One of the office folk decided to purchase 4 pies to share with the staff as celebratory recognition of one of our coworkers birthdays.
They were homemade from a mom and pop.
Now, I saw the boxes on the counter, but they hadn't been cut or anything yet. That left me to vulture the community counter from time to time. Finally, the boxes were sitting opened and pieces had been carved out of the goodness in round tins. Then I saw it.
There's a great story about lemon meringue and me. Actually, it involves my Grandma-ma. When I was in college, I would fly past Grandma and Grandpa's house on the way to whatever job I had. Grandma would make me lunch, or dinner, depending on when I was coming or going. Sometimes I had classes rather late (until 10 PM for one), so Grandma wanted to send me out fed. If I was on just a run through, Grandma would pack me dinner. She would pack me napkins that she would write messages on. She would draw me faces or "sing" me favorite songs on the napkins.
Yes, I still have them. Don't worry, I saved them and didn't use them. Grandma was ill with colon cancer and I didn't know how many more napkins I would get.
You see, I started stopping by for a daily meal to give Grandma something to take her mind off of her cancer. I always had a very close relationship with Grandma and Grandpa, they lived a mile up the road and they were the get-dropped-off-the-bus babysitters. How I look back on those days with smiles.
I promise. I will get back to the pie. This post tonight-- it's a little tangential. Stay with me.
I remember one meal in particular. Grandma had prepared kielbasa and pierogies with sour cream. I had my styrofoam plates that Grandma had masking taped together, along with my plasticware and the napkin of the day. I had printmaking that evening and got there early enough to eat my dinner (class was at 6 PM) and press on with the act of cranking out prints. One of the guys in class cruised by and asked, "Is that sausage?"
He went about, doing his thing. On a second pass he asked, "Are those pierogies?"
Then, he leaned in and said, "IS THAT SOUR CREAM?"
"Yes, yes it is. Would you like some?" He did. I told Grandma that I had shared my Polish dinner with a fellow printmaking student and it made her heart so happy. Every evening we had class, that kid did do the vulture walk-by to check out my dinner!
But back to the pie. On one of my meal stops, Grandma was just wrapping up from having company earlier that afternoon. Uncle Chet and Aunt Flo had come in from east of the city. Grandma had 1/2 of a lemon meringue pie sitting there. "Amy, you eat whatever you want." I sat there, chipping away at the pie as Grandma and I talked on about their visit, my day and so forth. We talked, I ate, we talked, I ate. Apparently, we had talked for quite some time because I ate the entire half of a pie.
I should add this one bit of information. At the time, I was all of 100 pounds at 5'1". I had a wonderful metabolism and didn't gain even so much as an ounce. Today, I'd pack on 10 lbs, my face would break out, I would have acid reflux, a monster stomach ache and I wouldn't sleep for three nights.
But, back to today's pie. I was so thrilled to see lemon meringue because I admit, I haven't had it since the 1/2 pie consumption incident of 1993. Y'all, I've been on a lemon meringue break for 18 years.
I had piece number one this morning. It was so tart and jelly-like. The meringue was high and delicious. I decided that at 4 PM, I had to take one more vulture trip to the community counter to see if there was any left.
There was a piece big enough to split in two.
Ron, our shipper was in the kitchen gathering the garbage and laughing as I was trying to carve the piece of pie out and safely transfer it to a plate.
I didn't do such a good job.
"Ron, do you want this hunk of pie? I can't eat it. It's touched the counter."
"You should have pinched the top of the pie with your hand and it wouldn't have flopped."
"But, Ron. My hands are dirty."
"Oh, your hands are fine. See you need to . . . "
"No, Ron. You don't understand. I couldn't touch the pie because MY HANDS ARE DIRTY AND I'M A GERMAPHOBE! Just like I can't bring myself to eat that hunk of pie I dropped on the counter. I don't know what's been on that counter and it seems a waste to dump an otherwise perfectly good piece of pie because of it."
He had me eat the other piece in the pan and he scraped up the droppings of the first piece. We talked about the 1/2 pie consumption and laughed on as that had been his second piece in a row. He didn't mean to eat it, but I dropped it and it couldn't go to waste.
I thanked him when I left. I thanked him for breaking pie with me. What a wonderfully tangential walk down memory lane. It was a good one, even if the lane veered to the left and right, under bushes and through the woods a bit.
My Grandma was a neat lady and I think of her often. You better bet that I can't look at a piece of lemon meringue and not see the smile on her face, especially that smile when she realized I ate 1/2 of a pie all by myself.