The Carrot Catastrophe

Brandon hated carrots. They tasted wrong, and they couldn’t make up their minds. They were almost sweet but a little bit not sweet, and they were either too crunchy or too mushy. They were orange, and that was Brandon’s least favorite color. He couldn’t think of anything he liked that was orange.

His mom knew he didn’t like carrots, and she didn’t serve them often.   His dad liked to pretend that carrots were inside everything. “Don’t eat that ice cream,” he said once. “I’m sure it’s full of carrots. Just give it to me, and I’ll take care of it.”

Another time he said, “Did you know that hot dogs are really seventy percent carrots? You might as well put a cooked carrot on your hot dog bun. Would you like me to get you one?” He was always saying stuff like that. Brandon ignored it.

His sister was always asking for carrots. She insisted that she loved carrots. She’d eat them slowly and loudly say things like, “These are so yummy.   It’s too bad that Brandon is missing out. Yummm.”

Which was annoying, but not as bad as the year she’d asked for carrot cake for her birthday. Brandon was stuck with a bowl of vanilla ice cream while everyone else ate cake. It was carrot cake, so of course he didn’t want any, but he would have liked to have some other kind of cake and not miss out all together.

When his sister won an award at school for kindness, Mom said that she could choose what they had for dinner. “Carrots, of course,” she said. “And meatloaf. Maybe you could grate some carrots into the meatloaf for flavor. I bet it would make it extra tasty.”

“Are you sure they awarded the kindness award to the right person?” Brandon asked. “Right now that seems a little suspicious.”

“Brandon,” Mom said. “That’s enough. And I won’t add carrots to the meatloaf.”

“Fine, fine,” his sister said. She smiled sweetly. “Thank you, Mom. I’ll go do my homework now.”

“Great idea,” Mom said. “Do you have any homework, Brandon?”

“Nope. I can stay here and help you in the kitchen,” he said. That way he would be able to watch and make sure that no carrots were added to the meatloaf, but he didn’t say that.

No carrots were added to the meatloaf. Brandon set the table and filled the water glasses. When dinner was done cooking, Mom called everyone to the table. She carried over the meatloaf and the mashed potatoes at the same time. It was rather impressive.

“Brandon, can you get the carrots?” she asked.

Brandon looked at the dish of evil, toxic orange carrots. Inside, it felt like his good side and bad side were wrestling. For a moment, the good side won.   He reached out to pick up the dish and set it on the table far, far away from his chair. But then his bad side leapt out of nowhere once again, and he had to pull his hands back before he could knock the dish of carrots to the floor.

“Brandon, are you coming?” Mom asked.

Brandon picked up the dish of carrots. He walked slowly to the table, holding the dish of carrots tightly to his chest so that he didn’t give in to the impulse to drop the dish and call it an accident. This was all his sister’s fault.

She probably didn’t even really like carrots. Who really liked carrots? She probably only pretended to eat them, just so that they were on the table to torture Brandon with their awful carrotness.

Brandon looked up. His sister was smiling. She looked happy, but a nice sort of happy, not the sort where you know someone is happy because someone else is sad. Maybe she really did like carrots. It was unlikely, but in that moment, it seemed possible.

He loosened his grip on the carrots. Somehow, he didn’t really feel like dropping them anymore. They were gross, but were they really evil? They were just an unappetizing vegetable, that was all.

And then, he tripped. There wasn’t even anything on the floor. He just tripped over nothing, and the dish of carrots flew out of his hands and fell to the floor with a crash as the dish broke.

Brandon didn’t fall down. He just stumbled another step, looked down at the mess, and then looked up. His sister was already crying noisily, and his parents looked upset. “It was an accident,” he said. “I had just decided not to drop it on purpose after all.”

Perhaps that wasn’t quite the right thing to say. He was sent to his room while everyone else cleaned up the mess.   Later, he came down and his mom gave him a meatloaf sandwich.   “Brandon, if you hate carrots this much, you may run into trouble later. Carrots are added to a lot of different things.   Maybe I should grate carrot into things sometimes so that you can get used to the taste.”

And that’s when Brandon realized that carrots were evil after all. He was certain they’d orchestrated the entire event just to torture him. He vowed that someday, he would take over the world and wipe out all carrots everywhere for the good of mankind. Had his good side or bad side just won? He wasn’t sure.