This is a blog from 2005. Last week I broke my parentâ€™s storm door with my posterior. This week I made peanut butter cookies with twice as much butter as the recipe called for. Iâ€™m not sure these two events are entirely unrelated. But, letâ€™s start at the beginning.
The other evening I was leaving my parents house with an armload of food and whatnotsâ€¦as I left I tried to gently press my backside against the storm door to close it behind me since my hands were not quite free, and the next thing I knew glass was cracking like an icy pond under a heavy skater and my butt was through the door.
Itâ€™s miraculous that I did not retain the slightest injury in this instance, except to my pride. My rear end has never exactly been proportionate to the rest of me, even as an anorexic teenager, and 10 years after high school and 2 bouncing baby boys I definitely have what can be classified as a â€œghetto booty.â€ But there was not a scratch upon it, even as the window glass stood in triangular daggers within the flimsy metal frame and in pointed chunks on the porch.
For some reason these events laid heavy on my mind as I stared at the soggy brown pancakes masquerading as peanut butter cookies on my shiny aluminum baking sheet. My mind rewound to the moment when I took 2 sticks of butter out of the fridge to soften, which is half a POUND of butter, not the half a cup the recipe calls for. No wonder the mixture was the consistency of peanut butter flavored Crisco instead of play dough. No wonder the dough refused to set up, even when I stuck in in freezer. No wonder so many spoonfuls wound up in my mouth instead of on the sheet where they belonged. No wonder my butt went through my parentâ€™s door
I had the privilege of discussing the writing process with my friend Chris today, and I told him my theory. Good writers are the people that stupid stuff happens to on a regular basis. Normal, sensible, thoughtful people rarely become writers because what would they write about? The fact that they balanced their checkbook? Or how they picked someone up at the airport on time?
Maybe stupid stuff happens to everyone, but only writers are willing to put it down on paper and possibly become an object of public ridicule. I still think I have more than my fair share of Lucille Ball moments. Like the time I was twirling my umbrella with pleasure, trying to imitate Gene Kelly, and it became entangled in my hair. Or the time I turned on the hot water and chose to fall out of the shower rather than be slowly boiled to death, sustaining an enormous bruise on my thigh that my roommate took pictures of and later sent to her boyfriend. Or the countless, countless times I have left my house thinking I was hot stuff and immediately tripped over my high heels.
Just this morning I was bustling around trying to get things together for a picnic. My 2 year old son wanted one of my peanut butter discs (I cannot call them cookies) and I handed him one, hoping it would distract him while I finished chopping tomatoes and icing cupcakes. Due to the consistency of the dough they make crumbs like mad and they were soon scattered all over my kitchen floor. I turned to clean it up and found that my 7 month old was already doing it for me. Distressed over him ingesting such a huge potential allergen as a combination of peanut butter, wheat, butter (lots of it!) and eggs I leaned down to remove him from the temptation when I felt a ticklish feeling on my neck. I glanced down my shirt to behold a brown jumping spider nestled in my cleavage.
I let out a banshee shriek, pulled off my shirt and threw it in the trash can and ran screaming to the bathroom, begging for my husbandâ€™s help. It didnâ€™t occur to me that a) He was in the shower and couldnâ€™t hear me and b) what the heck was he supposed to do that I couldnâ€™t do for myself? My baby was lying on the floor where I left him, crying over my blood-curdling scream and I stood shaking in the bathroom, trying to laugh as I told my husband about my foolish response at being molested by a spider. I apologized for disturbing him and went back to retrieve my shirt from the trash can and annihilate that sucker.
My two year old asked me what I was doing and I told him my arachnid philosophyâ€¦ â€œSpiders belong outside, not in my house.â€ Unfortunately, word has not spread to the general vermin popular as my home is infested by both spiders and some very cunning, bold mice, including one that just crawled out of my umbrella and dashed across the living room floor. These mice have no shame, and they laugh at my humane traps. But I digress.
After replacing my shirt, smashing the little bugger and going through a few extra heebie-jeebie spasms for good measure I resumed frosting cupcakes. Feeling generous, I invited my two year old to help with sprinkles. I placed a few non-nonpareils in the lid of the bottle and showed him how to dump them on the frosted cupcake tops, which he did with gusto. The phone rang, I turned to answer it when I heard a noise that sounded like a tiny avalanche. He had taken the entire bottle of candy garnish and dumped it all on one cupcake. As many tiny colored balls as possible clung to the frosting like a gooey life preserverâ€¦the rest taking refuge in the wells of the muffin tin, scattering across the surface of my yellow Formica table and a few rolling to their doom on my kitchen floor, ready to serve as a midnight snack for some brazen rodent, a lovely accompaniment to peanut butter butter crumbs.
It was my mother calling, and I related the events of the day to her with the slightest tone of hysteria. â€œAre you laughing or crying?â€ she asked. â€œI donâ€™t knowâ€¦â€ I responded. But I was laughing. I have learned to laugh at these situations, and of course, write about them. Sometimes inspiration just hits you like a butt through a storm door.