It was a decade ago, give or take another, when it started. The fight. The loss. The covert combat for food in our family.

I struck first. My lovely wife and I were mid-snack in our house one day. I ate a banana. She ate a banana. I ate another banana. She started eating another banana, then stopped a moment to say something. I was not listening. As if driven by reflex, my body computed that the male-to-female distance was ideal. I bent forward, right over, smoothly toward her.... Hey, get your mind out of the gutter - I was aimed at hand holding the peeled fruit. Less than three syllables into her speech, my mouth was on a trajectory that perfectly enclosed her second banana. I stole a bite. A big bite, like half. All before she or I even consciously realized what happened. I straightened up. It took her a few seconds to figure it out, then ... "HEEEYYYY!!!".

My smug smile upon recalling the raid could not be chiseled away for several years.

What I did not realize is that she was plotting revenge.

It was a dish served cold. She didn't even do it herself: she subcontracted to son number one. He's almost 13 now, growing like mad and eating even madder. The wife has somehow hypnotized him into believing that taking food from me is not only forgivable, it is also proper. At least I assume she has done it, because he's so good at it and she laughs every time. Slices of ham, the occasional berry, whatever .... if it's on my plate and if Eric can reach over quietly, he does. Sometimes I get a "please" afterwards (?!). Rarer still is a "thank you". Alas, fatherhood.

Round #3 went to me. Just the other day, I deliberately stole freshly cut smoked cheese off of son number two's sandwich. Yup, he had it all set up, all ready to eat, but I distracted him. "Look out the window - there's a bird!" ... or some such manipulative lie, well-aware of Stuart's fascination with nature. Even though the boy is quite astute, he trusted me that time. And yes, I stole one cube. Then, with another distracting line, another, and then another. I was starting to feel guilty, but not guilty enough to stop. But by now, Juimiin was laughing her head off -- which tipped Stuart off about the crime in progress. "HEEEEYYYYY!"

He took it out on me later by stealing my stuffed Scouting plush wolf.

The punchline to this sorry saga occurred today at lunch. For the first time, criminal went head-to-head against criminal. I was neither: it was boy #2 vs wife #1, both pecking at a piece of chinese bakery bun. Like two pretend-starving seagulls, they poked at it with chopsticks. They ripped with hands. They bit into the piece -- then pulled it from each other's sweaty-tooth madman hands. This was all over one little delicious coconut bun. It went on for a few minutes, with crumbs all over the place, and both parties having a great time.

What they didn't realize was that I was studying their tactics the whole time. I realize I can beat them both. I have a plan for the remaining buns in the house. Kind reader, say a prayer for this once and again dominant food pirate, for the aftermath is unpredictable. If you don't hear from me in a few more days, send a rescue party. And a bag of buns.