I am cutting open a Thomas’ English Muffin for Dennis’ breakfast. My mother sees I am cutting. Slicing it. With a knife.
With shock–and I do mean shock—horror, actually, she looks at me and asks,
“Do you mean you are not using your fingers? To get the original golden hills and valleys?”
I look around, wondering where I am.
“The golden hills and valleys!! The golden hills and valleys! It’s the magic of Thomas’ English Muffins! That’s the whole point of opening them with your fingers!”
And the thing is, she’s not even joking. I see an expression on her face similar to one I’ve seen a million times over the course of my youth, like when she taught me how to do long division, or how to use a dictionary and I’d get something wrong. Concern creasing her brow, doubt that she’d been a good mother, worry that I’d grow up to have some kind of debilitating social disorder. But it’s about Thomas’ English Muffins this time.
“You understand, mother, that everything you say right now is going on the blog.”
She is not fazed. She grabs the bag and holds it up to the light. “See here? It says ‘original nooks and crannies,’ here. Okay, so ‘hills and valleys’ I made up, but it says the ‘nooks and crannies’! I think I’ve failed as a good mother that you don’t know this.”
As I sit down to type, Dennis walks in from shoveling the walk. I am typing and I hear in the background this whispered conversation:
Mom: You know about English Muffins, don’t you? The golden hills and valleys?
Dennis: Yeah. The nooks and crannies. I didn’t know they were called hills and valleys.
Mom: Well they’re not. You’re right. That’s how my sister and I called them when we were little.
ME: You did not, Mom. You just made that up.
Mom: Well, Gina cut them! She used a knife! You don’t do that.
Dennis: Yeah. Cause how else can you get the butter to soak in? They even made a special commercial about it.
Mom: [holding the muffins as if they were destroyed, burned to ash or else soaked in sewage.] Now they’re flat, they’re dry…
ME: [overhearing, exasperated.] Fine then! Give me the plateaus of English Muffins. Give me the Plains of dough. I’ll eat them for the good of mankind so you all don’t have to suffer.
Mom: Well, I’m not eating them. Dennis is.
ME: Dennis? You can give them to me and I’ll eat them so you don’t have to suffer the pain of eating knife-cut muffins.
Dennis laughs and I continue typing, each word out of my mother’s mouth adding more fuel to this blogging fire. Soon after, I turn around and see the two of them bent over a fruit cake. My mother talks about the texture of this particular fruit cake and tells him he’ll really enjoy it. Dennis agrees. They sit down and enjoy their “hills and valleys” and sips of tea.
Dennis: This is the best fruit cake I’ve ever had.
Mom: Yes, but you’ve got to use a sharp knife to cut it.
Dennis: Why’s that?
Mom: Just to bug her.