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Episode 02: Ham

Storytellers: Lora Staiger

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Find out what happens when my friend, Lora, as a child, hid a ham in an extra bedroom in her parent's new house.

As a child, my favorite meat was ham, and we only got it at Easter and Christmas, so clearly those were my favorite holidays. I would hoard on the ham. I would eat so much ham! My mom would always try to make my plate and she would take up three quarters of my plate with vegetables and I would get one slice of ham.

But I would find a way to get the leftovers. I would be eating ham in the corner somewhere.

One year it was Easter and I was in third grade. We had just moved into a new house. My parents decided to host Easter and I was fucking pumped because we had this ginormous ham and as a child I thought, This is a 40-pound ham! In reality it was probably a five-pound ham. But I was pumped for this!

We had the family over eating the ham and then around 4:00 in the afternoon my parents had packed up all the leftovers. We had a giant a Tupperware. A 13x9 pan of Tupperware filled with ham. It was stacked to the brim. It was one of those Tupperwares that had the lid on it. So my parents carefully tucked it into the bottom shelf of our refrigerator. And my parents were like, "We ate so much food. We're going to go for a walk. We're going to burn all this ham, and all this food off."

Meanwhile, the gears are turning in my head, and I'm like, I'm gonna fucking eat this ham. So my parents left, and I always knew, they would turn the corner and they would do a three-mile loop. So I knew I had a solid 45 minutes to go to town on this ham.

So when my parents left I went downstairs, got the Tupperware out of the refrigerator, and I was like, I'm going up to my bedroom. So I went upstairs and was hanging out in my bedroom. This is after I'd eaten a full meal. So, no, I was not hungry. I didn't need extra ham. It was the fact that it was accessible and I was like, Yeah, I'm gonna eat this ham.

So I take it up to my bedroom and I'm sitting on my twin bed going to town, eating some ham. Probably 10 minutes later, my parents came back. She was too cold. I panicked. I was like, Oh, shit! I'm gonna be in so much trouble because I've got this whole thing of ham in my bed. And we weren't allowed to just eat food whenever. You know, my mom was still monitoring how much food I was intaking. We also weren't allowed to eat upstairs. That was a big no-no. There were very strict rules in our new house.

I panicked. We had a four-bedroom house and all the bedrooms were upstairs, and I had a bedroom that was empty that we used for storage. In a fit of panic I just grabbed the ham and I threw it in a box and I threw that in this extra room across the hall. I ended up sweaty and hot from eating so much ham. I ran downstairs and my parents were like, "Yeah, we were too cold. We decided to come back." So I stayed downstairs. In my head I was like, Remember the ham. Remember it. Don't leave the ham in the room. Because I wanted to eat that shit later. But, being a fat kid, other things got in the way. I was like, Oh, I'll go watch TV, go watch something else. So I totally forgot about it.

About three months down the line, my family is like, "What is this smell in the house." The house is smelling kind of weird. And nobody knew what it was. We were kind of sniffing around. My parents' room was towards the back. They were on the south side of the house and my bedroom was on the north side. My parents would smell it as they were coming up the stairs. And they would get to their bedroom and they're like, "We don't smell it. There must be something dead in the walls of the house." Because it was still a new house. It should have new house smell.

My parents started questioning us, like, "What do you have in your room? Do you have anything in your room?"

I was like, "Nah, I don't have anything in my room."

My mom would sniff around the house. It was like a game. Every single night we would come upstairs to go to bed and my mom would be like, "What's that smell, what's that smell?" And she would be upstairs sniffing around.

Finally, one night, they pinpointed it to the room that was in the northwest corner of the house. For no reason did I ever think, Oh this is the ham that I hid. I had totally, totally forgotten about it. And good thing I forgot it, because had I remembered, I probably would have been like, Ham, yes, I will go eat it. And I would have eaten two-month-old ham. I would have done it. The thought would not have even crossed my mind that it was nasty, sour, rancid ham.

My parents eventually were like, "It's in that extra room." They thought something had crawled into our chimney and died within the chimney and that's what the smell was. Because the chimney went through that section of the house.

So my parents were like, "There's a dead mouse, or something." And then eventually my dad starts unearthing the boxes. And then the smell is getting stronger and stronger and stronger. It's like in that book, Sideways Stories From Wayside School, where they put raincoats on the rat and the teacher keeps unpeeling the layers. My parents were unpeeling the layers of boxes and eventually they found the ham. And then all of a sudden it all came back to me.

I was like, Oh my god, the ham! I'm a terrible liar, so I just ran downstairs.

And I remembered at that moment, and my dad was like, "Oh my god, there's ham in here!" The ham was there. It was maggots all over it.

Meanwhile, I'm like, How do I eat that ham? How do I get to the ham? It was so terrible. Who wants to eat nasty ham? In my head I was like, There's still ham. We need to eat that ham!

The part I missed was that when my parents came back from the walk they didn't question that there was missing ham. The next day we were supposed to have ham leftovers, and then my mom was looking in the fridge, she was like, "Where's all the ham? There should be a 13x9 pan full of ham!"

I totally blamed it on my brother. I was like, "Melmick ate it." My parents never ever questioned it. Why not blame the fat child who loves ham? You know I made a big over the fact that there was going to be ham at Easter.

I eventually told them. I kept it a secret for almost 20 years. My parents thought it was Melmick. My brother was there when I told my parents. I was like, "Hey guys, I'm the one who hid the ham." And I told the whole ham story.

And my brother was like, "I got blamed for that for so many years!"

And I was like, "Yeah, I ate the ham." And I was crying when I was telling the story. I think I didn't tell people until I told my parents.

But had my dad not found it, I would have eaten it for sure.