Picture a frozen lake midwinter, freshly fallen snow clinging to its banks as brightly colored skaters twirl about, carving figure 8s in the ice, while a protective line of evergreens takes up the background mountain range.
It all comes crashing apart as a gigantic tongue descends from the sky, slobbering over the scene and crashing onto the crowd. In one saliva-laden, fell swoop, the landscape is obliterated.
I look at the crumbled remains of the sugar egg on my mother’s dining room carpet, and think about Humpty Dumpty. There’s no putting this delicate creation back together, either. Now the paper figure skaters look unimpressive, lying among the crumbs of sugar on the area rug under the formal long dining table.
I’d licked my way to the center of this earth over a span of a few years, from the moment my mother had told me it was hand made of sugar. I suppose at at this point I’d asked her if the heavy egg was something to eat, and I’m sure in response she’d have given me a firm “No.”
Which, in toddler-speak, means, “Please obsess about this thing until some parent is angry.”
What a success I was as a small child.
First I licked down the little yellow and blue roses–blue roses!–on the top of the egg, and then I ate along the ruffly seams, being careful to leave enough stabilizing sugar for the structure. I must have fancied myself some kind of sugar engineer. Well, kids, someone called the Titanic unsinkable, too, so we all make our mistakes. I tried to lick more generally on the sugar walls, but those were too pointy and cut my tongue. I loved sugar, but even I had a limit. After a session of tongue caresses, I’d slip the egg back in its green cardboard box and place it in the back of the credenza, hoping it wouldn’t be until the following Easter that my mother would notice Eggville had been invaded again.
But now, staring at the two slabs of sugar walls and the bodies strewn on the floor, I knew there was no remedy.
It goes this way with special desserts sometimes. Extended family members in town for a holiday sneak away with pieces of pie through the night until the baker realizes the next morning it’s gone and she needs a new dessert for the big meal. Easter or Halloween candy gets misplaced, only to sit moldering for a few months until the family dog finds it and recycles it on the lightest carpeted area in the house.
Then there are the baking disasters themselves, which fortunately, I have not often experienced in my life, being surrounded by excellent bakers as I am. But I’ve heard of hockey puck cookies, salty cakes, stomach-disabling fruitcake, and so on. We have our ideals of what a special time holidays are for us, and then. Reality comes crashing through like the teenager who longs for one more moment of negative attention.
Thanks, reality, for keeping my feet planted. And thanks, bygone sugar egg. We shared so many great moments together. I’m sorry I killed you.