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I Heart American Cheese...A First Love Story of Sorts

I Heart American Cheese...A First Love Story of Sorts

Out lesbian stand-up comic Jen Kober regales us with a tale of one of her first loves...individually wrapped American Cheese slices! 'I was overweight even as a child, so I was only allowed two slices a day. But, as any fat kid can tell you, sneaking the food out of the kitchen is half the high. I would often enjoy 7 or 8 individually cellophane wrapped slices at a time. Delicious.'

Growing up in the south, my mother was naturally drawn to the big bargain buy-more clubs that popped up on every corner soon after Wal-Mart came to town.  If my mother needed a dozen eggs, she bought four dozen eggs.  If my mother needed a roll of paper towels, she bought 48 rolls of paper towels.  Everything came in two's: Giant bottles of mouthwash, super tall cans of non-stick cooking spray, vats of creamy peanut butter -- all held captive together by the thick plastic wrap that could wield a nasty paper cut if you didn't handle it just right. 

I always enjoyed her bulk buying habits because there was always plenty of food in the house.  And my favorite item was the giant block of 72 individually cellophane wrapped slices of American cheese.  I loved them.  I was overweight even as a child, so I was only allowed two slices a day. But, as any fat kid can tell you, sneaking the food out of the kitchen is half the high. I would often enjoy 7 or 8 individually cellophane wrapped slices at a time. Delicious.

The next afternoon my mother called me into the kitchen to ask me why there were 16 slices missing from the 72 slice box.  I couldn't believe it.  She was spying on my cheese eating! This was it. Now I was being watched and drastic measures had to be taken.  I had to commit.  No longer would I sneak 7 or 8 slices at a time.  Now I had to eat the whole box and convince her she never bought it.

The bathroom was the only room in my mother's house where I was allowed to lock the door. I would gently open the refrigerator, careful not to let the glass ketchup bottle clink in the door. I'd grab the box of American cheese, slip it under my t-shirt and tip toe behind the couch while my mom watched Dallas. Once I was safely inside the bathroom I would lock the door and climb into the bathtub. That cold smooth porcelain felt so good against the back of my fat little thighs.  And I would begin the beguine.  Unwrapping each individually wrapped slice of cheese and carefully folding them into squares that I would build into tall American Cheese towers and chomp down with my mouth.

I always loved to take a small square and stick it to the roof of my mouth and act like I had a cheese retainer.  Or I would swish a small square of it around in my mouth until it made cheese juice that I would then swallow in a one shot gulp. Once I folded the cheese into tiny freckles that I put all over my body, pretending I had some sort of cheese induced chicken pox.  Oh there had never been such a tasty outbreak! And as I devoured each slice of individually cellophane wrapped American cheese, I would leisurely toss the wrappers into the toilet and lovingly flush them down with my big toe.

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It was not long after that I awakened to the shrill cry of my younger sister Laura, "Mama! The toilet won't swallow!"

"Damn it!" My mother would scream in reply. What did you try to get to go down this time, Laura?"  Laura got a bad rep back in the day for once trying to flush my Dad's beeper because she didn't like that when it went off he would have to go to work.  A sweet sentiment, but when a surgeon can't get his pages, it becomes a problem. 

Laura followed the beeper incident with a valiant attempt to flush her Teddy Ruxpin doll after she put a Madonna tape into his belly, and she said it turned him evil.  The south raises you to have a healthy fear of coming in contact with a devil or demon if you don't act right, which permeates all religious lines.  Being Jewish didn't make us immune to a good ole fashioned possession.

As my parents gathered around the commode trying to figure out what the blockage was all about, I remained silent.  I was a kid.  Plumbing was not my problem.  Naturally, when the plumber snaked the pipe and returned from under the house with hundreds of cellophane wrappers, the jig was up.  My mother called up the stairs, "Jennifer Kober, get your fat little ass down here now!"

"What, mama?" I asked sweetly.

"Did you eat 200 slices of cheese?  What the hell is wrong with you?  You'll never poop again. Jesus!  I should have danced that night!" Admittedly my mother was not the most nurturing of souls. My mother should have raised snakes, not children.

That day she hung a curtain, took the bathroom door off the hinges and never bought American cheese again.

Last week while I was home, my mom made me a grilled cheese sandwich. I quipped that I couldn't believe she had finally broken down and bought American cheese slices again.

"I didn't," she said. "It's Velveeta. No wrappers."



Originally from Lake Charles, LA - Comedian Jen Kober has bounded onto the national stage bringing crowds to their feet with her original blend of stand-up, story telling, and improvised rock-n-roll comedy.

Kober has appeared on HBO, Showtime, TBS, Oxygen, and is currently featured in Jamie Kennedy's new movie, HECKLER.

Jen Kober and her wife Susan currently live in Los Angeles, where Jen continues to develop new material and travel the globe spreading mass amounts of laughter world-wide.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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