Monday, November 10, 2008
Unaware that several sets of eyes were anxiously awaiting her departure, Martha Jones grabbed her purse to head off to her day job. Finally the door closed and the house was empty, conducive to such a ceremony. Rolland sighed in relief and wiggled from his perch, clutching his lower back as he hobbled along. He wasn’t as spry as he had once been, but for a rolling pin that had seen two World Wars and delivered enough pastries to fill the Albert Hall, he couldn’t complain. He smiled and nodded as he passed his culinary cohorts that gathered for this sobering event. Forming a semi-circle, as close to the edge of the slippery counter as anyone dared, they joined hands. Rolland cleared his throat.
“Spatulas, measuring cups, ladles, and silver; we gather here today to mark the passing of a dear friend.”
A hush fell over those that stared at the near unrecognizable mass of plastic that lay in the bottom of the trash can. Choking back his emotions Rolland continued.
“Neither human nor utensil could have anticipated such an untimely demise. Spending only a few short years upon this counter, Patty the pancake-turner never met a stranger. Certainly she had a few dings and dents, but don’t we all. My only regret was that had she had been stainless perhaps we would not be here today, but such things remain beyond our control. Patty jumped at the opportunity to serve, but sadly she has flipped her last stack of flapjacks. Through selfless sacrifice she allows each of us standing in reverence today to serve another meal. It was fate that Mrs. Jones selected her to beat back the flames of an angry grease fire, but mind you it could have been any one of us. Although the charred flesh of her remains lies among the coffee grounds and eggshells of this morning’s breakfast, her spirit lives on. She now joins countless others in the great kitchen in the sky. As surely as I stand before you there will be another pancake-turner that tries to take her place. I implore you to resist such shallowness; her act of bravery should linger in our hearts and minds for years to come. Bless her perforated soul and serrated edges—and God speed.”
Rolland had performed far too many services during his lifetime. He considered himself extremely fortunate to have been passed down from generation to generation. Certainly there had been some downtime in moving from home to home, but the Jones family treated him well. Only once had he had been placed too close to the edge of counter and left unattended, but all in all the nasty spill produced no broken bones or concussions, merely a few migraines.
He took these few moments to reminisce. Rolland did not come from a distinguished linage as did the silver set from France, which to this day still spoke with an irritating accent. Perhaps he was oversensitive to such things. He too had taken his share of ribbing about his southern drawl. Rolland came from the heart of a hard maple in the hills of West Virginia. He possessed no grand pedigree, but nonetheless took great pride in his work. He was fortunate to have never fallen into the hands of an inexperienced cook. The many awards and ribbons lining the small country kitchen stood testament to his and Martha’s abilities. He was particularly proud of the 1973 Warsaw County Best of show. Poor Mrs. Hartwigger, Martha’s nemesis, never saw it coming. Blindly she believed her apple pie would ensure her ten year reign. Rolland smiled as he recalled receiving word that the light flakey crust had won the judges hearts. Just as Mrs. Hartwigger found, all things must come to an end.
In the big city cooking had become a cutthroat business, where many simple utensils had been replaced with machines. Rolland shuddered as he thought of such things. Perhaps someday he too would bow to progress, but for now he was content to live out his days in the solitude of the country, where folks still chose ‘biscuits made from scratch’ over the expediency of Bisquick.
Some days were lonely as Rolland had outlasted many of his closest friends. Cathy the three-legged colander had given up the ghost. For years she performed her duties flawlessly, only with a slight tilt. Those closest to her pretended not to notice her handicap. As long as Rolland could remember the divide between electrical devices and those of manual labor had been great. Stan, the electric skillet, had made an exception and crossed the line, a fine example of kitchen-aids he was. With his cooking surface and heating element still intact, he had fallen victim to a frayed controller cord.
Suddenly it came to him like a bolt of lightening. Rolland would use his wisdom gained through the years to bring unity to all of those who graced the kitchen. If those comprising the culinary arts expected to live on in this imperfect and ever-changing world, all aids must stand united!
In the background Rolland imagined a rally with the rhythmic thumping of Mike the meat tenderizer keeping time as the Thompson tea-kettle family whistled harmoniously the tune of God Bless America.