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双语阅读"我和我的祖母"

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  我祖父在我小时候就去世了,我祖母每年都和我们住在一起大约六个月。她住在一间兼作我父亲办公室的房间里,我们称之为“后房”。她身上带着浓郁的香味。我不知道她用了什么香水,不过是双筒的、防九十的、打倒的、使受害者失去知觉的、杀驼鹿的香水。她把它放在一个巨大的雾化器中,频繁地和自由地应用它。几乎不可能进入她的房间并保持呼吸的任何时间。当她要离开家和我莉莲姑妈一起住六个月时,我妈妈和姐姐们会打开所有的窗户,剥掉床,取出窗帘和地毯。然后,他们会花上好几天的时间清洗和晾晒东西,疯狂地尝试发出刺鼻的气味。
 
  这就是当时我祖母在臭名昭著的豌豆事件发生时的情景。
 
  那是在比尔特莫尔饭店举行的,在我八岁的孩子看来,那里简直就是普罗维登斯全城最美妙的就餐地。我的祖母、母亲和我在一个上午购物后吃午饭。我隆重地订了一份索尔兹伯里牛排,他很自信地知道,在那个花哨的名字下面是一个很好的带有肉汁的汉堡包。带到桌上时,它端着一盘豌豆。
 
  我现在不喜欢豌豆。那时我不喜欢豌豆。我一直讨厌豌豆。对我来说,为什么每个人都会自愿吃豌豆是一个谜。我没有在家吃。我没有在餐馆吃饭。我现在肯定不会吃它们了。
 
  “吃你的豌豆,”我祖母说。
 
  “妈妈,”我母亲用警告的声音说。他不喜欢豌豆。别管他。”
 
  “我祖母没有回答,但是她的眼睛里闪烁着光芒,下巴僵硬,表明她不会受挫折。她向我靠过来,看着我的眼睛,说了一句改变我生活的决定性的话:“如果你吃了那些豌豆,我就付你5美元。”
 
  我完全不知道即将来临的厄运。我只知道五美元是一笔巨大的、几乎难以想象的金钱,而且像豌豆一样可怕,在我和那五美元的占有者之间只有一盘豌豆。我开始把这些可怜的东西强行放在喉咙里。
 
  我母亲脸色发青。我的祖母有一个自以为是的人,他投下了一张不可战胜的王牌。“我可以做我想做的事,爱伦,你不能阻止我。”我母亲怒视着她的母亲。她怒视着我。没有人能像我母亲一样瞪大眼睛。如果有一个耀眼的奥运会,她无疑会赢得金牌。
 
  我当然不停地把豌豆推到喉咙里。耀眼的光芒让我紧张,每一粒豌豆都让我想吐,但那五美元的神奇形象浮现在我面前,我终于把最后一粒都塞住了。祖母欣然地递给了我五美元。我母亲继续默默地怒视着。这一集结束了。我想是这样。
 
  几周后,我的祖母去了莉莲姨妈家。那天晚上,在晚餐时,我妈妈吃了我最喜欢的两种食物,肉饼和土豆泥。他们一起来了一大碗热气腾腾的豌豆。她给了我一些豌豆,而我,在我无辜的青春的最后时刻,拒绝了。我母亲用冰冷的眼睛盯着我,她在我的盘子里堆了一大堆豌豆。接着是多年来萦绕在我心头的话。
 
  “你是为了钱吃的,”她说。你可以为了爱而吃它们。”
 
  哦,绝望!哦,毁灭!现在,为时已晚,恍然大悟,我不知不觉地把自己逼到了一个无法逃脱的地狱。
 
  “你是为了钱才吃的。你可以为了爱而吃它们。”
 
  我有什么理由反对这一点呢?一点也没有。我吃豌豆了吗?当然了。那天我吃了他们,然后每隔一段时间就吃。五美元很快就花光了。几年后,我的祖母去世了。但豌豆的遗存却一直延续至今。如果上菜时我还是撅着嘴唇(毕竟,我还是讨厌那些可怕的小东西),我母亲就再一次重复那些可怕的话:“你吃它们是为了钱,”她说。你可以为了爱而吃它们。”
 

My grandfather died when I was a small boy, and my grandmother started staying with us for about six months every year. She lived in a room that doubled as my father's office, which we referred to as "the back room." She carried with her a powerful aroma. I don't know what kind of perfume she used, but it was the double-barreled, ninety-proof, knockdown, render-the-victim-unconscious, moose-killing variety. She kept it in a huge atomizer and applied it frequently and liberally. It was almost impossible to go into her room and remain breathing for any length of time. When she would leave the house to go spend six months with my Aunt Lillian, my mother and sisters would throw open all the windows, strip the bed, and take out the curtains and rugs. Then they would spend several days washing and airing things out, trying frantically to make the pungent odor go away.
This, then, was my grandmother at the time of the infamous pea incident.
 
It took place at the Biltmore Hotel, which, to my eight-year-old mind, was just about the fancies place to eat in all of Providence. My grandmother, my mother, and I were having lunch after a morning spent shopping. I grandly ordered a salisbury steak, confident in the knowledge that beneath that fancy name was a good old hamburger with gravy. When brought to the table, it was accompanied by a plate of peas.
 
I do not like peas now. I did not like peas then. I have always hated peas. It is a complete mystery to me why anyone would voluntarily eat peas. I did not eat them at home. I did not eat them at restaurants. And I certainly was not about to eat them now.
 
"Eat your peas," my grandmother said.
 
"Mother," said my mother in her warning voice. "He doesn't like peas. Leave him alone."
 
“My grandmother did not reply, but there was a glint in her eye and a grim set to her jaw that signaled she was not going to be 14)thwarted. She leaned in my direction, looked me in the eye, and uttered the fateful words that changed my life: "I'll pay you five dollars if you eat those peas."
 
I had absolutely no idea of the impending doom. I only knew that five dollars was an enormous, nearly unimaginable amount of money, and as awful as peas were, only one plate of them stood between me and the possession of that five dollars. I began to force the wretched things down my throat.
 
My mother was livid. My grandmother had that self-satisfied look of someone who has thrown down an unbeatable trump card. "I can do what I want, Ellen, and you can't stop me." My mother glared at her mother. She glared at me. No one can glare like my mother. If there were a glaring Olympics, she would undoubtedly win the gold medal.
 
I, of course, kept shoving peas down my throat. The glares made me nervous, and every single pea made me want to throw up, but the magical image of that five dollars floated before me, and I finally gagged down every last one of them. My grandmother handed me the five dollars with a flourish. My mother continued to glare in silence. And the episode ended. Or so I thought.
 
My grandmother left for Aunt Lillian's a few weeks later. That night, at dinner, my mother served two of my all-time favorite foods, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Along with them came a big, steaming bowl of peas. She offered me some peas, and I, in the very last moments of my innocent youth, declined. My mother fixed me with a cold eye as she heaped a huge pile of peas onto my plate. Then came the words that were to haunt me for years.
 
"You ate them for money," she said. "You can eat them for love."
 
Oh, despair! Oh, devastation! Now, too late, came the dawning realization that I had unwittingly damned myself to a hell from which there was no escape.
 
"You ate them for money. You can eat them for love."
 
What possible argument could I muster against that? There was none. Did I eat the peas? You bet I did. I ate them that day and every other time they were served thereafter. The five dollars were quickly spent. My grandmother passed away a few years later. But the legacy of the peas lived on, as it lives on to this day. If I so much as curl my lip when they are served (because, after all, I still hate the horrid little things), my mother repeats the dreaded words one more time: "You ate them for money," she says. "You can eat them for love."

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