Marilyn Gardner Woods
Updated: Mar 16, 2022
Via Zoom, Jan, my good Duplicate-bridge-playing-friend, said, “Can we take a break? I want a V-8.”
When we resumed, I heard the ice clinking in her glass. Gary and Bruce, the others in my regular on-line bridge foursome, did too, most likely. Also, the crunching of her popcorn.
I didn’t particularly want a V-8, even after she mentioned adding a bit of tabasco.
But when she left the room once more and returned saying “Ah, this is what it needs…” and then went on to rave about the extra-large olives—three—she had placed on an extra-long toothpick and submerged into her V-8, I could no longer contain myself.
I had to have an olive.
Just straight up olives.
Fortunately, after a shopping excursion to Costco earlier in the week, there was not one, but a two-pack (firmly ensconced in plastic) of olives, extra-large, stuffed with pimentos in my pantry.
“Be back in a minute,” I sing-songed to my friends.
It would be more like ten minutes when I returned olive-less which naturally increased the desire exponentially.
In between hands, I groused about my dilemma to my bridge-playing pals. As he finished counting his points in the next hand, my partner, Gary, served up “just pound it on the counter.” Bruce suggested hot water on the lid and a third paltry from Jan offered “use a knife just under the lip of the lid; it will break the vacuum seal.”
I struggled off and on when I was dummy for another thirty minutes, leaving the zoom and returning dejected each time without olives. Screw it, I no longer cared about the game. I lusted after a d**m olive.
It wasn’t until some after the Duplicate session when I felt a bit sickish that I remembered my mom’s query. When my brother, my dad, our English Bulldog, or I seemed sickish, she loved to tease “Feeling a little green around the gills?”
Gills, of course, are the organs through which fish breathe; mom never allowed us a goldfish. Can’t imagine where my ultra-feminine mother picked up the unappealing phrase.
Reading further about the idiom I found that since the early 1600s gills also describe the flesh under the jaws and ears of humans. To look green about the gills means to look ill; be sick to one’s stomach.
Apparently the phrase is still used—it made it into the Urban Dictionary which defines Mom’s expression as “ The pasty pallor a person gets when a wave of nausea hits them characterized by paleness in the cheeks and lips, half lidded eyes, and lethargy. Often associated with overindulgence and pre-puke drools."
I did finally get my olives; after our game I walked through the gate that often leads to help with my large jar. In my next-door son’s kitchen, where he easily popped it open and helped himself to one on top.
If, like guessing the number of jellybeans in a giant jar to win a prize, I had to speculate, I’d say there were upwards of ninety olives, some with pimentos half squeezed out, in that jar.
When my feeding frenzy was over, I had eaten at least half. Whether you go with the contemporary version or Mom’s old-school definition, I made myself sick on green olives.
Green all the way around my gills.
Readers thoughts and interesting comments:
I'm sure you've played that game before, where we each pick only a handful of foods we would just have to have if we were abandoned on a faraway island. There are quite a bunch of foods that I would have to have no matter what, but top of the list for me are: tomatoes, avocado, bread, cheese, olives (or olive oil). Like you, I would have gone nuts having those tantalizing olives staring me in the face but not being able to taste them. [I guess wine is a drink so I couldn't include it in the food list even if I wanted to] RS
Old school can/bottle opener. The tip of the point where the jar is threaded. Very little effort is required and it works every time! I love green olives…after reading this I had to have some! am…