Advice, Knowledge And Insight For The Modern Man

Dan Kempner
Columnist

Personally I don’t know what maturity really means, and it’s something I’ve observed more in the breach than by actual practice. But I know it when I see it, and I often see it by watching my wife. She is a young woman, but there’s depth to her, and competence, and a calmness that I often envy.

My wife, Truc, in Da Lat, Vietnam, this summer. Photo by Dan Kempner

When we first were dating, I commented to a friend that she was so smart it was hard for me to keep up. “The only advantage I have,” I said, “is that I have a few more years of actual experience than she does. The problem is, she’s getting older, and I’m not getting any smarter.”

But if maturity is about anything, it’s not about brains. It’s more in the realm of knowing our limitations, understanding who you are.

Yet even that is not enough. There’s surely something in there about managing emotions, about approaching problems with aplomb, managing disasters with complacency knowing it’s all happened before, and will all happen again.

All of which means, I am one immature son of a bitch, while my wife, decades younger, has a depth and calm interior to which I can only aspire. For proof I offer the following story, a true tale of adventure in which our hero — me — became a Danzel-in-distress, only to be rescued by a true hero, my wife.  It all started with the pancakes… (cue the harp to signal a flashback).


Photo / Unsplash

There’s a special method to making pancakes for your wife, as my own experience suggests. Here is the recipe. 

  • First, have your wife ask you lovingly if you will make her pancakes for breakfast. She has done so for you many times, so of course you…

  • Graciously assent.

  • Then, say yes again when she asks, “please, could you make them from coconut flour instead of wheat?” She is Asian, heavy wheat flour is not as pleasing to her, and she is used to coconut in everything.

  • Next, go seek your Joy of Cooking pancake recipe hoping it can be adapted, only to find that the JOC has been removed from the bookshelf and cannot be found, Not to worry.
Julia Child’s personal copies of The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. Photo source: Wikipedia

  • Google “Joy of Cooking Basic Pancakes” and find three different versions of the same recipe from various editions, none of which use the same ingredients or instructions.

  • Next, unwittingly follow all three recipes, somehow adding twice the salt, half the baking powder and no sugar, until you have a batter that might have formed the foundation for the Lincoln Tunnel. Stir.

  • Then, substitute coconut flour for most of the unbleached called for in all three recipes. Beat 100 strokes.

  • Next, be clever and think, “hmm, coconut milk might add moisture and relax the batter from its current plasticine state.” Open a can of coconut milk forgetting that it must be shaken, and scoop some of the thickest goop you’ve ever worked with into the mixture.

  • Seethe (you, not the mixture).

  • Add one extra egg. Then add more milk. Then add another extra egg and still more milk. Then add water because you have no idea what else to do.
Pancake Ingredients. Photo by Monica Grabkowska / Unsplash

  • Stir some more.

  • Final Step: angrily slam some of the mixture onto the griddle and boil – you, not the pancake – while it fails to rise, or brown or do anything resembling cooking in the slightest degree until eventually, you realize the bottom has burned black.

  • Turn off heat. Go upstairs and say to your wife, “I’m so #%$& frustrated that if I even hear the word pancake again this year I’ll scream, so don’t mention them for the next 364 #%$& days!”
Et Voilá. Breakfast is served. Photo by Dan Kempner

  • Relax. Watch the football game while she graciously rescues the recipe, finishes the pancakes, kisses your bald spot and serves them up to you with a sweet smile and just the right amount of maple syrup. 

Now that is how you make pancakes for your wife!