As I think about my childhood and all the stories I remember, I am sometimes amazed at the magnitude of the blunders I have made. I have pulled some doozies. In many ways it’s a good thing, though, because it provides fodder for stories that I can tell my kids; it also provides some fun writing material.
Well, a natural thought is to wonder to myself, “What happens when I run out of stories? Will I need to resort to fiction (for which I feel ill-equipped) or to poetry (for which I feel even more inadequate)? Survival can be achieved through a well crafted sonnet, but I don’t think all the limericks in the world about genies who are meanies in yellow bikinis can a career make.
Well, you’ll be glad to know — at least I was relieved, much to the delight of my kids and with perhaps a little angst from my wife — that I’m still capable of pulling off silly escapades, albeit unwittingly.
This Saturday past, a cool blustery day in the Piedmont of the Old North State, was a prime example. That particular day, as with most Saturday mornings, my four darling children anticipated our weekly feast of whole wheat buttermilk pancakes.
You see, pancakes are one of my three specialties in my life; the other two, of course, are homemade syrup (a must for the pancakes), and my propensity for blunders as mentioned earlier. Yes, there you have it. All modesty aside, I make great pancakes, I make awesome syrup, and of course I frequently find myself in the most comical of situations.
I will provide the pancake recipe someday. This story isn’t really about pancakes, per se. I do have stories about pancakes I could tell — like the time I made my first batch ever and forgot to put in the milk. They were thick pancakes, causing my mother and siblings to burst into hysterics and run out of the room before they died laughing. Only Dad remained to eat the whole wheat bricks with me.
Anyway, I also, as mentioned earlier, make syrup. Now, it’s not real maple syrup. My brother has made real maple syrup, and it took nearly all the maple trees on the east coast to produce a gallon of the wonderful stuff. No, my syrup consists of some boiling water, a bunch of sugar (white and brown), and a little maple flavoring. But this story isn’t really about the recipe.
I should point out, though, that my maple syrup is a rich amber hue that reminds me of the grassy plains of western Nebraska as I’m driving into the sunset.
Now, it is usually the case that I make a big batch of syrup that lasts several weeks, and I will store it in three or four jars in the refrigerator. Each Saturday as I begin pancake preparation, I check to see if I need more syrup, and if so then I make syrup while making the pancakes too. Indeed, I can multitask, at least with those two tasks.
So this past Saturday I did my usual do-we-have-syrup check, and I saw one jar was nearly empty, but way in the back of the refrigerator I saw another full jar with that familiar rich amber hue that reminds me of the grassy plains of western Nebraska as I’m driving into the sunset.
Bravo, I thought to myself. No syrup-making is needed today, thought I again to myself. With that, I focused merrily on making the delicious whole wheat buttermilk pancakes while humming the Third Movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. That, by the way, is the perfect tune by which to make pancakes. Well, that, or Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze. Either will suffice.
When the pancakes were nearly ready, I opened up both jars of the syrup with the rich amber hue that reminds me of the grassy plains of western Nebraska as I’m driving into the sunset. I poured the nearly empty jar into a large glass measuring cup, and then I poured enough of the second jar into the large glass measuring cup so that we had approximately one cup of syrup. I heated it in the microwave for two minutes.
I then called everyone down for breakfast. They ran down the stairs like water tumbling over Niagara Falls. There on the table was a plate full of golden brown whole wheat buttermilk pancakes and a steaming large measuring cup of syrup with a rich amber hue that reminds me of the grassy plains of western Nebraska as I’m driving into the sunset.
One son said, “What’s that smell?”
One daughter said, “It smells like cloves!”
Another son said, “It’s the syrup!”
And the other daughter said, “Dad, what did you put in this?”
“I put in the last of the syrup from one jar and then opened the one remaining jar,” I said, as I picked up the jar on the counter that held the remaining syrup with the rich amber hue that reminds me of the grassy plains of western Nebraska as I’m driving into the sunset.
And then I saw a hand-written label on the back side of the jar.
The label said, “Homemade Clove Mouthwash.”
I had heated up nearly one cup of clove mouthwash with a little bit of maple syrup!
My wife said, “Ew.”
Both my sons said, “Ew.”
One daughter said, “Ew.”
And one daughter said, “Hey I’ll try it.”
And so, after confirming that the ingredients were indeed edible, we tried it. It was rather interesting, but we actually consumed most of it. And our collective breaths smelled quite nice.
Just think of it — mouthwash while you eat.
And we coined a new phrase for the breakfast table. I seriously doubt the following words have ever been uttered while eating breakfast.
“Pass the mouthwash, please.”