I recently watched Clueless for the thousandth time since it debuted when I was fourteen. Seeing it then with my best friend, the movie became a bible of sorts for our teenage lives. Our language changed and we started focusing on larger picture questions like colleges and careers. Watching it now, sixteen years later, it still strikes me as a defining movie of my generation. I know it has had an influence in my own life.
Early on in the film, Alicia’s character Cher is infatuated with a boy. Cher, goes through a maddening whirlwind of hair, clothes, and make-up, anticipating the boy’s arrival. Then, she drops one of my favorite movie lines of all time:
“Whenever a boy comes, you should always have something baking.”
In the film, Cher throws a log of cookie dough onto a baking sheet and tosses it in the oven, anticipating the night ahead with her beau; instead, I bake a batch of Thin, Crispy, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and turn them into Ina Garten’s Mocha Ice Box Cake anticipating the return of my boyfriend, Scott. Easy, if it weren’t for my stomach.
I’ve been sick for the last couple of months; it hasn’t been pleasant. The persistence of my symptoms has the doctor and I searching for answers. The pain and discomfort I’ve been experiencing in my stomach has definitely been making an impact on my daily life. I don’t want to jump the gun, but my family’s history of autoimmune disease has me wondering about a couple of the possible answers.
None of that, however, was going to keep me from baking cookies when Scott came home. There are few scents that make you relax and feel at home as efficiently as freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. What better way to welcome him back than with a batch of cookies-turned-cake?
The poor guy had to go to Antigua for a job (rough life, right!). He’d been gone for ten days, which is just long enough to really notice when someone you live with is gone. The first day was the hardest. I swear, my stomach hurt more than normal that day and I kept looking over from the chair to the couch to check in on him. Alas, each time I looked, he wasn’t there. As the week progressed, it got easier to find myself alone with the dog and cat, but I still missed him and couldn’t help but worry about being sick.
I’m one of those people who naturally see the glass as half empty, the day as half consumed. I try to keep a positive outlook on life, but I have to work to see past my own pessimism.
My friends and family were all good sports. I filled the days while Scott was away with an art project. It’s completed now, three panels of a Wonder Woman collage. I really like the result. I visited with friends and family and tried to keep my mind off of his absence and my increasingly problematic gut.
I only went to work two of the ten days he was gone. I went that first day, feeling wretched; deciding to take it easy and rest over the weekend.
The kids were sad; it meant I was going to miss their Valentine’s party. I am a first grade teacher at an elementary school. They understood though. No one likes to feel horrible away from home.
That meant I was home alone with Riley-dog and Kitty-ji for the majority of the weekend. Slowly, I worked on the Wonder Woman collage, finishing it up over both Friday and Saturday. By Saturday evening, my stomach was feeling better.
Scott emailed me.
Good morning, sweet boy.
Missing you and little Riley so much.
I hope you have a great day.
Let’s try to video chat tonight.
It’s those messages that send me to the kitchen. His sweetness and affection, even from half the world away, help inspire me to make each day an art. What better way to express your appreciation and affection to someone than through an expenditure of talent and craft? The Wonder Woman Collage, the Mocha Ice Box Cake, the Whiskey Shrimp, these are all just symptoms of that affliction known as happiness. How can a guy not try to make a desert?
Still taking it easy, I went to see The King’s Speech with a friend. I got home in time to video chat with Scott. It was nice to see him. We didn’t talk long, he still had work to do and it was getting pretty late in Antigua. I said goodnight and rested some more in front of the TV.
now i miss you even more
Scott texted a few minutes later. The text was great, icing on the cake after the video chat. It’s easier to sacrifice a few days apart when you have the means to be virtually near.
Scott had my V-Day gifts sent in the mail. He’s been feeding my love for creativity with pop-up books. These two new ones were perfect. I had gathered a basket full of items for his new tennis bag – tennis balls, grip tape, a sports shirt, some healthy snacks, some chocolate, sunscreen spray, essentially the little things that you need. Unlike me, Scott had to wait for his gift. I had a full afternoon to sit and explore the details of each book.
I went to work on Tuesday and found I didn’t have a substitute and my students didn’t have their Valentine’s Day party either; they were all split between the other first grade classes. After our core learning was finished for the day, I spent a few minutes explaining to the kids that I would be gone for the rest of the week because I needed to spend some time taking tests with the doctors.
“My mom had to have some tests done with the doctors a few months ago,” said one of the girls.
“My stomach hurt when I was littler,” one of my boys shared, “the doctors had to do a lot of tests and then they did surgery on my stomach.”
More of the kids shared out. They all had a story about going to the doctor or getting a shot. It made for a sweet afternoon, the kids sharing their concern by making links between us. We ended the day with their missed Valentine’s Day Party. They each got a couple of handfuls of chips (they were the baked kind – we have a healthy school environment) and a juice pack. We watched a movie and colored on Valentines coloring pages until it was time to leave.
The next day I had to prepare for the colonoscopy. Lets just say it wasn’t the most pleasant experience of my life and leave it at that. Afterwards, I was off to doctor. Scott would be home much later that evening.
Everything went well with the doctor. They took some biopsies and removed a polyp. I’m making a conscious effort to not dwell on the results until I actually get them.
Regardless of the colonoscopy, an angry stomach, or a bit of anesthesia, I was determined to make a simple meal and treat for my favorite fella. Starting early, pushing through the tired and the slight ache in my stomach, I baked the batch of cookies and made an easy dinner, Whiskey Shrimp with Garlic Asparagus.
“Cookies and shrimp?” Scott said immediately though the door. “All this for me?”
“What can I say,” I replied, “I missed you,”
“It’s the best, baby,” he said, apologizing for not finishing his dinner. He had a couple of cookies later that evening. The cake was a huge success the next day (I recommend making it for a group of people, the whole cake was a bit daunting for two). Unlike Cher, I’m a success in the kitchen, but I think I have to credit Clueless as part of the inspiration for my kitchen addiction. The goodness of spirit exemplified in the movie can only help inspire others to give from their heart. It’s no surprise that this Smogger article, kept my favorite line the same in its hypothetical update. The moral: whenever a boy comes, you should always have something baking.
This is my life – a little bit of fun, a little bit of work, some time for art and creativity. Here’s where I’m going to work at making sense of it. I have many moments where I fail; but I try to find the heart of life as good.
(Inspiration came from this episode)
1 Stick Butter
1/2 Onion Minced
1 tbs. Garlic Minced
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 tbs. Fresh Lemon Juice
2 tbs. Chopped Fresh Tarragon
I lbs. Shrimp (I prefer the 10-15 count)
1 Shot Whiskey
Heat half of the butter in a pot on medium low heat. Add the onions. Cook onions until soft. Add garlic; cook for thirty seconds. Add the heavy cream, the lemon juice, and tarragon. Adjust the heat to keep the cream from scalding; low heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking, stirring often, for 20 minutes.
Remove the sauce from heat when thickened.
Meanwhile, salt and pepper the raw shrimp to taste. When the cream sauce is finished cooking, heat the remaining butter on medium high heat in a large pan. Add the seasoned shrimp to the pan. Turn shrimp over when they start to pink, about 1-2 minutes. Add the whiskey before the shrimp finish cooking. Ignite the whiskey to cook off the alcohol. Once the flames subside, add the cream sauce. Stir to combine. Remove from heat.
Serve over toasted French bread.