cornbread only child

1999’s feature film, “Life” starred Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence surviving false imprisonment and making friends in the process. One famous scene depicts “Goldmouth” asking Martin Lawrence’s character if he is going to eat his cornbread. Attempting to avoid confrontation, “Claude” is happy to oblige. However, Eddie Murphy’s character, “Rayford,” begins a diatribe by exclaiming, “Let him get back in line and get his own portion of cornbread!”

Unwittingly as an only-child I have lived by that same mantra since I’ve been able to put my fine motor skills together to eat my own portion of cornbread. (My dad used to make the best flat-black skillet cornbread this side of the Mississippi). My parents raised me with an entire potato sack full of good intentions; but you know what they say about the correlation between good intentions and Hell. I never learned to share.

Growing up in a household as the only child, I never had to wait and see if anyone else was going to eat the last pork chop, or take the last biscuit, or slice the last piece of pie. Every pork chop, every biscuit and every slice of pie that was left-was mine.

When I got married I was introduced to a concept of which before I had never heard. The first couple of times I went out to a restaurant with my new extended family, I was accosted by someone at the table asking if I wanted to “share” something with them. I was so mortified at the thought of having to cut my own personal portion in half-or heaven forbid-a third, I was speechless. Ever the one aiming to please, I obliged once or twice. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer. One day I approached the love of my life and told her I just couldn’t share a meal with her family, or anyone on earth, for that matter again. It was too traumatic.

According to Mike Pearl (, there is some evidence that only children are “messed up” by definition. “Issues of sharing, issues of cooperation, issues of compromise, issues of making concessions, may be, at least until I get used to it, may be a little harder for me to make [if I’m an only child].”

On behalf of only-children everywhere, it’s not that I don’t want to share what I have at the table. It’s that I want everyone at the table to have their fully-apportioned amount. Un-sharing, you see, is the ultimate form of caring. Let us all be thankful for our own portion of cornbread.


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