When looking at the past, glance, don’t stare

Scientists were amazed to find that, without a brain, the single-celled slime mold Physarum Polycephalum has a memory when it comes to where food is located. I didn’t find this all that remarkable. I’m fairly convinced I’m brainless too since I can never seem to find my car in any parking lot I’ve ever encountered, yet if I’ve been inside a grocery store once I exhibit instant recall for which aisle the Hershey’s is on.

Here it is January, the month where we show great emotion and are ecstatically happy about the cold and snow, cue, snowmachiners, snowboarders and ice fishermen, plus others whose brains have frozen in place. I’ll admit I used to snowmachine and ski, but I’ve only ice-fished twice. The first time because I didn’t realize what perishing somewhere similar to Siberia would look like, and the second because too many years had lapsed and I’d forgotten how much I didn’t like hypothermia.

The other segment of the populace are sane people, pining for warmer days and down on their knees nightly asking God to bring a heat lamp to put over their town. Actually, there is one more bunch, those who get out of Dodge before those chapped-cheek skiers with sappy grins appear. They’re brainy folks who leave for the winter and are sure to watch, not the geese because those diehards are still around at Thanksgiving, but instead, the humble hummingbirds. At the first sign of frost those little buckaroos look at one another and announce in their best cowboy tongue, “Saddle up boys, we ride at daylight.”

Here we are, the holidays are over and spring is a long way off, as we glance back to see if there’s any knowledge to glean from the past year. I can tell you, without a lot of exaggeration, Gar wakes up every morning, remembers who he’s hitched to, and despondently thinks, “I’ve given up on my dreams – this is as good as life will ever get.” One day he appeared uncharacteristically jolly, so I told him a story in order to get him back on track. There was a middle-aged nurse, Terri, who was caring for an elderly gentleman in the hospital. He noticed a young couple kissing in the hall and dreamily murmured to Terri, “Ain’t love grand.” Without hesitation she deadpanned, “I wouldn’t know, I’m married.” I looked at Gar and raising my eyebrows, said matter-of-factly, “There you have it.” He’s never sure if I’m jesting or being rotten so he basically lives life looking glum.

On that same day I asked him, “Do you think there are aliens from outer space?” Answering thoughtfully, he said, “I don’t know enough about it to even make a decision.” I stared at him because not having knowledge of a subject has never kept me from having an opinion. I said as much, and sighing, he nodded, “Ya, I’m aware.”

The past year had some great times, but keep in mind I’m easily entertained. I’ve mentioned that while wintering in the south, Gar swims while I walk. How holy of us, except then we meet up and look at our coupons. Wendy’s often had buy one Baconator, get one for $1 and free Baconator cheese fries. McDonald’s ran similar specials, as did Popeyes, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Little Caesers and Subway. While you may think using coupons puts us in the oldies section, in actuality they’ll probably land us in a cardiac ICU – and that brings to mind my cooking, which hasn’t killed us yet but there’s still time. One Sunday I wanted dessert, so I asked Gar what he’d request and he answered, “nothing.” Lean in men, I’m about to impart some wisdom. When you say “Nothing,” you mean “nothing,” but when women say “nothing,” we mean something so let’s keep those paths clear. When Gar wouldn’t give me the answer I was looking for, I ignored his ludicrous logic, which I’m sure was to jog my memory about why my thighs rub together, and dug out a new recipe. It was for frosted chocolate cake: A three-layer, easily 5 pounds and 7 inches high. Besides the basics of flour, eggs and cream, it had a tablespoon of soda, 5 teaspoons of vanilla, 2 cups of butter, 3 cups of sugar, 3 cups of dark cocoa and 7 cups of powdered sugar. I really outdid myself, but so did Gar. He never once asked anything dumb like, “How many calories are in this cardiac arrest?”

Trena Eiden            [email protected]


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