by Aunt Clara –
Burt had a problem with perspective in life as well as in kitchen dishware.
When Burt would prepare his cereal in the morning he would always reach for a mixing bowl rather than a cereal bowl. Why he would put one small cup of cereal in a much larger quart bowl was beyond Aunt Clara’s comprehension. In all his cereal eating years, Burt was never known to eat more than that small amount of breakfast cereal but he would always use a huge bowl. Aunt Clara would even set out a 250cc size bowl that was more than adequate for one cup of cereal. But Burt would move right by the proper bowl and go for the biggest most monstrous bowl he could find. How ridiculous that little man looked sitting at the table eating out of a huge mixing bowl.
Being a married man, Burt suffered from typical morning deafness that so many married men seem to suffer from. No matter how Aunt Clara tried to explain the error of his ways, Burt would just keep eating his Maypo while reading The Grafton News.
The battle of the bowls became unpleasant when Aunt Clara, in a stroke of genius, hid all the large bowls into the back pantry, leaving only proper sized cereal dishware in the cupboard.
Burt came down the stairs in his favorite sleep shirt with that silly morning grin on his face and opened the cupboard. A confused look washed over his face. He rubbed his eyes, scratched his head and opened the next cupboard over. “Aunt Clara,” where are all the bowls?” It was now Aunt Clara’s turn to feign morning deafness.
Burt continued to search, even looking in the linen closet, but being a man he was not a good looker. There was no way he was finding those bowls. After standing there hemming and hawing Burt did the unthinkable. He grabbed a huge cooking pot, put in a small amount of cereal, poured his milk and began eating. It was after this that Aunt Clara tried to find professional help. Burt clearly suffered from Large Bowl Perspective Impairment or LBPI.
In those days not much was known about LBPI. Aunt Clara had to interview psychologists, study medical books at the library and even visit the Betty Crocker Institute in order to better understand.
Most treatments were experimental and none were accepted by the American Medical Association. Locking Burt in a room for many hours with only one small bowl, a box of cereal and milk only caused him to become more anxious. Removing all the large bowls from the home did not work as Burt would run to the neighbors looking for dishware. There was no way Aunt Clara was going to allow him to run over to the Widow Kelly’s house every morning.
The Pavlov system did work. This was a large bracelet that was locked on Burt’s wrist and with which Aunt Clara could deliver a shock whenever he reached for a larger bowl than was necessary. The problem was that it caused Burt to break out in large hives which itched and bled. Burt was such a mess that he could not even go to work.
After much discussion with Burt’s psychiatrist it was decided he would seek help on an outpatient basis and with Aunt Clara’s wisdom and compassion, his LBPI could be managed. It would not be easy and there would be periods of remission and exacerbation. However, Aunt Clara had married Burt for better or worse, in sickness and health, through good times and bad. She was not about to give up on this feeble man she had taken as her husband.
Aunt Clara did get the last laugh years later when she buried Burt in a coffin that was neither too large nor too small. Burt was destined to spend eternity in a space that fit him just perfectly.
And that was how he was finally cured of his LBPI.