Growing up, Harold was nothing more than the quiet, slightly overweight nerdy kid who stuck to himself. Too shy and socially awkward to fit in, he spent most of his time with his nose stuffed into the latest comic book. He could rattle off all sorts of facts about his favorite superheros (that is if he could ever get anyone to talk to him long enough.) The girls often twittered and giggled as he walked by. The boys played many a prank at his expense. You know the type.
Shortly before the Awakening, when his whole world was thrown upside down by his sudden transformation into an 8’ troll during his Senior year of high school, his most memorable conversation happened to be with a group of jocks. He was walking out of the school library, books on medieval history tucked under one arm, when he overheard some other boys huddled together and snickering.
“Why ‘vulva’? It sounds so weird.” He heard one say. The others snickered some more.
Such a strange word caught Harold’s attention. Vulva. It felt weird to think, even more so to say.
Harold stopped and walked up to them, tentatively.
Jake, blond, broad-shouldered football player, noticed the boy creeping toward them.
“Um… hi,” Harold said so quietly the others heard only a mumble. Faces swiveled toward his voice and he turned crimson with embarrassment, feeling all the blood rush to his face at once.
Jake started to say something but Ben slapped him on the shoulder and shook his head. “What’s up, Harold?” He said, his voice even but his eyes dancing with mischief.
Emboldened, Harold said, “Wha… what… are you… um, talking about?”
Someone snorted and a few others laughed.
“Vulvas, little man,” Ben said. “Vulvas. What do your books say about that?”
“Um, I don’t know that word,” he admitted. “But I’d really like to learn.”
“Well, it’s a sort of dish. French. Very fancy. Only the rich can afford to eat it.”
Harold thought a bit. “That sounds fantastic! I wish I had enough money to buy some. Maybe I’ll ask my mom if she knows how to cook it.”
Silence reigned for a moment. Harold kicked himself for getting too excited. Outside of abuse, this was the longest any of these boys had ever paid attention to him.
“You do that,” Ben said and turned back to his buds.
Harold asked his mother about it that night and got a slap for his troubles. He cried and ran to his room, but this was nothing new. She had become ever more religious since his father had left and it seemed such reactions were the norm. She often ranted about the demon-spawn Indians and how God would rain down destruction upon them soon enough for their dealings with the Father of Lies.
With the Awakening and Harold’s transformation, life changed dramatically for him. His mother could not handle the strain of dealing with her son becoming one of those “heathen mutants” and took her own life. He moved in with his grandfather, who took care of Harold as best he could until a stroke ended his life.
Now graduated, living in a small, remote town with little outside contact, Harold thought over his life. He had been working as a busboy in a small burger joint to support his comic habit but had no other aspirations in life. He did, however, have a decent inheritance from his grandfather. Enough to purchase his place of employment. He did so, feeling that he was eking out his place in the world.
He wanted it to be his own, to stamp his own personal mark on the place. So, he changed the name, calling it the fanciest thing he could come up with.
Casa de Vulva.
Despite looking through every French cookbook he could find, he still didn’t know what kind of dish it was. But that didn’t deter him. He settled in and ran his business. No one in that small town had the heart to tell him the truth. Some out of embarrassment. Others because he was an 8’ troll who’d been duped for years.
So if you find yourself in an out-of-the-way town in Iowa and stop at a quirky little place to eat, you’ll know the story behind it. And please don’t say anything to the troll.