The Hiccup - revision # 5
writer's note: The title change from "The Apple Rum Raisin Hiccup Pie" now makes the story a metaphor. The ending is tweaked because some readers were confused - "white" is now "black". Note the penultimate line to "get" the over-arching metaphor. Tell me if you like the changes - you may post anonymously. Thanks!
What’s wrong with me? Compliments on my cooking usually pleased me, except today I grew more annoyed with each compliment, almost sniping, “Blah!” I felt the urge to slap the speaker. It got worse until I—horrified at myself-- fled, pleading a sinus headache.
Mom would’ve laughed, figuring I was going through The Change. But Mom was gone and I had no one to talk to. I did nothing maudlin like going to Mom’s grave and talking to the dirt, nor did I call or email my angst to any friends, because they wouldn’t have a clue as to what was going on with me. My compulsion to break the compliment ritual simmered. I had to do something dramatic with cooking, to- to- to win a pie contest!
The compulsion to win a pie contest grew by the minute. Still, I stewed privately, because anyone I confided in would try to produce a cure through pedicure appointments, or drag me on unwanted shopping trips.
Monday morning, daughters back in dorms and husband in his man cave grading papers that provide his cocoon against the world, I started experimenting. I first used frozen pie crusts, laboriously transferring them from their aluminum pans to my own ten-year old unused pottery pie baking dish. I hit myself on the forehead when I realized the pie contest required my own crust. Aargh!
Grandma made great pie crusts. I dug out Grandma’s old rolling pin, surely a good luck omen.
Lard or Crisco?” I opted for the natural, and dug again, resuscitating a 1908 cookbook to get the right proportions of flour, salt, water, fat. The measures pleased me; I related to “a pinch,” “a dash,” and “just enough to make it hold together” directions. My fingers seemed to channel Grandma, as I worked the dough.
Crust battle won, I went to my sunroom to think up a filling.
What kind of filling would please my pie-challenged palate? I closed my eyes and willed myself into an alpha state to see what might reveal itself, then put the recliner into three quarter back position, feet up. A wandering sunbeam jolted me awake, and a pie recipe dream flashed. An apple-raisin pie.
First, I had to refine the ingredients.
apples and pre-cooked the filling, recording measures of apples, sugar, salt, and butter, then added 1/3 cup of pre-soaked raisins. The mix looked good, but the taste wasn’t unique as I’d dreamed. Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Rum! I’ll add a shot of rum to the raisins! Fuji
Thanksgiving dinner produced the usual bland compliments. For dessert, I produced the expected home-cooked, store-bought pecan pie, alongside my Apple Rum Raisin Pie. I didn’t say it wasn’t store-bought; they assumed it.
“What’s this? Smells good.” My oldest daughter helped herself to a piece.
“May I try that appley-raisin pie, too?” Her dad grew adventurous.
“Wow! Put that one on the menu again. Was that was a Mrs. Smith’s pie or Marie Calendar’s?
“Mmmm. That rum gave me the hiccups. What a hoot.”
To the questions of pie origin, I replied nebulously, and turned away to hide a smirk. Inwardly, I chortled.
A week later, I drove to the pie contest location with Gas-X and Immodium handy for the anticipated nervous reaction that, thankfully, did not happen. Serene, I carried my things inside the exhibition hall, set up my station, and as I printed the name of my pie on a form, amended the name to “Apple Rum Raisin Hiccup Pie.” I smiled, tied on my chef’s apron, created my pie, watched and listened to the judges critiques, and heard the winners announced as if a routine day.
Contest over, I packed up and started home in a light but cold, sometimes freezing rain. I was re-living the contest, and didn’t see the approaching semi crowding my lane until the last microsecond. I jerked the wheel, slid, then over-corrected and the car swiveled and swayed toward a gully that eroded the blacktop roadside of the old farm-to-market road not designed to accommodate today’s big rigs. My car became airborne and my family’s faces flashed. I think I screamed.
The semi roared on, but a car behind witnessed the accident and speed-dialed help.
I awoke in a hospital intensive care bed, with tubes and rigging tending my body while my family and friends held vigil talking, reading aloud, and playing Bach-- willing my brain back to reality.
My first question, after “How long have I been out?” was, “Where’s my bag?”
It was stashed in a hospital locker, along with clothes the paramedics had cut off me. My throat hurt from the ventilator tube and I whispered for my husband to please bring the bag. It was a mess. I had grabbed the handle as I popped my seat belt and leaped from the car as it slid toward the gully and bounced into Willow Creek some fifty feet lower. My right hand somehow stayed clamped around the handle.
My husband began pulling out checkbook, wallet, Puffs-- the usual bag detritus. “Looks like its all here, honey.”
Inside. Pocket. Zipper. Look!”
“Easy now, don’t get upset.”
I heard the zipper, and then he held up a large envelope.
“Open it.” I coughed.
“Honey, please! Stay calm or they’ll chase me out of here.”
Chastened, I smiled and whispered, “Sorry. Please look.”
His face flashed from white-lipped frown, to eyebrows-up question, to a wide, smile and he whistled.
“Holy crap! A check for five thousand dollars is stapled to a piece of paper that says, Lawrencetown Annual Pie Contest First Place! It- it- the award says it’s for your original creation of Apple Rum Raisin Hiccup Pie.” He chuckled. “You never cease to amaze me.”
The last I remember was my husband saying, “You are one very special woman. Wait ‘til the girls see this.”
Then I heard him shout as a machine whistled. I felt warm and wonderful, then everything went black.