There’s a stranger in my kitchen, baking cookies.
He looks a lot like my teenager, although he’s a foot taller than last year’s model.
But he’s baking cookies. For the second time this week.
There’s flour on the fridge, on the window ledge, and on the sink. There’s even some in the mixing bowl.
I wouldn’t say he can’t bake. He just doesn’t. Last Christmas the two of us made gingerbread together and I thought he was getting the hang of it. I didn’t notice until too late that he’d added a tablespoon of whole cloves instead of ground.
(Before you judge him on his lack of culinary knowledge, you should know that when his mother was a teenager, she foraged through the pantry for a snack and came up with a pretty, gold-wrapped square of something called “bouillon” and popped it into her mouth. He comes by it honestly.)
There’s flour on the stove top. He hasn’t even pre-heated the oven yet!
I guess what I’m trying to say is, of all the amazing things this talented young man enjoys and does well, baking is not a strength. Cooking, yes. He can produce a mean Chèvre/Gouda mac’n cheese with very little effort, or a satisfying one-pot meal in a Dutch oven over a campfire. But these are forgiving dishes; they can handle a little miss-handling, if you know what I mean.
Baking, however, is a calm task that requires precise measuring and very little bobbing. Those of you with teens know bouncing and sudden, unexplainable leaping comes with the territory. Unless there’s work to be done, in which case they’ve got that whole comatose thing mastered.
There’s flour on the cat.
So, why would an otherwise normal teenager be using up perfectly good summer vacation days to do something other than Skype and Minecraft?
Well apparently, tomorrow is the 912th-or-something season premiere of Dr. Who. You remember Dr. Who, right? That British program(me) about a delightfully cocky extraterrestrial who travels everywhere and everywhen for no apparent reason and always manages to arrive just in time to prevent the demise of the universe.
Frankly, I didn’t even know the show was still in production, but that gives you an idea of how far I’ve fallen behind the times—although in this case, does it really matter? (Ha! Timelord humor.)
And also, apparently, this season premiere thing is a big deal. The kind of big deal that calls for a Superbowl-type party, at which chips and dip are considered unacceptable fare, as are bacon, baked beans, and bread & butter. So, looking at the list of acceptable fare, and seeing that Fish Fingers with Custard was already taken, and TARDIS Pies (the flavor is bigger on the inside) contain some rather costly ingredients, he opted to make cookies. Big, perfectly round cookies that must be decorated with Circular Gallifreyan writing. (I refuse to look that up, on the grounds that I might learn that it is, indeed, an accepted language with its own dictionary, thesaurus, and syntax rules).
Yesterday he made a half-batch, as a test. They were quite good, and floury. That afternoon we had an appointment across town, after which we stopped for lunch.
The meal is on me, I told him, but anything extra comes out of your own money. He pulled out his wallet to check his finances and when he opened it, up wafted a puff of white flour.
“Hmm,” he said, grinning as he watched the powdery white dust settle on the car seat, the dash, and all over his lap. “How’d that get in there?”
I could only watch, incredulous, and laugh with him.
Yep, I thought. I’m pretty sure that’s my boy.
“That’s monstrous! Vaporisation without representation is against the constitution!” — The Doctor