I can always tell who my wife is talking to on the phone.
If it is family, she is relaxed. If it is business, she is formal and if it is a telemarketer, she is brutally abrupt.
This one was a bit of a mystery.
She was warm though formal yet a bit abrupt. When she finished, she put down the phone and stared across the kitchen at me.
“What did I do now?” I asked.
“Not the right question,” she said, “try again.”
I sighed. “What am I supposed to do now?”
“Good guess..” she said, opening the pantry door.
“You are going to bake brownies for the Saint Isadore’s bake sale,” she said as she rummaged around the lower shelves.
“Because you are retired and I am not.” she said.
“So being retired means you have to do all the things you never had time to do before.”
“Like bake brownies?”
“Like bake brownies.”
“I suppose I could whip up a batch.”
My wife has this evil smile. It is one she wears whenever I am tottering on the brink of doom. She was wearing it now.
“How many pans do I have to bake?”
The answer came out of the pantry as boxes of brownie mix and landed on the counter. Plop, Plop, plop.
“Three” she said.
“And…” she instructed, “you will cut each batch into squares then you will count out four squares and put them on individual paper plates. Each plate will then go into a baggie and you will label each bag with the price and a date.”
“Sounds like a lot of work,” I said, “how about just giving them a donation?”
“You can do that – but you still have to bake the brownies.”
Oh dear merciful Lord in heaven, why, oh why do we still have bake sales?
Bake sales stem from an era when women spent most of the day cooking. It is what they did and took pride in. To cook a little extra was not a big deal, so bake sales made sense – but now days almost everyone works, except for the poor guys who are retired and it is beyond cruel to force them to bake brownies.
I understand the idea of giving. I understand the importance of keeping traditions alive – but I also understand what it means to bite down on a brownie made by a resentful old man.
But I delivered and she was impressed – for a while.
Then a few days later when she was balancing the checkbook, she asked, “What is this $30 check to Oak Grove Lutheran for? I don’t remember doing anything involving them.”
“Uh,” I told her, “it’s where I bought the brownies for our bake sale.”
“You are kidding me,” she said.
“No, I am not,” I told her, “and don’t complain – they all sold. Some guy from First Methodist bought the whole lot. I think they are having a bake sale this weekend.”