2017.12.13 A princess in search of a pea feat. Taylor Ballinger

This might be the start of a new concept. I had half of a column written, but I had nothing more to say. My wife suggested that my son-in-law, Taylor, finish it off. Now it’s a whole column.


Remember the story of the Princess and the Pea?

Actually I don’t quite remember it myself. I know it involves a princess and I recall that she had a very restless, sleepless night because someone placed a pea underneath the stack of mattresses upon which she slept and the discomfort kept her awake.

What I don’t remember is why this was done. Why such a stack of mattresses and who gave her the pea test? And why the pea test? 

I assume it was to find out if she was a real princess, but why do princesses have such extraordinary tactile senses to feel a dried pea through several feet of mattresses?

The story comes to mind from time to time when I commit the crime of running water in a sink while my wife is showering. How can she possibly notice?

If I’m taking a shower and she flushes the toilet upstairs, I notice a decrease in water pressure, and I continue showering. I don’t start screaming. I’m no prince.

I have learned through the years to never flush the toilet while my wife is showering. If I want a drink of water, I’ve learned to trickle the water into the glass for a minute or so in hopes of escaping detection, but that seldom works. She knows and she screams.

Last week she was showering and I wanted to eat an apple. I also wanted to rinse the apple in water in hopes of removing the booger that the apple picker had on his finger while packing my apple.

I knew that I would have to run the water very slowly. As I walked toward the sink, Colleen yelled, “Who is running water?”

Dang, this is no princess. This is the queen.

When I told her about this incident, I referred to it as a “princess and the demented pea” tale. She thought that was kind of me to move the word “demented” in front of the word “pea.” It could have been a error; it could have been an intentional act of self-preservation. Either way, she knows who I really think is demented.


As the father of young children, I've read “The Princess and the Pea” several times over the past few years. I've always assumed it was less about the princess’s incredible tactile sense and more about her need to live in complete, uninhibited luxury. 

While this is not a need that the Ballinger family is familiar with, I can relate to living with people for whom certain things MUST be done in very specific ways, particularly as it relates to food.

For instance, did you know that for my children (four-year-old Ellie and six-year-old Caroline) it is physically impossible to eat peanut butter and honey sandwiches with the crust on? Bread crusts are apparently detrimental to their health, as the pea is to the princess. 

Quesadillas are a staple of our weekly dinner routine. However, in our house cheese quesadillas can ONLY be consumed if made with cheddar cheese (Ellie), or if the tortilla is without even a hint of burn marks (Caroline). Salsa is an option but it can't be too spicy, but also not too mild, but also not sweet, unless it’s just a tiny bit sweet. Then it’s OK (Rosanna). 

Breakfast food is a family favorite. But eggs are typically left out because they can only be eaten if scrambled and “well-done” (Rosanna), with ridiculous amounts of ketchup (Caroline), or not at all (Ellie).

On “Friday Fun Nights,” when we typically eat pizza and watch “Moana” for the 25th time, the children demand that the pie can only be topped with sauce and cheese. And if the crust is too crispy it is deemed inedible. Most nights I’m tasked with polishing off three-fourths of a pizza myself. 

And if we’re going out to eat, forget it. We need a place that serves vegetarian (Rosanna), yogurt or avocado (Ellie), and has either cheeseburgers or some sort of meat sandwich (Caroline). 

Of course, I'm not immune to the food-related needs. Vinegar is my kryptonite. Rosanna typically cuts the amount of vinegar in our various recipes by half. It doesn’t matter. Even the slightest amount leaves me convinced she’s trying to sabotage the meal so she can have it all to herself. That’s all right by me, though. I’ve got runny eggs and bread crusts to keep me satisfied.