It was a vegetarian day in the neighbourhood when Mortimer Snert arrived at his grandmother’s house. Now gramma lived in the country, as did her neighbours. For some unknown reason, Mort’s gramma decided to pay a visit to the neighbours, and took Mort along with her. It was quite a ride from her house to the neighbour’s, gramma owned a Pontiac gran prix, an old one with a huge v8 engine and two four barrel carbs, and a positrac. Why she had this was beyond explanation, but gramma believed in driving with her foot in the carbureter. But that’s a different story.
So they arrived at the neighbours house, accompanied by a huge cloud of dirt. Now the neighbours were probably not the most technologically adept people in the world, but Mort was just a kid, and he didn’t care. In fact some of the arcane equipment that graced their house was kinda cool. So it was in the middle of summer, and it was hot out, and nobody had air conditioning, so they stood outside talking.
It was about that time that Mort spotted the Garden. Now Mort had always been fond of plants, and especially the kind you could eat. And there was certainly no shortage of edible plants in this lady’s garden. Eventually the conversation turned to gardens, and the neighbour took Mort and his gramma over to see what wonderful plants she had grown. Now there was something special about the garden, in that it had some of the healthiest looking plants Mort had ever seen. They were in the midst of looking at all the plants when Mort decided that now would be a good time to eat a carrot.
So as politely as he could, he asked the neighbour if he could pull out one of her carrots and eat it. Sure, the lady said, just pick one out. Now Mort was about starving by this time, so he looked around carefully and selected a nice looking carrot, and ripped it out of the ground. To his surprise, the carrot was about as long as his arm, and about the same diameter.
Now mort had always liked carrots (up until that very day), and eagerly took a huge bite out of it. It was like eating a tree stump. It had to be the absolute nastiest thing Mort had ever put in his mouth. It far surpassed cocoanut and licorice as far as absolute wretchedness went. He about arfed right there on the spot. Trying real hard not to be too obvious, he spit out chunks of carrot stump in several directions. Then he started looking for a place to get rid of the blasted thing. They were out in the middle of nowhere, and gramma and the neighbour lady were right there, so mort couldn’t just ditch it.
So he began fidgeting with the thing, and it wasn’t long before gramma noticed that Mort still had the majority of the carrot, and was making no attempt to eat it. Now Mort’s gramma had been around for a few years, and she knew how nasty those big tree stump carrots could be, and she also knew that the Way Things Worked was that if mort had asked for the thing, he was going to eat it, every last bit, even if it killed him, and Mort knew that, too, and Mort knew that she knew that, too.
So with the look of death in her eye, she asked Mort how his carrot was. Now mort was no dummy. He knew that if he told her it was horrible, that would reflect not only on the neighbour lady’s ability to grow healthy carrots, but it would reflect on the way Mort was raised, which would reflect on the way his mother was raised, which would be his gramma’s fault. And Mort knew better than to cross gramma, she was half blooded Cherokee Indian, and would be just as likely to scalp Mort as to look at him.
So being fond of his hair, and his life in general, mort decided to tell her the only thing he could. The carrot is fine, but could he please have a glass of water, it was kinda hot out, and the carrot needed something to warsh it down with. Now the look his gramma shot him told Mort he was fixing to be dead meat. Mort did not understand at all. Boy did he not understand.
So the neighbour lady goes inside and brings out a glass with nothing in it. She proceeds over to this cool looking water spigot with a crank on the side, and gives it a good crank or two. Finally water comes out into the glass, and the lady hands it to mort. Still having shards of carrot in his mouth, Mort takes a big drink of water. His gramma is giving him the most evil look Mort had ever seen, when all of a sudden Mort realized the water tasted like it had come out of a sewer. Mort knew better than to spit, so slamming his eyes shut, and clenching his teeth, he swallowed the sewer water and the tree stump carrot.
How’s the water? His gramma asked. Great, mort squeeked. The neighbour lady was obviously pleased with herself, and made the comment that not too many people could deal with drinking cistern water. Mort about dropped the class. He had heard horror stories about cistern water, and cisterns in general. He had actually opened the lid on one one fine day, and was amazed by the diversity of life forms at the bottom of the thing, in addition to the fact that they collected rain water off the roof, and from who knows where else. And it all collected at the bottom of this thing, and this was exactly what Mort had a big steaming glass full of now. That and the damned carrot. And he knew he was going to have to stand there and eat the carrot and drink the cistern water, because he had asked for it, and there was no way in hell his gramma was going to leave until that happened.
So resigning himself to a slow and painful death, mort started eating the carrot. And at intervals, when he thought it could be no worse, he would warsh it down with cistern water. Finally the carrot was gone, as was the water, and mort was 37 shades of green. They finally left, but for supper that night, Mort’s gramma made sure to fix a huge bowlfull of carrots.