We flew all the way out to the
other coast for my brothers graduation. When we got to the airport, he greeted us
with smiles and hugs and a big Tupperware container full of cookies. "I made these
for you guys to have in your room," he said as he handed the cookies to my mother.
everyone piled into the rented mini-van and drove off to begin the week long celebration.
Back at the hotel room, hours later, we unpacked. My brother B. was staying in
town. "Are these o.k. to eat?" my sister A. asked my mother, holding up the bin
"Yeah, I guess. Why shouldnt they be?" my dad replied.
"Uh, because of the parasite." A. said.
"Parasite? What friggin parasite? Has B. got a god damned parasite?"
he hollered to my mother, who had stepped into the bathroom. "What the hell kind of
parasite is she talking about?"
My mother the nurse came out, sat us down, and gave us an "everything we
never wanted to know about giardia" lecture. She told us it was an intestinal
parasite that gives you terrible diarrhea, and that it is very hard to get rid of. She
told us that it can "encapsulate" itself in your liver or brain and cause
"complications at a later date". And that public health codes require that an
infected person not work in food services until s/he has had three negative cultures for
"Has B. had three negative cultures for it?" my father asked, he was
pacing now. We didnt know. B. had been on medication for only a few days. Had this
been long enough? And how did mom say it was spread? Through "oral fecal
"You mean if he didnt wash his hands, and we all eat these cookies,
we could get a parasite?" my dad practically shouted.
It was decided we would not eat the cookies. But what would we do with them? B.
would ask about them, we knew he would. And he might be in the hotel room over the next
few days. He would certainly notice the still full tub ocookies.
"Maybe we should just hide it" my sister suggested.
"We cant do that," I said, "Hell ask about them.
Then when we lie and say we ate them all and they were very yummy, hell ask for the
We thought about it.
"We could throw them out," my mother offered, half-heartedly. We all
would feel bad about that. You dont just go throwing out food. And it was a gift. I
know we were each thinking about how happy he had been when he gave us the cookies. No one
wanted to risk eating a cookie, and no one wanted to hurt B.s feelings by telling
him we were afraid to eat the cookies. It seemed like throwing them out was the only thing
we could do.
"We cant throw them all out at once. What if B. comes back here
tomorrow. Theres no way hell believe we ate all of these in one night."
We thought some more.
"How about if we just throw them out a few at a time?"
"But if we throw out a few every day, he might see them in the trash, and
that will make him upset."
"We can throw them away outside. Theres a big covered trash can out
there in the hall!"
And so it was decided. Every morning for the next couple of days, we would each
take a few cookies, only as much as we would have eaten normally. Into the trash they
would go. No one mentioned it, but the guilt hung thick when B. would ask us "So did
you guys like the cookies?" or say "I hope you dont mind that I used
pecans instead of walnuts..." We felt bad, but we never told him what we really did
with the cookies.
It doesnt sound like a big deal, right? Lying to save your health while
sparing someones feelings is not a bad thing, right? Then why do I feel so bad every
time I think about this?