Monday, November 20, 2006

Fail To Impress

I just thought it would be melodramatic to title three posts in a row with derivatives of the word 'fail'.

Months ago as the ladies in the church gathered to plan our monthly Ladies' Evenings, I volunteered to help out with the baking. 'I love baking,' I informed them. They oldies were quite pleased to hear this because not only did it mean a little less work from them, but it also meant that maybe, just maybe, there would be someone in the younger generation to carry on the very important tradition of homebaking for church gatherings, a tradition that is dying out amongst the youth.

I was very anxious to impress. Anna, one of the older ladies who is very well-known for her homebaking, was particularly delighted. While having a cup of tea at her house one evening, she offered us some shortbread and then commented, 'You bake too, don't you?' sounding quite pleased. I really wanted to impress her with my baking. Her and the other ladies who find baking for church functions the greatest ministry a woman can have. (My church doesn't allow women to speak, so you know, baking and making tea is about the crux of it. I do not agree with this doctrine, might I add. But I do love to bake. Though I hate making a cup of tea.)

So tonight was the Big Night. I spent hours yesterday evening making up my 'tray bakes'. I made two batches of shortbread and two batches of no-bake cookies (at the request of one of the ladies who liked my no-bake cookies). It really did take hours. Shortbread is a tricky thing. I was so nervous, making that shortbread. When the dough came out all crumbly, I was nervous. I rolled the dough out a million times with the rolling pin, trying to get it to hold together, but it just wouldn't get less crumbly. I added water and more flour... refridgerated the dough (is it called dough if it's shortbread?)... Anyway, in the end I just went with it, and they turned out fine. A bit dry but tasty.

I brought in my four batches of cookies tonight on brand new Christmasy platters. I was nervous. I couldn't wait until the tea after to observe the reactions. I dreamed of the ladies complimenting me on my delicious shortbread. I invisioned them asking the 'secret' of the unique flavour.

Tea time came, and I tried to be non-chalant about watching the platters empty. I tried to non-chalantly look at people's plates to see if they'd taken any of my cookies. I watched faces as they bit into my shortbread.

The platters remained full.

The plates seemed ominously void of my cookies.

The faces eating my shortbread showed no interest.

I even found a half-eaten piece of shortbread left on a table.

Not even my friends who knew the shortbread was mine commented.

The night ended, and I peeked in the kitchen to reclaim my platters. I knew tons of cookies had been left. I asked if they were going to kept for another occasion. One lady said yes, she'd put them in some tins - unless I wanted them to take back home. No, no, I insisted, I'll just take one or two for Scott. I waited for someone to comment on them. One lady finally did. 'Was that almond in them?' she said, with a funny (I think?) look on her face. Embarrassed and suddenly terrified that my 'unique' flavour had been a disaster, I quickly explained I usually use vanilla but thought I'd try almond this time. 'Oh, no,' she said, 'I don't like vanilla.'

That was the only comment I got the whole night.

I know it's silly, but I was crushed! What if they never want me to bake for them again? I'm afraid now to even volunteer. I came home and nearly cried. Maybe it was a mixture of disappointment, pregnant hormones and the horrible rain that drenched me on my journey from the car into the house, but seriously, I'm the saddest.


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