"Greg! Mom says to come to dinner or she's giving me your dessert!"
Wirt sat back down as Greg ran in from the living room, setting Robber Raccoon up in the empty chair before taking his place. (He was no longer allowed to bring Jason Funderburker anywhere around food.) Their mother was already seated while Marvin was putting dinner on the table.
Wirt was reaching for some meatloaf when Greg gave a loud gasp.
"We have mashed potatoes! Be right back!"
He jumped up and ran into the kitchen. Their mother gave a sigh, but Marvin snorted in amusement. Wirt turned as he ran back out, carrying a dark jar.
"Greg, what is that?"
Now it was Wirt's turn to snort as their mother said, "What do you need molasses for?"
"For my potatoes! Oh potatoes, and molasses―"
He tipped the jar over his food, singing loudly. Their mom gave Wirt an exasperated look. He jumped shrugged, still smiling.
Greg mixed his concoction thoroughly and stuck a spoonful in his mouth. He made a face, squishing it from cheek to cheek like a wine connoisseur. "How is it, sport?" Marvin asked.
"It's bad. Not nearly as good as it was at school."
"Let me try," Wirt said, leaning across the table and taking a bit with his fork. He tasted it and smacked his lips. "Yeah. A lot blander than I remember."
"Wait, I'm confused," their mother began, but Marvin interrupted.
"Are you sure it was normal potatoes? I think sweet potatoes with molasses would be better."
"But they weren't orange," Greg said, as though he found the idea silly.
"There's also something called white sweet potatoes. They're a little less sweet, but they might blend nicely with the taste of molasses." He looked thoughtful as he poured some gravy on top of his own mashed potatoes. "We should be getting some in at the store soon. I'll pick some up when I can."
Sure enough, a few days later Marvin came home from work and announced that he and Greg were going to try an experiment in the kitchen. Greg practically dragged Wirt in from the other room.
"Greg, c'mon―I don't need to―"
"Ah, join us, Wirt," Marvin said, throwing an arm around his shoulders and leading him into the kitchen. "Your brother said something about you both trying this little recipe together?"
"Yeah, but―last time I tried to use the stove I almost set the house on fire."
"Well, son, you gotta keep trying if you want to improve. Here―roll up your sleeves and help me peel these taters, okay?"
Wirt felt uncomfortable as he squeezed next to him at the counter. Marvin liked to cook and Greg liked to help him; it was one of their big father/son bonding things. And Wirt―well, he didn't exactly belong there, did he?
"You're slicing off too much with the skin," Marvin chided.
Wirt felt his face burn. "Sorry," he said, surprised by how much annoyance found its way into his voice.
"It's alright, no big deal. Tell you what, start slicing up the ones that we've already done. About six pieces each should do."
"And then I get to mash 'em!" Greg called.
"Well, we have to boil 'em first, sport. How 'bout you go and fill the pot up with water?"
He tottled off to obey. A short while later they had the potatoes all boiled, and Greg grinned with relish as he smashed them up into goo. He sang as he did, and then Marvin joined in. Wirt, who wouldn't have felt at all embarrassed doing it with just Greg, looked away awkwardly.
Marvin added some herbs and let Greg pour in the molasses. He mixed it and then picked up the pot, holding it out to Wirt with exaggerated aplomb.
"Do us the honor of the first taste, Wirt?"
He dipped a spoon in and took a bite.
"Oh, wow―this is much better!"
"Let me try!" Greg took his own spoonful and gulped it down. "Hey, yeah! This tastes just like it did in Miss Langtree's cafeteria!"
"I thought your teacher's name was Ms. Sullivan," Marvin muttered, but he didn't dwell on it after taking a bite of his own. "Mmm. This is pretty good."
Wirt took another spoonful. "I think I like this better than normal sweet potatoes," he said―and then winced, as it occurred to him that Marvin was the one who usually made sweet potatoes for the family.
He didn't seem to notice the insult, however. "Well, then we'll just have to make this more often, won't we? Maybe I'll whip up another batch for Thanksgiving."
"Maybe add some chili pepper," he added thoughtfully. "Eh, I'll make two batches. Then we can compare."
Marvin made a plate for when their mom got home from work, and then the three of them gathered around to finish the pot themselves. Greg began to sing again, and Marvin joined in, always a few words behind because he didn't know the words.
"Oh potatoes and molasses!
If you want some, oh, just ask us.
They're warm and soft like puppies in socks,
Filled with cream and candied rocks!
Oh, potatoes and molasses―"
Wirt took another spoonful, watching them belt out ridiculously, and suddenly found himself feeling less awkward and more silly. So he joined it.