Recently, Keith’s mother relayed this tale to me. Some time ago, she planted a paradise-like array of wild flowers in the backyard. This was something she had always wanted to do, but unfortunately, cultivating wild flowers in suburban New Jersey proved very challenging. Eventually, after many moons, her hard work paid off and the wild flowers bloomed in all their glory. Until, that is, she and Keith’s father returned from a weekend away to find that Keith’s twin brother, Craig, had mowed and manicured both yards, inadvertently destroying her floral pride and joy.
Keith’s mother was devastated, but knew that Craig had just been trying to do something nice for them by surprising them with a freshly mowed lawn. She didn’t want to make him feel bad, so she thanked him for mowing the lawn and endured the loss of her wild flowers privately, in the comfort of her own room, never saying a word. (Presumably, she did at some subsequent point. If not … um … oops.)
You know the parallel universe technique oft used on TV (see the unbearably bad Slomin’s Shield commercials currently airing), in which a narrator or protagonist gets to witness the same situation with different outcomes? I pictured the accidental wild flower extinction in my own childhood home, a mere four miles away. Lemme tell ya. It would NOT have gone down the same way.
Travel back with me, if you will, to an average weekday in central New Jersey, circa 1976. Jamie (age 2) and I (age 4) were entertaining ourselves in the living room. I was overcome by a brilliant idea: we’d make a pie. It would be great! Crustless. Beautiful. Delicious. And the best part?! We could make it RIGHT THERE IN THE SHAG CARPET!
Jan would be soooooooooo proud.
When I revealed the plan to Jamie, she was thrilled to be serving as my sous-chef.
I believe her response went something like this [insert gremlin voice]: “Yeh. Heh heh. Yeh.”
The main and only ingredients in the pie were brown sugar and salt. This is because the sensation of opening and closing the little silver spouts on their respective containers filled me with satisfaction. Should you wish to make your own crustless brown sugar and salt pie, the recipe is as follows.
You Will Need:
1 box brown sugar, with silver spout
1 box salt, with silver spout
1 eager beaver diaper-clad toddler
1 shag carpet
Add brown sugar and salt to taste
Hand boxes to eager beaver diaper-clad toddler; instruct her to put them away
Wait as eager beaver diaper-clad toddler waddles to kitchen, then waddles back
Immediately instruct eager beaver diaper-clad toddler to turn around and fetch brown sugar and salt again
Wait as eager beaver diaper-clad toddler waddles to kitchen and back
Add brown sugar and salt to taste
Repeat until bored
When we were done, we summoned Jan. I could not wait to see the look of pride on her face. She’d see how much I admired and wanted to be just like her — I too was a domestic goddess. I clearly had a passion for creative baking. Maybe Jan would give me my own kiddie apron. OMFG! Maybe it would have Holly Hobbie on it! Or maybe she’d hug me and tell me what a fantastic job I’d done! Maybe she’d even pour us glasses of milk like Mrs. Brady would and we could enjoy the crustless pie together!
Or, maybe she’d take one look at it and burst into tears.
And then scream for about half an hour.
And then talk to herself in a rage for another 10 while she vacuumed the mess formerly known as pie.
And then refuse to talk to me for a day.
I still remember eating our breaded chicken cutlets in sad silence that night.