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Wednesday 24 Jul 2024

Eggs for Breakfast
AJ Robinson

I’m not much of a cook. I admit it. In the kitchen, I’m the classic Bull in a China Shop and subject to an old joke; he can’t boil water without burning it?

I can make breakfast.

That’s I. In recent years, though, I got to the point where I can make breakfast.

Jo Ann, my wife, often has trouble sleeping at night. Between my snoring, her pains and the dog snoring, yes, you read that right, the dog snores, a decent sleep can be elusive for her.

Many mornings, she appreciates sleeping in a bit. Thus, little by little, I learned how to make my own eggs. I feel this is a big accomplishment.

Just the other day, while standing at the stove, I remembered something my dad told me about Pop; that was what I called his father, my grandfather. Although my dad was good at cooking, Pop was not. Making his own breakfast was about the extent of his culinary talents.

Dad explained it to me this way. The night before, grandmother would put a small saucepan on the stove with water and an egg in it. In the morning, grandfather would come into the kitchen, turn on the gas burner under the pan, put bread in the toaster and get the cream out of the fridge.

As they lived in Arlington, Massachusetts, the butter dish was on the kitchen table, no need to keep it in fridge. Next, he prepared his instant coffee; by then the water in the pan was boiling, which meant two things; one, his egg was ready, and two, he had hot water for his coffee.

Grandfather, Pop to me, was nothing if not efficient. The saucepan water served double duty. He put the egg in one of those old-fashioned holders, set it on the table and then made his coffee. As he put his mug on the table, the toast would pop up. He’d butter it, set the plate next to the other items and sit down. He had his soft-boiled egg, toast and coffee and he was ready to face the day.

Grandfather had a breakfast cooking system.

That was it. That was all grandfather could make in the kitchen. Now, this was a man who was a master plumber, had worked in the field a good part of his life and then taught plumbing at the local high school.

Pop was no slouch in the intellectual department. Considering the era when he lived, the early to mid-Twentieth Century, I think it’s clear he saw cooking as work for women and never made an effort to learn how. What I found truly funny is what my dad told me about the time grandmother went in the hospital.

I don’t recall why she was hospitalised, it might have been for her diabetes or some such thing; the point is she was away from the house for several days. Well, poor grandfather ended up essentially living on his breakfast menu. As it was all he knew how to cook, he either ate that or went out to eat the entire time she was in the hospital. I always got a chuckle out of that story.

I’m no great cook, but I can cook a few dishes so I don’t starve when Jo Ann is away. Worse yet, if I can no longer stand my own limited cooking menu, I must eat out or get pizza, Chinese takeout or some other such fast foods in order to survive.

Still, now, each morning since we moved into our new home, as I make breakfast, I think of Pop making his and I smile. I think it’s a combination of factors. Jo and I are finally in our own place, our kitchen is snug and small, yet not too much so, much like theirs, and in my mind I see grandfather moving quickly and efficiently about the room to prepare his meal.

I’m like that. Once I have a task all mapped out, I get to the point where my movements, not to be boastful, are poetry in motion. I’m a model of efficiency.

Each morning, as I sit down at our new table, I’m often barely aware of the news playing on the television. Instead of listening to the host yammer on about this or that, I hear a soft humming whispered in my ear.

I gaze at the seat across from me. It’s empty and yet it’s not. I see those thick glasses, the jet-black hair and dark stubble and I see a smile at Pop.

Cooking gives a sense of autonomy.

For many years, I regretted moving away from Massachusetts, as I felt I was leaving my past, my heritage, behind. Now I see that those concerns were unfounded. I brought all of it with me. I rather like making my own breakfast now.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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