“Aunty Sarah, where is it? Where is mine!?” Aunty Karen comes storming up to me, hand outstretched, ready to receive. I, unfortunately, am drawing a blank.
“My pancake that you made for me yesterday!”
Oops. Taking a page from Adam and Eve’s playbook, I quickly decide that the best method of dealing with my memory lapse is to cast blame somewhere else. Conveniently, there is a whole line of residents sitting outside enjoying the early morning air.
“They ate all the pancake!” I say, turning and pointing an accusing finger in the direction of the Village people. (They are already giggling and chuckling.) “They didn’t even save one for me! They ate all!”
Aunty Karen turns and glares. By now, the whole crew is cracking up. Sasha is laughing so hard her wheelchair is bouncing. Claude has a huge grin on his face. Nikki is twisting in her chair. Keisha’s and Kemar’s dimples are so deep you could easily hide a couple pancakes in them. Vinroy, whose hands turn back on their own wrists, somehow manages to pull his t-shirt up over his head in mock fear.
“I see you, Vinroy! You can’t hide from me!” shouts Aunty Karen.
Our first Wednesday morning Cooking Class in The Village had been inaugurated the day before by that classic breakfast food – you guessed it, the pancake!
Iryna and I had donned our tiaras (we were the Pancake Queen and the Pancake Princess).
The residents had gathered in the boys’ dorm.
It was time to unveil . . . the hotplate! (Another fabulous gift from Aunty Sharon and the Georgia Regent University OT team.)
Unplugged, cool to the touch, a simple black cuboid (yes, I have Google and I know how to use it) of plastic and metal. The residents looked as if they’d died and gone to heaven.
Each one had the chance to hold the hotplate and to heft its weight, sometimes with fingers that struggled to grip and arms that strained not to drop. They felt the ridges in the surface with the tips of their fingers. David even got to turn the knob from off to low to medium to high and back down to medium.
Next, a preview of coming attractions. Had anyone ever tasted pancake syrup before? No? Well, get ready!
There was a bit of a misfire when Iryna reached Claude and I had to make a quick run for a damp rag. But all was well until we got to Sasha, who, with the memory of Claude’s catastrophe fresh in her mind (and perhaps, sensing her own impending doom), could not control her giggles. Which made David start laughing. Then Vivienne. Then Nyron. Then me. Then Vinroy. Then Iryna. And so on down the line, which made Sasha laugh even harder.
“All right! All right!” said Claude. Unfortunately, even his gently waving hands were unable to check our hilarity. We gave up and skipped Sasha in order to get through the syrup portion of the morning.
Everyone took turns measuring pancake mix and stirring to blend it with the water.
Nyron volunteered to be the first to make a pancake and Iryna pushed him up so I could show him what to do.
“First, you have to put on butter so it won’t stick to the pan. You want it to get hot – can you hear it sizzling? Then you’ll pour in some of the mix. Great! Now we’re going to watch for bubbles. When a lot of bubbles have popped, then you know it’s time to turn it over.”
Next up, Vinroy.
Butter in the pan.
“Sizzling time! Sizzling time!” called out Claude, who had already claimed last place in the pancake line and was having the time of his life watching all his friends.
“Look, Vinroy! The bubbles are coming!”
“Bubbling time! Bubbling time!” said Claude.
David. Theresa. Vivienne. They all came, poured, and conquered – with HUGE smiles on their faces.
Ziggy: Came, poured, and conquered with her usual “all-in-a-day’s-work-no-biggy” attitude.
Bruce – one of those people who always serves in the background without ever expecting anything for himself. He put the butter in the pan and turned to go back to his seat.
“No, Bruce! Stay! You get to do more.”
He poured the batter in the pan and turned to go back to his seat.
“Not yet, Bruce! You get to flip the pancake, too.”
He waited for “bubbling time” to be done and flipped the pancake before once again turning.
“Stay, Bruce, you get to take it out of the pan and put it on the plate!”
It soon became apparent why Claude had elected to go last. We rolled him up to the table, handed him the pitcher of batter, and watched as he poured a monster of a pancake.
In response to our good-natured ragging he just grinned and waved his hands at us.
A beautiful stack of golden brown pancakes awaited us. Each resident squeezed out his or her own syrup onto the very pancake he or she had cooked. Iryna and Jordan sliced bananas over the top and everyone dug in.
“Mmmmm! Good!” grunted Jason.
“Aaaauunnttyyy,” said a triumphant Nyron, “weeee caaaaan coooook!”
* * *
“I put in the butter. I pour on the batter. And I take my time! I take my time. I don’t get in a rush. I don’t get in a rush. I take my time. And that is how you have a perfect pancake. You can’t get in a rush.” Several hours later and Claude is reliving every perfect moment of pancake morning.
Nyron looks up. “Eeeevveeeeen thooouuugghhh weee’rrre iiiiin wheeeeelllllchaaaiiirsss weeee caaaan coooook!” He pauses and looks off into the distance, contemplating. When he turns back to face us, his whole face is alight. “Weeee caaaan dooooo eeevvveerrryythiiiing!”
I’m too happy to cry.