When I was still wearing feety pajamas and cooking in my easy-bake-oven, I was a Strawberry Shortcake addict. Not the biscuits with piles of fresh whipping cream and syrupy mess of mauled berries. The doll and all her friends. Of course, I, of all people, had to be the girl who played with the dolls that smelled like food. I wonder why this stopped, this whole idea of dolls smelling of food. Today they could get very advanced. Who wouldn’t want a Meatball Action Hero?
Strawberry Shortcake’s villain was the Peculiar Purple Pie man. Here’s what I’ve learned since then: anyone who bakes a pie cannot be evil. Back when I was dating, I met a boy in a café. We liked each other enough to exchange names and numbers. That night, he phoned, inviting me over to rent a movie. This meant make out. It was a middle school move. I suspect guys who do this–invite you over to not watch a movie on the first date–will always be guys. The kind of guys with futons, poker night, and a stash of pot, who try to impress you by taking you to their rooftop with a bottle of Merlot. They light purple candles and still listen to Cream. “I don’t even know you. I’m not coming to your apartment.”
To which he responded, “Look Steph, we’re Jews. Nothing bad ever happens when two Jews get together, okay?” I laughed. He was right, and his saying that immediately put me at ease. Still, talk about lazy. So Jews sent to sleep away camps and competitive schools can’t be evil, according to this brilliant theory of his, and as I said, no one who bakes a pie can be evil, not even Martha, despite what I’ve heard.
Which brings me to this: how do you say thank you for a pie? Yes, you graciously dip your head in sincere thanks and awe, but how do you repay your neighbor for bringing over a homemade apple cranberry pie. Now I know I can trust her with a key to my home. She cannot be evil. There is good in all things sugar and spice. I’m sure she even made both the top and bottom crusts from scratch. They’re too thick and flaky to be Pillsbury. She a surgeon, too, with three well-behaved adorable children, so she made time to bake.
She didn’t "just" bring over an entire pie (complete with hand-carved pastry leaves on top). Cookies came next. Halloween sugar cookies, kissed with candy corn tops. How do I show her how thankful I am? How does one respond? Eye for an eye? Do I bring her more baked goods? Walnut honey square bars? This isn’t the first time she’s baked, either. When we first moved in, she and her son baked us a batch of cookies. This city girl is overwhelmed in such a delightful way! I’ve got to gear up in my crafty gift-giving ways; Thanksgiving is nearly upon us! Pumpkin tarts? Or do I respond with something else? A vat of soup! I love love love soup. Pumpkin soup, served in mini hollowed-out gourds, with a swirl of fresh cream, and a dash of freshly-grated nutmeg or newly slivered young chives? Gift ideas for neighbors, co-workers, loved ones a la autumn, “just because” are welcome. I guess I can always invite her over to rent a movie. Ahem.