A simple (breakfast) plan

Saturday mornings I feed the boys breakfast. They all like bacon, and some of them like pancakes. Since there are no two foods they all like, this meal choice is the closest thing to a winner. A box of donuts has a greater chance of universal acceptance, but there are only about half of all Saturdays when I consider donuts a meal choice.

Bacon and pancakes are not difficult for a man to cook. They are a considerable challenge for a man and three overzealous helpers.

The electric griddle must be plugged in, and we’ve got a guy for that. Big Man, the self-appointed plugger inner and lighter upper of all things, will lodge a complaint with his union if anyone else attempts to push the cord into the griddle.

Bacon is first on the cooking surface, and everybody wants a part of that wonderment. Bacon is nothing less than a miracle. All the disciples need to be near it, nurturing it along its journey to delicious.  None recall how it spit grease at them last time – how could something so precious do a thing so uncouth? Daddy knows bacon’s dark side; the helpers are moved to pancake duty.

Forget the fireworks next July 4th. We're all going to enjoy the thrill of cracking eggs.

Forget the fireworks next July 4th. We’re all going to enjoy the thrill of cracking eggs.

Everybody wants to pour the pancake mix, but nobody knows when to stop pouring. I make them stand down and pour the mix myself, explaining I don’t want the whole box dumped out. It turns out the box is almost empty so I end up pouring it all into the bowl. “I could have done that,” Big Brother mocks. He’s right, so I quell my impulse to hit him over the head with the empty box.

The egg is the most coveted part of the entire pancaking process. I’m a remedial egg cracker. My wife bought me a special device to help me gain confidence. It was cheaper than a copy of Egg Cracking for Dummies. Everybody yearns to operate the egg cracker. It’s Big Brother’s turn. He cracks the egg flawlessly, but balks at the task of removing the slimy shell from the device.

My egg cracker for the specially challenged with Big Man's best Kilroy impression in the background.

My egg cracker for the Specially Challenged, with Big Man’s best Kilroy impression in the background.

Buster adds the milk as I hawk over him, shouting, “Stop, stop, stop!” after every few trickles, in constant fear he will let it all flow out into our bowl of pancake soup.

When Buster gets the proper amount of milk in the mix, or close enough, Big Man mounts his kitchen stool and stirs. I should be monitoring the bacon, but I’m busy keeping the bowl from sliding off the countertop.

Buster chides me for letting the bacon cook too long. I don’t believe it’s overcooked, but Buster is not completely confident in my ability to help him cook bacon.

We cook plain pancakes first. Then Big Man and I add blueberries. Big Brother doesn’t like blueberries. Buster only likes blueberries when they’re in a muffin I’ve been saving for myself.

Despite too many cooks in the kitchen, breakfast happened, but everybody lost their lust for helping when it came time to clean up.

The vast potential for growth in this job means he'll be able to see what he's mixing one day.

The vast potential for growth in this job means he’ll be able to see what he’s mixing one day.




Make a wish and blow out the candles on your bacon

My four-year-old son is not big on breakfast. We’ve struggled to find a food that inspires him to eat in the morning.

During the week, I’m gone before he gets up, but I was able to persuade him to eat a pancake some weekend mornings. When we could find bacon on sale, we might add that to the pancake breakfast. He developed quite a taste for the bacon.

Eventually, his palate tired of the pancakes, but he sensed that they were necessary baggage to his enjoyment of bacon. Unfortunately for him, we are most often without bacon. Sure, it tastes wonderful, but it’s pretty expensive for a food whose main purpose is to clog your heart with goo. Lacking bacon, our morning conversations go like this:

ME: “Would you like me to make you a pancake for breakfast?”

BOY: “If there’s bacon, I’ll have a pancake and bacon. Otherwise, I don’t want a pancake.”

ME: “How about a pancake and bacon, with no bacon?”

BOY: “No. I’ll just have a pancake with bacon.”

It’s rare that I can sell a pancake without bacon anymore.

The last time we had bacon, we were all sitting around the breakfast table, discussing his upcoming birthday.  “I think I want bacon for my birthday,” the boy declared. “I want bacon instead of cake.” His mother and I like bacon too; if he wants us to spend the cake money on bacon, that’s fine with us. We shrugged and said it was okay.

That must have seemed too easy, so he made sure we understood. “The bacon is instead of cake. It’s not my present.” Bacon is delicious, but it’s still only food. Food is not an appropriate birthday present for a boy who has seen the wonders housed within the magical walls of Toys R Us.

birthday bacon

I suggest that he wish for a significant price drop in the pork belly futures market.

Later, as we drove to get groceries, the boy piped up from the back seat with another bolt from the blue:

BOY: “Daddy, I think I’ll need a bow tie, if I’m gonna go anywhere fancy.”

ME: “Oh?”

BOY: “Yeah. Not one that you have to tie. Just one that you snap on.”

ME: “Where are you going that’s fancy?”

BOY: “I don’t know, but just in case I do.”

I hope he wasn’t envisioning his birthday party as a black tie affair, because bacon and ice cream don’t really wear well on a tux. Besides, if he wants to look like a junior Orville Redenbacher, he’s going to have to finance that fashion statement on his own.

At the end of our shopping trip, we passed through the bakery section of the store. The boy stopped and gazed through the glass at all the sweet treats. “Well, I think I do really want a cake instead of bacon for my birthday,” he said.

“How about a cake shaped like bacon?” his mother asked.

“No. I want it to look like an army vehicle.”

Oh well. Bacon was starting to sound good, but I like cake too.


Five years of trading bacon (and it’s only the beginning)

Five years ago today, my sweetheart and I became husband and wife. Five years may not seem like a long time when it comes to the longevity of marriages, but it’s only just the beginning for us.

My wife and I come from vastly different backgrounds. Neither of us imagined marrying someone like the other before we met. Even after we met, it took a while for this to change. It was easier for her to reel me in because she’s so darned cute. I still don’t know how I got her to fall for me. I’ve never come near that level of salesmanship in any other situation.

My wife is and extrovert with a capital E. I’m a steadfast introvert. She’s a spur-of-the-moment gal. I’m a planner. She jumps from one hair-brained scheme to another. I stick with the one hair-brained scheme I’ve had since I was 12. She prefers the fat part of the bacon. I didn’t know there existed people who preferred the fat part of the bacon.

Sure, we drive each other up the wall sometimes with our different outlooks. But mostly we give each other balance. I keep a foot on the ground and she extends a hand into the sky. Together, we make sure that no one will drift too far away from home and no one will miss a chance to touch the stars.

We also don’t waste any part of the bacon. I’m not big on the term soul mate, but if I were, I’d define it as someone you can always trade bits of bacon with.

I’m looking forward to the next five years, and beyond. I’m sure my wife will take me places I wouldn’t have gone on my own. I feel so lucky that I found the person I wasn’t looking for, the one person I truly needed. It’s easy to love a person completely when they are always making you feel lucky. That’s just one of the reasons why I find it so easy to love her so completely.

Happy anniversary to my soul mate, bacon-swapping, love of my life!