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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Communication Breakdown (12/16/10)

TITLE: All Purpose Flour
By Joni LeRette-Flores


In 1991, I visited cousin Chloe, an aspiring actress who resides in the "city of angels." Not exactly kissing cousins, we did spend significant time together as children. Nervous as to what the uptown and the hometown girl might find in common, nonetheless, I was excited to make my first (and only) trip to Hollywood.

“I’m so happy to see you!” I exclaimed with a quick glance to see if perhaps my thighs had miraculously reduced in-flight. They had not. “You look great.”

Making our way to Chloe's very shiny, black, immaculate Mercedes, I thought, "Bet there's no Happy Meal remnants tucked away in these seats."

Blonde, buxom, beautiful, Chloe has always resembled a California girl, the antithesis of her red-headed relative. Conversation quickly turned to reminiscing younger days. We laughed recounting growing up adventures, dance lessons, sleepovers, prank calls to popular boys.

“Remember our first solo baking attempt?” I laughed.

“Oh, my gosh,” Chloe snorted, “Wasn’t that a hoot playing 'Martha's Kitchen'.” I couldn't believe Chloe still snorted.

In the 60s, Martha's Kitchen, a locally televised cooking program starred Martha and her sidekick Jenny. Chloe and I, forever endeavoring to master the cooking craft, and both would-be actresses, we feigned the gestures of our heroines whenever invited to bake. Desire to solo in the kitchen came to fruition one sunny Saturday. We rallied to the occasion, zealous to prove ourselves. First, we cast our roles. Chloe, one year my senior, would be Martha, leaving me to play Jenny.

We spoke to an invisible audience while gathering supplies; greased, floured cake pans awaited cargo and a mishmash of oddly-sized bowls held required ingredients. I commentated with each addition and stir. It was only the handwritten recipe’s final instruction which stumped us, "Add the rest of the flour." Time to take a commercial break.

Being the assistant (and because it was my house), I consulted the expert for clarity, shouting from the kitchen-turned-make-believe television studio.

“Mom, is this right…the recipe says to add the rest of the flour?"

"Yes. You add half the flour at the beginning, stir, and now add the rest." Logical to the expert, it didn't make sense to me. Not knowing if this was just something all bakers know, I repeated, "So, we really add the rest of the flour?"

"Yes, you do." The voice issuing from Mom's bathroom sounded slightly irritated, but still didn't make sense. Prolonging our commercial break, I asked again.

“Mom, really we add the rest of the flour?"

"Yes!!!!” The reply precluded further inquisitions.

Martha a/k/a Chloe and I resumed programming. Handing over the flour canister, I pondered, "How does the recipe know how much flour we have in here?” but resigned myself to the fact there were some things I just wasn't going to understand.

Announcing another commercial break, we were hardly able to contain ourselves for the 25 minutes of baking time.

"Ding!" A slight scuffle ensued when the timer resounded.
"I get to take the tins out!" Chloe shouted five steps ahead of me.

"No. I do." I raced, trying to find a passing lane.

The conflict was settled diplomatically: we would each remove a tin; I would go first -- it was “my” oven.

Our proud expressions quickly disappeared when we discovered our cake resembled stone (perhaps we were just ahead of our time inventing organic masonry.)

Mom just couldn't imagine what had gone wrong. "You followed the directions and asked me when you didn't understand."

"Mom, I still don't know how the recipe knew how much flour we had."

Suddenly, the expert's eyes grew wide and she headed straight for the flour canister.

"We did what you told us to do," Chloe piped in sensing perhaps a need for defense.

Lifting the flour container lid, Mom's eyes darted between looking at us, faces smeared with dried batter, clothes dusted with flour, eyes filled with tears and looking at the canister.

"Thank goodness I didn't have a ten-pound bag in there!" The expert reached her arms out and embraced Chloe and me. She explained our error until we understood and assured us our cake would taste great anyway (though even our sturdiest knife bent when trying to cut through it).

On the dreams-to-reality life continuum, Chloe and I represent opposing polarities, though we have perfected, at least to some degree, our cooking skills. Yet, the "Rest of the Flour" memory brings a sense of commonality and makes us laugh. Perhaps that was its purpose.

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This article has been read 444 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Barbara Lynn Culler12/23/10
This was a fun read! I did the same thing(way too much flour) with molasses cookies!

You sure were right on topic!
Justina Page12/23/10
I really enjoyed your story. That is so funny! I have all boys who have all taken after their father and you have to say exactly what you mean to them.
Sarah Heywood12/23/10
This was a delightful read. You are a very gifted writer and held my attention all the way through with your vivid and realistic descriptions. Great job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/25/10
What a delight! Your self-deprecating humor was wonderful. I found myself laughing at your escapades!
Brenda Rice 12/25/10
Well written, interesting, funny and on topic. What else is there to say. Good job. Merry Christmas.
Emily Carlson12/25/10
Hilarious! I chuckled through the entire description of the childhood memory. Clever and cute.
Michael Throne12/26/10
Fun story. It reminds me of myself (then and now), barging ahead while trying to follow the instructions, all the while knowing that it absolutely cannot be right. Nicely told - great job!
diana kay12/26/10
a lovely story and about shared childhood memories that often help us when we meet people who have become "strangers" through adulthood.
I would have liked a little more at the end to round it up back to the adults as they were now but well written :-) thanks
Jeff Lambert12/28/10
Nicely written! This was a very funny and poignant article and the best part is that it's true. As I finished reading I couldn't help but think that, with some expansion, this would make a great movie.
Lillian Rhoades 12/29/10
Wow! Level One? ...Not for long. Great beginning, excellent narrative and well executed close. A real attention grabber. Your writing skills sparkle.