Mark used to say ‘tender when he meant pretend. He was my cousin, a few years younger than I was. I was about fourteen I guess, and Mark would have been about ten. On rare occasions I would be sent to Mark’s house for lunch because my mother had to be somewhere. That was rare. My father, on the other hand, was always somewhere else.

On those occasions when I ate at Mark’s, we’d eat together. His mother, Aunt Sylvia, my mother’s older sister, would serve each of us a large soup bowl of creamy mashed potatoes. No meat or other vegetables, just mashed potatoes. I pretended it was a proper lunch.

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