Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Carol Brady Experiment: June Cleaver, Part 2

I had planned to make pancakes for breakfast. Oops. We have no milk. June never would have let that happen. (although June probably would have had milk delivered every morning, which, come to think of it, would come in pretty handy with a toddler…) I asked Ryan last night how he felt about no pancakes. He looked at me like I was crazy for even asking.

So, it was sausage and fruit salad instead. Served in a dress and heels with my hair curled and my make-up done. I got up around 6:15 to make sure this happened. And honestly, it wasn’t a big deal. And I got to hang out with my husband for awhile before he went to work. (he asked me where my pearls were. I pulled back my hair to show him my earrings. Because obviously I’m wearing pearls. This is mandatory.) And now it’s 8:30, and I’ve had breakfast, and the breakfast dishes are in the dishwasher, and the cats are fed, and the litter box is clean, and the bed is made, and Lily won’t be up for another hour or so. So far, it seems like maybe June had the right idea… (although I did kick my shoes off without thinking about it when I sat down to write. I feel like that may be an ongoing problem today. I should probably put them back on.)

By 10:30 AM my morning routine was complete. Lily and I were both dressed (I had been dressed since 7...) and the beds were made and the floor was vacuumed and the cats were fed and the dishwasher was empty and the litter box was clean and I just didn’t know what to do with myself. This is why 50’s housewives always had fresh flowers. Because they could. And that’s what we did. We walked to Whole Foods for milk (we could have pancakes tomorrow….) and fresh flowers. And we didn’t see a soul we knew.

By the time we got home Lily needed a nap. So she slept, and I made a pie. More on that later. Ryan came home for lunch and the three of us ate at the table together. This could not have happened a month ago. Ryan told me he had gotten more done that morning than he had in a long time. Score one for breakfast. We made plans to go to a church carnival after dinner, and he headed back to the office. How very husbandly of him.

And today, when that afternoon slump came, I was ready for it. I had already made my pie. I knew how long it would take me to make dinner. Lily and I had played for a long time and she was tired again. (Which, by the way, was ridiculous in my dress and heels. I do not give very fast piggy-back-rides like this. I am a roll around on the floor kind of mom.) So I put her down for a nap, and I took one myself, guilt free. Now I’ve started dinner, and I’m drinking my coffee. Slump defeated.

The three of us ate pot roast together at the table. The table where I had placed a vase full of flowers. I’ve made pot roast before, no big deal. But it felt more official. It’s what we were having for dinner. Together. And we’d been sitting there for a few minutes, and Lily looked at us, and she said- I swear- “One… two.. three… four… five!” We had just been watching Sesame Street, sure. But Ryan and I just looked at each other in shock. It was an amazing dinner table moment, and we celebrated by putting her in her little plaid dress and taking her to the carnival, where she road on the carousel and the elephants that go way up in the air. And she danced to the band. And she ate cotton candy. And then she ran around the apartment and crashed, falling fast asleep. I think the Cleavers must have had similar evenings.

I am good at a lot of things. Making pies is apparently not one of them. Ryan’s favorite dessert is raspberry pie. So I tried. I really did. I made the crust from scratch- I put in the flour and the shortening and the salt and the water. And what resulted looked a whole lot like two sad little sand castles on my kitchen counter. I thought I was going to cry. June could make pies. She made them all the time. I cannot make a pie. I have two masters degrees. Why can’t I make a pie?

I started to wonder what I could make instead. Then I remembered that the crust was just flour and shortening, and that I had plenty of both, and I could try again. I re-read the recipe. I had measured so carefully. And then when I went to add the shortening I had the distinct memory of adding 1/3 cup. The recipe calls for 2/3 cups. Oh.

Certain I would find success this time, as I had found my mistake, I tried again. The dough did at least stick together, but I couldn’t get it to roll out without tearing. I tried half of the dough. Twice. Then I set it aside, deciding I had obviously started with the more difficult half. So I tried the other little ball of dough. I’m not sure how many attempts it took, but I finally ended up with something that would at least cover the bottom of the pie pan. Sort of. And so I set it down in the bottom, and I made my raspberry filling which I added to the “pie.” And then I cut some strips from the rest of the dough and sort of made them look like a pie on the top. It works in art, it should work in baking, right?

Several hours later, after Lily had crashed into her sugar coma and Ryan and I were settling down (“I’m his December bride… he’s father, he knows best…”) for the night, I set out to serve the world‘s ugliest pie. Apologizing the whole way. I made Ryan stop at the grocery store so I could get ice cream. My plan was to put the ice cream on top of the pie, and then no one would know. Sadly, Ryan did not want ice cream. “Are you sure?” I asked. He was sure. I brought him his piece and a cup of coffee, then set out to serve my own. (He asked me if he had to eat it at the table, or if he could eat it in front of the TV. It was a genuine question, and fairly adorable. I told him he could eat in front of the TV.) I was in the bathroom when I heard “MMMMMMMM!!!!!!” I came out, thinking maybe he had cut into the cake instead, and the pie was gone. He told me I’d be sorry I’d ever made him that pie, because now I’d have to make it all the time. Huh.

I have a lot to say about being June. Unfortunately I am too tired to do so this evening.

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