Carol and I walked by the fondue restaurant on our way to the supermarket. “I can’t believe people are still into fondue,” said Carol. “I remember when my parents were into fondue.”
“My family was into fondue at one point, too,” I said. “I remember one time — stop me if I’ve told you this a thousand times — when the cheese mixture wasn’t right, or the fondue pot wasn’t hot enough or something, and the cheese got all stringy. Remember my parents’ old house? Well, we stretched this one string of cheese from the dining room all the way to the far kitchen wall.”
“No, you never told me that story,” said Carol
How could I have not told her that story? We talked about it for years afterwards; I still have a vivid memory of that long string of cheese, close to twenty feet long. We got to the supermarket: Carol went off to find yogurt, I went to get paper towels. Another memory came to me unbidden, another one of those little stories that we retold over and over again:
Dad was pouring some coffee for my mother. Mom held her coffee cup over Jean’s bowl of cereal, and Dad started pouring. Why over Jean’s cereal bowl? I guess Mom thought that if a little coffee spilled, at least it wouldn’t drip on the table.
“That’s enough,” said Mom, and quickly pulled her coffee cup away.
Dad didn’t have time to react. He kept pouring. A stream of coffee went into Jean’s cereal bowl.
Jean, needless to say, was surprised, and rightfully indignant. I thought Dad looked sorry for what he had done, though I thought he was not at fault. Mom apologized to Jean, but treated the whole thing lightly. “We’ll get you another bowl of cereal,” she said. It took years before Jean and I got over it; we certainly never let our parents pour coffee, or anything else, over anything we were eating for years thereafter.