Quack! Quack! Quack! So there!

I understand my grandchildren adjusted their mom’s cell phone so that when I call, a duck starts quacking. That’s my ring—a quacking duck. So what’s that telling me? I just called a little while ago and apparently started quacking loudly in the middle of a wedding reception. Everybody looked over, my daughter let me know.  It sounded like an Aflack commercial. (How do you spell Aflack?) The bride and groom were just heading out onto the dance floor to dance to some romantic music, no doubt, when there’s Grandma Anya! Quack! Quack, Quack! apparently  on high volume. My daughter says she was really embarrassed. 

Well, sorreeee!  I never asked to be a duck.

Hey, I have a great idea! How about, dear grandchildren and my dear daughter, that you make my ring just a little more dignified! Seriously, I’m beginning to relate to that old Rodney Dangerfield character. I get no respect!

:C

No, make that

; P

(That’s me sticking my tongue out)

If you leave me as a duck, I hope I continue to embarrass you! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! Translated, that’s It serves you right.    : D

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Squeaky Jensen

It’s time to share one of my favorite stories. It’s one I included in an article and then later a book I wrote on talents. (I Didn’t Place in the Talent Race)

When he was in high school, one of our neighbors, we’ll call Steve,  admits he didn’t always get the kind of support so many kids are lucky enough to get from their parents. Steve ran track, but his parents rarely attended his competitions. But Steve had a best friend named Squeaky Jensen. Squeaky was a runner as well, but after he ran, Squeaky would hurry over to where Steve was racing. There he’d be at the starting line shouting, “Go Steve, you can do it!” But Squeaky didn’t stop there. He’d cut cross the field so that when Steve came around, there he’d be again on the other side. “You’re doing great, Steve! Go! Go!” And then as Steve neared the finish line and his legs were turning to rubber, there would be his buddy again. “Come on! Come on! You’re almost there! You can do it!”

“To this day,” said Steve, “I don’t know if I won those races because of any great talent or ability I had for running, or because of a good friend who had the talent of cheering!”

I’m convinced that the greatest talent is that of encouraging and appreciating others. Who would be in the audience if only the singers and actors and performers counted? And when it comes to our friends, it’s sometimes almost easier to be supportive when they struggle than when they succeed. Again, it takes a special kind of love and talent to cheer for and encourage, and be sincerely happy when others succeed.

A Friend Like Charlotte

A relative, Jennifer,  recently posted on Facebook how much she was enjoying reading the book Charlotte’s Web to her children. “They are enchanted,” she said. “I love love love this book!”

You probably remember the story.  In order to save her best friend Wilbur from the chopping block, a lovable spider named Charlotte calls a special committee to come up with words that describe Wilbur. Then she weaves these adjectives and declarations such as “Some Pig!” and “Terrific!” and “Radiant” into her web to convince the farmer, a Mr. Zuckerman, that Wilbur is worth far more alive than in the form of bacon on the breakfast table.

Wilbur is uncomfortable at first, saying he’s more of just an average pig and that he’s not really terrific at all, but Charlotte assures him that he’s terrific to her. Soon Wilbur starts believing that maybe he is terrific and even begins to feel radiant and in general that he’s some pig! Consequently others believe it too. In fact, he becomes quite famous—Zuckerman’s famous pig.  Yes, Charlotte’s plan works.

“Who wouldn’t want to have a friend like Charlotte?” I commented to Jen after she posted the Facebook status I mentioned above.

Jen responded,  “We should all be a friend like Charlotte.

True, of course!  I started thinking about all the people I know who are great friends like Charlotte. Then I started thinking about how Facebook and other social networks, can be like a big Charlotte’s web as they make it easy to declare our support to each other. Yes, I know it’s considered cool to bash Facebook, and the negatives are often pointed out, and maybe some of them are true. Facebook can eat up our time etc. But here are a few posts I saw to or about friends on Facebook in just in the last few days:

Happy anniversary, my love!

Love you! Have a great day!

Congrats!

Three cheers for you!

Wooo hoooo! Good job!

Awesome! What are you building next?

You are amazing!

Have a day as great as you are!

Righteous!

You are the best!

Aaaah! Love it!

You’re beautiful!

And a few more:

I couldn’t ask for a better husband!

I have the world’s best family!

I’m there for you.

We’re proud of this girl!

Always remember how fantastic you are!

You are worth it!

How did I luck out to have such a great wife?

Hang in there!

Not to get overly dramatic here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if supportive comments on Facebook haven’t actually saved a few nonfiction and very real lives. Seriously. There’s some amazing power in words.

Sooooo, to all you Charlottes out there, thank you. I know you lift spirits. You’ve lifted mine. And thanks, Jen, for the reminder to be a better and more selfless and supportive friend just like that lovable and very wise little spider. And thanks E.B. White, wherever you are, for creating such endearing characters and for writing such a lovely, thought-provoking classic.

Udderly Dutch Lunch

I just picked up a cute book today called Yoko about a girl from Japan whose mom packs her favorite lunch—raw fish tucked into rice.  Her classmates are quick to condemn. “Ick! It’s green! It’s seaweed!” But then her teacher has an international food day and Yoko finds a friend willing to try this food called sushi. This friend even hopes the two of them can open a restaurant someday! The story ends happily and all is well.

Things did not turn out quite as lovely for me when I brought an unusual lunch to school back in eighth grade and was then naive enough to tell those at my lunch table what I was eating.  Nobody wanted to open a restaurant with me. In fact, you could say my classmates were udderly amazed, and then they udderly could not let it go. I apologize for the puns, but I wanted you to get an idea of what I went through for the rest of that school year.

I can’t say udder sandwiches were something I commonly ate for lunch. We ate beef tongue quite a bit more. I remember my Dutch grandmother (Oma) would get out a huge pot (because cow tongues, as you can imagine, are rather large) bring the meat to a boil, and then simmer it for several hours. I don’t remember thinking, Ewww, tongue!  But then I didn’t say Ewww brains!  either when we had that delicacy.  It’s all in what you’re used to.

I’m wondering now where my mom and grandmother even found beef tongue or beef udder or brains here in America, or . . . calf kidneys. I almost forgot about them. I’ve never noticed any of those meats in the Smith’s or Dan’s meat departments. But then, I’ve never asked. Maybe I should. Maybe I should do some investigating, pick up one of these meats  and surprise my family when they come for our next Sunday dinner.

I have run across  liverwurst here, a lunch meat staple at our house when I was growing up.  That, along with just plain liver (thinly sliced), were very common sandwich meats for us. When it’s not boiled to the point that it tastes like leather, liver’s not bad. I give it a six. But liverwurst is at least an eight or nine. I still pick that up once in a while. It’s gooood. Pickled herring, another staple (also known as roll mop) I give a ten! And yes, it’s raw.

I talked to my mother just tonight to help me remember what we would put on our bread besides unusual meats from unusual animals or parts of animals. She said that the Dutch put just about anything edible on their bread. The bread is not slathered with mayo, but buttter. Here are some things we remember:

sliced fruits such as apples, pears, bananas, and strawberries

raisins

radishes

cheeses such as gouda, jonge vette, belegen, komijme (some of which could curl your toes)

thick kind of apple syrup (appel stroop)

regular thick syrups (stroop)

chocolate sprinkles (hagel slag)

candy sprinkles (muisjes)

windmill cookies (Yup, we put cookies on our bread and butter)

just plain sugar

These and other Dutch “sandwiches” were open-faced, but when she packed my lunch my mother would cover my sandwich with an extra slice of bread. In other words, if I hadn’t told my classmates what I was eating that day in eighth grade they never would have known. How naive I was.

Maybe it was my painful experience that school year that caused me to abandon the Dutch sandwich fare for more typical American lunches. I continued eating these “normal” lunches throughout high school and college and later ended up raising my children on plain old (bland) cheese sandwiches, or peanut butter or tuna or baloney sandwiches just like every other American mom. On special days we’d pick up hamburgers. Considering all the animal parts found in hamburger and baloney, I’m just realizing it’s highly possible we’ve been having beef tongue and udder and brains and kidneys on our sandwiches without realizing it. In fact, I could have pointed that out to those school lunch table “friends” in junior high that their baloney probably contained udder and worse.  It would have made a great comeback. Wish I’d thought of it.

As you know, sushi has become very popular since the children’s book Yoko (that I referred to at the beginning of this post) came out in 1998. Udder sandwiches, not so much.




My son found some chickens . . .

in his dorm room. It was his Freshman year and he roomed with a guy we’ll call Max, who, as the student floor manager, had the unpopular responsibility of making sure the other guys on their floor lived the dorm rules. Apparently, some of these students thought Max took his position too seriously, and one afternoon my son opened the door to find the room transformed into a mini farm. The beds and furniture, pillows, even his radio, had disappeared under mounds of hay. The three chickens strutted around contentedly.

Once he got over the initial shock, my son decided to relax and enjoy farm life. He just leaned back in the straw and read All Creatures Great and Small. Okay, not really. He did take pictures, call people to come see, and then waited until Max got home  before starting the cleaning up process. Let’s just say it’s not easy figuring out where to take chickens.

Pranks such as these are not uncommon on campuses.  You might enjoy watching a similar prank by going to “BYU Easter Prank.” At least these guys put down plastic first.

Extraordinary Chickens!

Now that’s a chicken!

When I was considering getting a pet chicken, (See my last post) I thought my choices consisted of the standard little red hen style chicken, the white chicken, or the black and white variety.  Those were the only chicken breeds I could think of right off.   But then, in looking for a picture for that post, I came across this  book which let me know that there are chickens and then there are chickens. Don’t you just love mother nature? The chicken on this cover is a rock star! This picture, along with the fact that a cousin let me know that you can go online and order chickens and their coops and all their gear, makes me wonder if I made the right decision.

On the other hand, there’s still that nasty poop issue. Maybe scientists will solve that problem someday.  Hey, they came up with a seedless watermelon, didn’t they?  There’s hope.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll get a copy of this chicken book, pick out my favorite chicken, and mark the page. My husband is welcome to help me pick out a chicken, but frankly, he has not shown a great interest in this project. This could possibly be because I have not mentioned it to him.

I’ll keep the book on my coffee table where I can look at my favorite chicken picture every day. When people visit I’ll show them this chicken I would choose if and when we ever got a chicken. Then friends are welcome to thumb through the book and be amazed at all the crazy chickens strutting  around out there.  I mean look at this guy! In fact, he looks familiar. He looks a lot like a guy I had a blind date with once.

Do you think there are chickens somewhere laughing at pictures of us?

The Chicken That Never Was

When a friend posted on Facebook that she had a pet chicken, it caught my interest. One chicken? I’d always thought chickens only came in the plural—by the dozen or at least half dozen—in other words, that you practically had to run a farm. Owning just one little chicken sounded feasible, even fun! I’ve always liked chickens in their cute little feathered outfits. I like the classic reddish ones best, but those black and white ones are really cute as well. When my friend went on to say that her hen, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, furnished their family with eggs, I began to get really excited. I’m into emergency preparedness and the idea of fresh eggs right in our back yard sounded ideal. I pictured my grandchildren in overalls and gingham shirts, happily gathering them. It would not only be fun and practical, but an educational experience for all of us. If at that moment, I’d had any clue where a person even goes to check out chickens, I might have jumped in my van and headed in that direction immediately. Like most city dwellers, however, I knew where to get every conceivable kind of take out chicken and even where to find packaged raw chicken—in other words, pretty much dead chicken, but I had no idea where to go look at chickens that are still alive and clucking. I decided to ask my more experienced friend. And since things almost always end up being a little more complicated than you anticipate, I decided it might be smart as well to jot down a few additional questions regarding the care and feeding of a chicken. Well, here’s what I found out:

1. As smart as a chicken is about pecking around for grub (or grubs), something its ancestors have done for years, it apparently also needs what’s known as chicken feed to sustain it and keep it healthy. Recognizing that there aren’t take out places on every corner for chickens, I realized I’d probably need to drive to a feed store which I imagined would be located near farms where the majority of chickens hang out. At the price of gas these days, my husband, I knew, would be quick to point out that having to drive this distance would counteract the savings we’d get from free eggs. (He majored in economics) And he’d probably be right. I realized I was looking at my first hurdle. But then I smiled. No, it’d be okay. A genuine farm feed store would have a forklift. I could just buy the biggest possible bag of chicken feed and hope it would last our little chicken for much of its little chicken life. I’m not sure how I planned to get such an enormous bag out of the van once I got home, but, well, some things you work out as you go.

2. Even one little chicken apparently needs a roof over her head. My friend told me that her husband built a chicken house for their chicken right in the front yard. Now this was cause to pause. The last time I’d used a hammer, I’d learned the importance of the thumb and its relationship to the entire body and emotional state of being. My husband doesn’t mind doing repair work, but I estimated the chances he’d jump for joy at the suggestion he build a house for a chicken were in the zero to nil range. Further, it wouldn’t work to have this little coop in the front and even if we built it in the back, we’d then need to close up all the gaps in our cedar fence, because unlike my friend, we do not live in the southern US in a remote area where chickens can roam free. We live in a place where we need to look three ways in order to even back out of the driveway. I wondered how hard it would be to adapt a ready-made dog house to a chicken’s needs. I then remembered that I’d once learned how to sew. Would a little chicken tee pee do? But then my friend told me more. The chicken house would need an extremely secure door that closed tightly. Her husband had added a sliding door to their chicken’s coop which they never forgot to close at night because . . .

3. Chickens have predators. She mentioned raccoons and snakes. I’d heard that raccoons are not the cuddly little animals you read about in books such as The Kissing Hand. They can apparently grow to be enormous creatures that wash their not so cute Edward Scissor type hands after they’ve killed smaller animals just for sport. And snakes? I have refused to go back to the canyons since one crossed my path there. My friend told me more.

4. The little door to the chicken house would need to be opened each morning at DAWN because a chicken gets restless if it is not out at about the crack of it. Now this was even more cause for pause because unlike the The Little Red Hen who could run an entire farm and baking operation single-handedly, I seriously doubted that a real chicken could be trained to open its own little door. No, I had the feeling I knew who would be getting up to open the chicken’s door every morning at dawn—the door to the coop which I didn’t know how I was going to come up with in the first place.

5. According to my friend, in order for a chicken to produce a decent number of eggs, it needs to take some kind of an additive. Additive? What did that mean? I pictured little chicken pills of some sort. My husband and I had enough trouble remembering to take our own medications, let alone remind a chicken. And what if this chicken didn’t want to take her pills? Would I be required to pry open her sharp little beak and shove the pills in? That could prove to be unpleasant. But my friend was not finished.

6. She concluded with the following and I will quote her directly: “Chickens are great if you don’t mind the large poops.” Why it had not occurred to me that there was more that came out of a chicken’s backside than just eggs, I’m not sure. This P word has generally been a deal breaker in my life. It’s why as a teenager, I refused to babysit children under the age of six. It’s why I didn’t marry the rancher, and it was why for a short period of time I considered not having children. I remembered then that chicken poop I’d seen caked on chicken coops is particularly nasty-looking stuff which is maybe why people have another name for it that they use as a swear word. I pictured my husband and I stepping in it when we went out back to enjoy our yard. I pictured my grandchildren stepping in it when they went out to play or gather eggs. I pictured myself muttering the chicken poop “sh” swear word under my breath as the chicken stuff was tracked through my house. No, this last tidbit of information pretty much squelched what little desire I still had left in me to take care of or own a pet chicken. I did not need a chicken after all.

So, here’s what I’ve decided. In order to get the chicken experience, I will just take my grandchildren to Wheeler Farm, our local historical in the city farm, much more often. In between farm visits, we can get out my little red hen puppet which I just stuff into a basket and which doesn’t need a chicken coop, (but which from now on I’ll keep separated from my racoon and snake puppets) and which also does not eat and so does not eliminate what it eats. As far as eggs, I can buy a few more of those big cans of that bright yellow powdered dried egg stuff for emergency situations. I have, however,  just had an interesting additional question come to me this very second. I wonder if you can get fertilized chicken eggs somewhere, freeze them, and then just grow a chicken when you absolutely need one. It’s worth checking into. In the meantime, since I’ve managed to survive all these years without a pet chicken, I think I’ll be just fine. Anyway, it looks like we might already have a pet. A cat showed up on our back porch a few weeks ago and refuses to leave. (See my last month’s post, “3 Conversations Concerning a Cat”) Judging by the feathers I see around every once in a while and the low guttural sounds she makes when she sees a bird of any sort, I very much doubt our cat would make a good playmate for a chicken.

I never did present my chicken idea to my husband, thank goodness, so I don’t have to deal with his intense disappointment. (And that is what is known as sarcasm) No, I can see this is all for the best. Things seem to work out in the end.

We All Have Our Pet Phobias

In switching channels yesterday I got caught up in one of those reality shows about people’s weird fears. I’ve had my share of phobias such as fear of heights; fear of traveling through canyon areas because of my fear of heights; fear of flying because of my fear of heights; and fear of amusement park rides because of my fear of heights—so I don’t feel I can pass judgment. But it’s interesting how we limit ourselves because of our phobias. In the episode I saw, a woman was afraid to leave her bedroom. She would not even go to other parts of her house and kept her food in a little refrigerator in her room. It was a very good thing she had a boyfriend who could bring her this food. A fridge in her room, however, ended up being another problem. She overate and gained a lot of weight. I can totally see how that could happen. Just passing by a refrigerator makes me gain weight, so I hate to think what would happen if I shared the same small room with one twenty-four/seven.

A pschologist finally helped this woman overcome her fear by encouraging her to take a few small steps at a time—first a few steps out her bedroom door; next a few more steps to her kitchen; and after a while, a few steps out the front door and down the steps etc. Each set of steps threw her into a panic attack, but to her credit, she continued, until she learned to control her fear. By the end of the program, she was riding in a car to places she hadn’t seen for years.

The episode reminded me that by taking little steps I can overcome my own challenges. I know someone who overcame the fear of speaking in public that way—first by just saying a few things to a small group; then by making a comment or two in a classroom setting; and finally by getting up in front of the class and making a presentation. I’m guessing quite a few of us have suffered from the number one fear, Glossophobia. (See my blog post, Problems at the Podium) I certainly have. Experience helps. When I was making several presentations a month I found it became easier to speak before others.

As far as my fear of heights problem, I will probably never enjoy driving along those high canyon drop offs, but if I want to get to my daughter’s house, I know I have no choice. Right now I’m working on keeping my eyes open while we drive along them. When I fly, I still pray very hard and recite scriptures to calm myself. It’s gotten to the point that I only hold my breath now on take off and landing and am able to breath somewhat normally in between.

I would like to announce, however, that even with the help of an excellent psychologist, I will never get on that disturbing looking ride called Colossus at our nearby amusement park. And if anyone were to so much as even suggest I sky dive, I would get myself a little refrigerator, go to my bedroom, and stay there for a very long time.

Here are the top ten phobias.

1. Fear of public speaking (Glossophobia)

2. Fear of death (Necrophobia)

3. Fear of spiders (Arachrophobia)

4. Fear of darkness (Achluophobia)

5. Fear of heights (Acrophobia)

6. Fear of people and or social situations (Sociophobia)

7. Fear of flying (Aerophobia)

8. Fear of open spaces (Agoraphobia)

9. Fear of thunder and lightning (Brontophobia)

10. Fear of confined spaces (Claustrophobia)

The woman who hid in her room and others who don’t want to leave their homes to the point of having panic attacks about it, suffer from Agoraphobia. Many of our fears interconnect. Fear of flying, for instance, or Aerophobia, can be caused by Claustrophobia. In my case, it is caused by Acrophobia. Many adolescents suffer from Sociophobia, and I think it is safe to say that many children suffer from some degree of Achluophobia.

Scary as it sounds, I think I’ve at one time or another struggled with eight of these phobias.  Which ones have been a problem for you?

Amazing Jones

Here’s a great story for the month of Father’s Day. Our friend, Mark Weiler, shared it in one of our church meetings quite a while ago, but I’ve never forgotten it. I understand Vaughn Featherstone gave the original version at a temple dedication. I’ve tried to find that one, but haven’t been able to.  Mark was kind enough to send me his version of the story.

John Jones was a poor farmer in Idaho.  He felt badly that his life was dull.  He blamed his unremarkable life, at least partly, on his ordinary name.  When John had a son, he wanted something better for his boy.  He thought an unusual name would inspire greatness.  He named his son Amazing Jones.

Amazing grew to hate his name.  He was teased by his friends.  He was teased by his teachers.  He grew to believe that he could never live up to his name.  He decided to pursue an ordinary life and live with the embarrassment of his name.  After his father’s death, Amazing inherited the family farm and worked it the remainder of his life.

Amazing married a young woman from his hometown.  Together, they lived a quiet, humble life in rural Idaho.  They had eight children, all of whom helped on the farm.  Those eight children each married and had large families of their own.  All of the children and grandchildren lived simple and honorable lives.  They loved and respected their father and grandfather.  They gathered together frequently to help on the farm.

Despite his supportive family, Amazing remained embarrassed by his name.  He felt like a failure.  As he neared the end of his life, he told his children that he wanted his name to be forgotten.  He hoped it would never be spoken again.  He did not want it listed on the headstone of his grave.  After his death, his family obeyed Amazing’s request.  However, they did want to honor him.  His headstone was engraved to read: “Here lies Mr. A. Jones.  He was a loving husband who was happily married for fifty-five years.  He is adored by his legacy of eight children and fifty grandchildren.”

Now, people who visit that cemetery in Idaho, pause, read this headstone, reflect on this family and say to themselves:  “Wow!  This man was amazing”.

The Lemon Cake Incident

My daughter called me  the other day to tell me what she and her husband had had for dessert at a “posh” restaurant they’d been invited to. “The pastry part was lemon and listen to this, there was chocolate drizzled over it,” she said. “It was really really good. I think maybe that’s the new trend—lemon with chocolate.” She said the  lemon with chocolate part slowly and with emphasis. She was also laughing a little.

“Well there you go,” I responded. “I’ve always been ahead of the trends.” I knew exactly why my daughter had brought up the dessert she’d had. My daughter was alluding to our family’s lemon cake story. My children just loooove to bring it up. Kids seem to really enjoy seeing their parents in embarrassing situations or at least hearing about these situations. I’d like to think they also bring this story up because I’m such a great sport. Well here’s the story my daughter was referring to. The names have been changed.

My husband and I had been wanting to have some particular neighbors over for dinner for quite a while. Their kids were about the same age as ours and we enjoyed the Smithsons. Even though hostessing is hard for me and cooking does not come naturally, I decided I could handle it if I kept the meal simple.  Well, the main course must have turned out fine, because I don’t remember what we had. That’s always a good sign for me.  What I do remember very clearly was what we served for dessert.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve liked the flavors of lemon and chocolate together ever since I was small. My family members had never complained about this combination, and so, assuming that everybody else liked it too, I served a lemon cake with chocolate frosting. I’d just sliced the cake at the counter and my oldest daughter and my husband were serving it to our guests when our friend, Dan, said happily, “Mmmm, yellow cake with chocolate frosting—my favorite!” I smiled and was about to let him know that this was actually lemon cake, when he added, “Jaycee,” (referring to his daughter who was probably about eleven or twelve at the time), “made a cake the other day and I was all excited thinking it was yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Come to find out it was lemon cake, if you can imagine. Lemon cake with chocolate frosting?” Dan rolled his eyes, and pulled his head back in disgust. “What was she thinking, huh?” My daughter who had just served Dan his cake, looked over at me with saucer eyes. I froze, my mouth open, as Dan smilingly scooped a nice big forkful of the cake and slipped it into his mouth.

There have only been a few times in my adult life when I’ve honestly had no idea what to say. This was one of them. I opened my mouth, hoping something would magically flow out of it, but nothing did. I wanted desperately to come up with something witty or funny to ease any tension. But my brain had turned to putty, and I just stood there frozen as Dan’s grin dissolved into horrified surprise.

“Sorry,” I think I may have finally managed to mutter. “Sorry that it’s lemon.”

Dan, for the first time since we’d met him, seemed to have lost his tongue as well. I’m sure if there had been a “disappear” button handy, he would have lunged for it. Instead, he sat there quietly, blinking profusely.

It was his wife, Liz, who finally spoke. “Well, it’s certainly a very mild lemon,” she said helpfully.

I don’t remember what happened after that. I imagine Dan managed to eat the cake. I imagine someone changed the subject and we just all tried to pretend what had happened really hadn’t.

We saw Dan and Liz that following Sunday at church and politely exchanged greetings. They thanked us again for the meal, I think. I really don’t remember what we said. Liz and I continued taking turns carpooling our girls to dance, and our children still played together, and we all still saw each other at all the church events and talked to each other in between. I always wanted to think of a way to bring up what had happened, hoping we could laugh about the incident and hoping I could somehow let the Smithsons know that I thought it was funny and that my husband and children thought it was more than funny, but I never did figure out how to say it.

I’m guessing, like us, the Smithsons remember the incident. It was after all, probably even more embarrassing for Dan than it was for me. And who knows? Maybe the Smithson kids enjoy teasing their parents as much as ours do. Maybe it’s a family joke at their house as well. I may never find out. A year or two after they had dinner with us, the Smithsons moved away, and we lost contact with each other.

I continued serving lemon cake with chocolate frosting after that but just to my family. I never had the nerve to serve it to guests again. So I was glad that my daughter called to tell me (gleefully) about this lemon and chocolate dessert she’d had. Maybe now that I know these flavors are being combined in posh restaurants, I will have the courage to serve the combination to company again.  Then again, maybe I won’t.  Dan’s stunned face after he took that bite is still deeply engraved in my brain and maybe always will be. I’m still hoping someday to see Dan and Liz and finally laugh about the incident together. But maybe that will need to be in the next world. Maybe by then I will have thought of something clever to say.