From the Mad Mind
of Anthony Watkins
When I was about ten years old my father spent the winter climbing up into the tops of large trees and cutting the top out so that it would sprout in the spring and he could bud it and change the variety of pecan tree. So you can see that pecans were our family business.
Climbing around the top of a very old pecan tree in Orchard where there were no people and cutting the tree down or at least cutting it back was very dangerous, so my father would take me out of school and I would sit in his truck all day long and watch him. If he got badly injured, my job as a ten-year-old was to drive the truck to the nearest farmhouse and get some help before he bled to death.
On the way to the orchard, which typically was 30 minutes to an hour away from our house depending on where he was working, I would crack pecans and pick the shell off, and, because he was driving, I would stick the pecan in his mouth so he could keep both hands on the steering wheel.
Well one morning I cracked open a pecan and there were two beautiful fat white weevils — what would you call them? worms? Some people might call them maggots but they didn’t look gross.
So my father was watching the old country two-lane road to make sure no cows or pigs or slow-moving farmers wandered out in front of us. Without thinking about it too much, I picked up one little weevil larva, put it in his mouth and before he had time to think about it I put the next one in his mouth, and then I thought it was very funny and I started laughing.
About that time, he realized they didn’t taste exactly like pecans do. They probably tasted a lot like pecans because that’s all they’d ever eaten but kind of gooey and not crunchy like a pecan and I was laughing, so he wanted to know why I was laughing and I started telling him.
I expected to get a beating, but for some reason — I think he was just so astounded — he didn’t even hit me. I quite often did things I thought I might get a beating for if I thought they were worth it. And that became a lifetime story.