Gold stars: a well-trained mother, plus cheese and chocolate
1. My mother called at 10:30am, wanting to know if I would wear a crocheted poncho, just hypothetically. She is well trained, having survived a trial by fire.
When I was fifteen she really outdid herself at Christmas. Mom usually has exquisite taste, and she fully supported my teenage forays into burgundy hair (which she dyed for me), clunky boots, lots of layers, and 11-cent thrift-shop men’s pants. But that Christmas, she strayed too far into the realm of ultra-trendy grungesque wear, bringing home for me a baggy flannel dress and a rubber belt with bottle-caps on it, among other unmentionables. This was a huge mistake. Dear reader, I very nearly died that morning under the Christmas tree. In an effort to be good-natured—there’s nothing more painful than putting on a brave face when confronted with a horrible gift—I agreed to try on the aforementioned articles. I put on the dress, and then I cried. I wouldn’t come out of my room. Complete and total meltdown: sniveling, hiding, whathaveyou. By the end of the day we'd discovered that my hysteria was actually due to a nasty flu virus, and I spent the following week sleeping on the couch in the den, living on Comtrex, and effortlessly shedding eight pounds. Mom’s presents, however, remained an unmitigated disaster and were confined to the back of my closet, still in their boxes. Even eleven years later, I wince in retelling this.
And so it was established that my mother would refrain from buying clothing for me without my approval. Hence this morning’s call and the poncho question, which was met with a negative, rest assured. But she called back three minutes later, giggly and secretive and unfazed, to ask, “So, would you wear something fur? Something that goes around your neck? Fur? Yes? Chocolate brown?” Well now, affirmative! I love that woman. This calls to mind another snippet from Ted Kooser’s interview in the New York Times Magazine:
“Q: Is an unhappy childhood a prerequisite for a career in poetry?
Kooser: I had a wonderfully happy childhood. As the writer William Maxwell said of his mother, ‘She just shone on me like the sun.’”
Oh Mommy Mommy.
2. Friday lunch: a sandwich of Grafton two-year white cheddar and grated carrots on lightly toasted wheaty wheat bread. This is a staple chez moi. The sweetness of the carrots is a perfect foil for the tangy sharpness of the cheddar. Miam miam. Also highly recommended on cinnamon-raisin bread.
3. When baking three dozen chocolate cupcakes for PPNW’s third anniversary party, there’s nothing better than Blackalicious. Please take heed. Scrubbing away at that weird pink mold in the shower? Blackalicious. Feeling bleary-eyed and whiny at 6:30 in the morning? Blackalicious, honey. Plotting your next move? Blackalicious. Gold-star day? I think you see where I’m headed.