When I was a child, I developed a loathing for eggs. Sometimes, when I was ill, my mother would stir an egg into my milk, sweeten it, and try to convince me that it was a kind of milk shake. Invariably, a quivering piece of raw egg-white—something like a boiled booger, cooled and congealed—would lie stranded on my tongue.
Even now, I shudder in remembered disgust.
I could be induced to try a little scrambled egg (if very dry) or a hard-boiled egg (if very cold, and with its shell dyed in the gaudiest Easter-egg colors that modern chemistry could provide), but the very idea of slurping down runny yolks—reeking sulfuriously in their fluorescent yellow nastiness—was the stuff of nightmares.
Just sitting at the breakfast table when my father cut into his sunnyside-ups was an unbearable ordeal. I could turn away, of course, but that eggy smell soon overcame my pitiful attempts at table manners—and there was no way to hide the kicking-in of the gag reflex. I was certain that there was nothing worse that could happen at breakfast.
I was wrong.
One morning, I woke to find that my grandfather had spent the night at our house. He was a silent gray figure, as grizzled and uncuddly as the generations of taciturn Danes who preceded him. He sat—hunched slightly forward—at the breakfast table, looking down at his glass of milk. He remained silent as I sat across from him. He lifted the glass, and slowly—in one long draft—drank the whole thing. It was only at the end, when the cloudy glass was nearly empty, that I saw it.
A raw egg had been lying, hidden like some foul serpent, at the bottom of his glass. Slowly, oh how horribly slowly, the slimy thing slid down the milky film and into his mouth.
Some sixty years later, I have become as gray and grizzled and uncuddly as my grandfather was then—but no power on earth could make me swallow one of those milky raw eggs.