As I’ve worked insanely to finish up the last of my Christmas orders, I’ve had a lot of company:
–One boy with broken bones in his hand who, no, cannot go play football. No, no, no, for the twelfth time, I said no, not even if you are all-time QB. You will not wear me down, boy, so just quit. And if one cannot play football, what else is left to do? Nothing. Nothing at all but to stay home and torture your mother.
–Another boy is sick. Ah, lovely, quiet sickness: a busy mother’s best friend.
–The other boy? The large one? The large one who tends to micromanage his younger brothers when he has too much spare time on his hands, no current girlfriend, and no car at his disposal? Oy, That One, blogosphere, That One.
And so I put That One to work.
Every Christmas I remember that I intended to do something for my wonderful neighbors only when they start arriving at my door with festively wrapped baked goods in hand. It’s then, usually a day or two before Christmas, that I begin a mad dash to reciprocate, that I begin a frenzied orgy of baking so not to seem as if I’ve completely forgotten to be thoughtful. But this year I put That One to work by handing over the reigns of the baking orgy in advance of my neighbor’s arrival. In advance! This year the Steins will win! We will be the valedictorians of Christmas thoughtfulness!
I’ve mentioned before that That One can cook. Oh boy, oh man, can That One cook. Like most little ones, Jake always wanted to help me in the kitchen, but as he grew older and continued to be interested in cooking, a bit of a tug of war occurred between Mike and me: if Jake was encouraged to cook, he might turn gay. The best place to catch The Gay is in the kitchen, right? Someday, perhaps after learning how to make stock or roast the perfect chicken, it might occur to Jake that vaginas no longer held his interest, and life was all going to be about penises from now on. To be fair to Mike, he’s entirely accepting of homosexuality. But, acceptance of homosexuality and the irrational paternal fear of turning your son gay by teaching him to roast chicken are two different things, and Mike was concerned when I gave Jake a copy of Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything for his fourteenth birthday. It didn’t help that the author is gay, probably made so by roasting chickens.
My arguments at the time? Every young man should leave home able to make a few good meals. Chopping celery does not give one The Gay. The Gay doesn’t come from the kitchen, and I wouldn’t care if it did. Baking ability is not intrinsically tied to homosexuality, but it is tied to sex appeal: chicks dig guys who can cook. But mostly, I don’t care what sexual orientation any of my kids are, but I do care about encouraging their interests. Especially if that means that someone else will someday do the Christmas baking.
And so, here’s the yield of Jake’s orgy of baking, so far. Clockwise from the top: Triple Chocolate cookies, Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pecans, Ghirardelli-dipped pretzels, Chocolate Chip cookies, Butterscotch Haystacks, Peanut Butter and Peanut Butter M&M cookies.
Today, Jake will make Jack Daniel’s fudge (everyone knows adding hard liquor to any recipe neutralizes The Gay), and then he will gather together the recipes he’ll be taking north with him, tomorrow. Mike has requested that Jake make him all of his favorites when he comes for his holiday visit.