 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger *Akilah Sakai* said...

You're family rocks! That was absolutely hilarious. I'll never eat veal!

December 29, 2008 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Ann Imig said...

Oh, so YOUR family is responsible for the whole eating christian babies slander...

December 29, 2008 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx said...

Are these the kind of stories that I am missing out on by not speaking to my extended family?


(Oh look, a baby! NOM NOM NOM.)
(totally kidding.)

December 29, 2008 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Charmaine said...

Seriously, someone needs to write a sitcom about your family.

Now, come over to my blog and vote for my next date. I need advice from a crazy married person.

December 29, 2008 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

hahahahahahahahahaha, this story is hilarious. Thank goodness Julia wasn't eaten and I hope she appreciates that she was allowed to live and not made into dinner.

December 29, 2008 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Lynn C Mama to 3 said...

I have a friend who constantly tells me she could just eat my fat little baby up. She survived similar poverty and famine in Afghanistan as a child. Am now thinking I should either not let her babysit anymore or at the very least... make sure the fridge is fully stocked. Just in case.

December 29, 2008 at 3:49 PM  
Blogger Maddness of Me said...

Oh, so that's why when I sometimes say that "I could just eat" my friend's toddler, she looks at me that way.

I had no idea. Thanks!

December 29, 2008 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Holy Crap. What a story!

All my families stories end up with the ol' "Remember that time when PinkLizzy was two and she ate a snail out of the lilies? Har Har Har" Urg!

December 29, 2008 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Payton said...

I loved this story =)

December 29, 2008 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger shrink on the couch said...

"nibble, nibble, little toes!"

I'll never be able to enjoy that baby game again. Thanks to Uncle Boris.

December 29, 2008 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Estridge said...

I hereby award you the "weirdest family anecdote of the day" award! Thank God your Aunt Sophia stopped him!

December 29, 2008 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I didn't know baby eating ran in your family. I may have to reconsider your shrine. Maybe not.

December 29, 2008 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

I can not stand when people use the word "delicious" to describe non food things. Ick.

December 29, 2008 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Can you just hear the Russian version of the Donner party? Donner-vesky party of three... Oh, make that Donner-vesky party of two...

December 29, 2008 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Does this mean I can't eat any more Sour Patch Kids?

December 29, 2008 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Temple said...

What wine would you pair with that?

December 29, 2008 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger MommyTime said...

This is hilarious. My favorite part is your parents fighting about whether you would be upset about this or not.

I'll join the no more baby-eating in 2009 club too -- as long as I don't have to give up puppies...

(we just watched 102 Dalmations today. Talk about twisted)

December 29, 2008 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger anymommy said...

Your family (and your dialogue writing) are fantastic. And, um, I'm kind of glad I decided not to bring the baby to Chicago. You know, just in case it runs in the family.

December 29, 2008 at 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baby...the other white meat.'s what's for dinner.

Apparently the pork industry has it all wrong.

December 30, 2008 at 12:19 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

am i the only dork who wants to go read more about Russian History now?
I think you should tell us stories from the old country every week on formerly-porn sunday!

December 30, 2008 at 4:55 AM  
Blogger 2 Brits, 2 Yanks, 2 Dogs said...

Marinka - I love your parents! I agree you should have a sitcom.

December 30, 2008 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Issa said...

I think I'm in love with your parents. But I may never tell my son I'm going to eat his cheeks again. Which is sad, because they are so eatable.

December 30, 2008 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Oh you would be totally disgusted with our family, we're all about the "you're so cute, I could just eat you up" thing. In fact there's a joke (not really sure where it came from). A mom says to her baby "oh gee, you're so beautiful I could eat you up." Years pass the baby turns into an annoying teenager and the mom thinks, "damn, why didn't I?".

December 30, 2008 at 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, I'm so with you on the delicious edible baby thing. blech. & I think your dialogue-writing is fantastic & hilarious. the cadence & humor reminds me somewhat of the Confederacy of Dunces, which is about the funniest writing I've ever read.

December 30, 2008 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger Sherendipity said...

The eating baby thing has always freaked me out. Now I'm going to be totally demented.
Thanks a lot.

December 31, 2008 at 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sendak has said he wrote Where the Wild Things Are out of his memories of his adult relatives, so one of the things the monsters say is "We'll eat you up, we love you so". I guess some kids notice the way adults talk about them. Yikes.

January 1, 2009 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Um, eating babies? That must be folklore or something. I mean have you ever met this Aunt (cousin) non-relative Julia?

January 2, 2009 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger LuckyMe said...

You are seriously brilliant! And you piss me off b/c you have such a way with the language and you weren't even born here!

That Kiterunner guy pisses me off, too. He wasn't born here either and his writing is beautiful. But of course he went to med school in his new country before becoming a best selling author of fiction. Top that!! No, really. Are you published somewhere?

March 5, 2009 at 11:12 PM  

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