After the movers came for my father’s things, I wandered into his empty kitchen. Along the back wall where the refrigerator had been, I noticed a few flecks of reddish-brown clinging to the off-white paint halfway up. There was no need to ask, because I knew exactly what it was. I wasn’t alarmed, but rather impressed that my blood could have sprayed so wildly that it hit the back wall and found its new home behind the Frigidaire. The thought of that late October blood bath made my scar itch.
It started out very much like every Friday night at my father’s place– a dinner of grilled London broil, baked potatoes, french cut green beans, and a green salad tossed with Good Seasons Zesty Italian Dressing. My father drank beer; my brother, sister, and I drank milk. It was the milk that lay at the root of the disaster.
My sister, with her superior sense of smell, sniffed the carton and insisted the dairy in question had gone bad. My brother, with his superior sense of thrift and even more superior sense of being superior, claimed otherwise. To prove his point, he took my father’s second largest brandy snifter (the largest one housed a collection of matchbooks from everywhere my father had ever eaten) and poured in two fingers of sweet acidophilus. With the grand gesture of a ham actor auditioning for the role of master sommelier, he swirled the milk around in the glass, inserted his nose into it and sniffed thoughtfully and repeatedly, rolled his eyes into the back of his head, and proclaimed it not only fit for consumption, but perhaps the finest glass of milk he had ever been fortunate enough to smell. It was a bravura performance the likes of which I have not seen another fourteen year-old boy perform with barware before or since. He finished the milk and set the snifter in the sink before we sat down to our meal.
After dinner, I sat on the living room floor to watch television as my father lay asleep on the couch behind me. Bored, I went into the bathroom to change into a pair of Mickey Mouse pajamas to join my brother and sister in the master bedroom, where they sought refuge from my father’s snoring.
They were sprawled upon the bed, eating pretzels and drinking root beer from smokey green tumblers the texture of which gave the impression that the molten glass had formed and cooled around bubble wrap. I loved drinking from them because they made me feel older than my six years. My father often drank scotch from them. I wanted to drink root beer out of one like my older brother and sister. Like a grown up. Or an almost-grown-up.
“Lori, can I have root beer in a green glass?” I asked my sister.
“Go get it yourself,” she said.
“Doug?” I pleaded to my brother, hoping for a little more understanding.
“You heard your sister. Go get it yourself.” They were so engrossed by Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines that they didn’t even bother to look up from the television screen. I went back into the living room to ask my father for a glass, but he was sound asleep.
So I decided that, if I wanted a big boy glass, I’d have to be a big boy and get it myself.
The kitchen was clean and smelled of dish soap. There was still a donut of suds in the sink where the dishes were soaking. I was too small to reach the cupboard in which the green glasses were kept, but I was big enough to climb onto the counter to get at them. Intent upon my quest, I failed to notice that the countertop was still wet. My white cotton socks slipped out from under me and I fell into the sink with a crash.
I don’t know how he managed it, but my father went from sound asleep on the couch to cradling me over the sink in what seemed like a nanosecond. The last thing I remember seeing was the blood on him. It was nothing like any blood I had seen before from a scrape or a busted nose or even a horror movie. It was thick as syrup. And it was mine. My eyes rolled into the back of my head in the same spot where my brother’s had while acting dramatic with the brandy snifter in his hand. The two major differences being that I was not acting and that the brandy snifter was not in my hand, but in my ass.
The glass had cut through my right buttock, through the gluteal muscles, and hit an artery. The blood pumped and sprayed everywhere.
“I didn’t think it was possible for so small a boy to have so much blood,” one of them said when it was all over.
My father has never forgiven himself for pulling the glass out of me. He knows how arteries work, he says. My sister has expressed remorse for not getting me that damned green glass. My brother apologized profusely for the brandy snifter gag. But they were all marvelous in a crisis. They all banded together and saved my life. My sixteen year-old sister stemmed the blood flow by applying pressure with a pile of beach towels. My father had the presence of mind not to wait for an ambulance when he lived only two blocks from the nearest hospital. My brother held my hand and didn’t take his eyes off of me on the way to the emergency room.
I remember that my father was driving a new Cadillac at the time– white with a powder blue interior. I don’t remember seeing it after that night. Shortly after the accident, he purchase a black-on-black Honda Accord. One of these days, I must remember to ask him if the timing of this automobile switch was merely coincidental.
I may not have died that night, but the accident absolutely ruined my Halloween. Hobbling about on crutches until the muscles healed, I wish I would have been clever enough to have come up with a costume to incorporate them. I mean, I would have killed as Tiny Tim.
Milk Pudding with Amarena Cherry Syrup.
Milk Pudding is not the most exciting dessert in the universe, but was the obvious thing for me to serve in a brandy snifter, given the story. And the syrup adds both flavor and a graphic visual punch. It had to be done. There was no other choice but to make it.
But you certainly don’t have to. If you like bland, glutenous goo, you are welcome to it. If you like desserts with the texture of a dehydrated male’s sexual effluent, then be my guest. I’m sticking with proper custards in the future.
Not every recipe on a food blog has to be edible. If that were true, just think of all the bloggers out there who would be out of business.
Fills four brandy snifters.
• 3 1/2 cups of whole milk
• 1/3 cup tapioca starch (arrowroot starch will also work, but it is much more expensive)
• 1/2 cup sugar
• A pinch of salt
• the zest of 1 whole orange
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
• As much amarena cherry syrup as you need to satisfy your blood lust.
1. Mix together tapioca starch and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
2. Pour milk, orange zest, and salt into a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, remove from said heat, and let sit for 5 minutes, covered.
3. Pour the hot milk into the tapioca starch/sugar, whisking wildly. Return the liquid to the saucepan and heat over a medium flame, whisking enthusiastically until the concoction begins to thicken. About two minutes.
4. Pass the thickening goo through a fine mesh sieve into a something with a pour spout, like a 4-cup Pyrex pitcher. Divide among four brandy snifters. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
THE BEST WAY TO SERVE THIS DESSERT IS NOT IN A BRANDY SNIFTER.
Why is this? Because the surface area of the pudding should be covered with wax paper or cling wrap to prevent skin from forming. I’d like to see you attempt this with a brandy snifter.
5. Serve with a generous splatter of syrup to baffled guests, then proceed to tell them all about how you nearly bled to death from falling on a brandy snifter.
Then provide them with real brandy served in anything but a snifter. Groovy green glasses would be nice.
Or you can simply toss the whole mess into the sink and forget about it. Or, rather, don’t forget about them. Wash them, remove them from the sink, and place them out of the reach of a six year-old’s behind.