Before my mother wrapped my grandparents’ Christmas gift, she took it out of its box to show me. She unearthed it from its layers of cardboard and packing, and held it up with a gleam of crazed pride in her eye, the pride of a victorious shopper. It looked like an industrial-strength hypodermic needle. “Uh, what is it?” I asked. “It’s a meat injector,” she said. “I bought it on QVC. You fill the needle with marinades and inject it into your roast or your chicken.” I hesitated. It looked like something you’d find in a dentists’ office or a hospital, not in my sweet grandmother’s kitchen. “Do you think they’ll like it?” she asked uncertainly. My confused expression had already shaken her confidence. I could have lied and said yes, of course! Instead, I just said: “Do they eat a lot of meat?”
On Christmas Day, my grandmother peeled off the layers of paper and lifted up the cardboard inserts with her mouth half-open, ready to say “Oh, how wonderful!” But when she finally got to the needle, her mouth closed. “Oh… ” she said. “What is it?” My mother proudly told her it was a meat injector. “Oh…” she said, trying not to laugh. “Well, that’s something.” My grandfather came into the room just then and noticed her holding the big metal needle contraption. “Wow!” he said. “What’s that for?” My mother explained the whole thing, how she’d got it on QVC, and you could inject your meat with tasty juicy marinades.
Turns out, they don’t eat a lot of meat. (We-told-you-so, my sisters and I chorused.) My mother tried to explain how QVC makes everything sound so super-desirable. “I had to get it before they sold out!” she said.
My grandmother, on the verge of collapsing into giggles, suggested that it should be shipped back to QVC. But first, she and my grandfather posed for some snapshots with the big needle.
Sometimes, observing my family explains why I’m so weird.