Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Mystery of the Corn Fritters

There is a sequel to yesterday’s story of my mother’s fricassee. I didn’t even remember it till I did a search on my computer for “fricassee.” It came up with this 2009 email I sent:
So there we were at a Sugar House in Massachusetts, eating pancakes and corn fritters with fresh maple syrup, and Elizabeth said, “These are different from the corn fritters you make.”

I stare at her. “I never made corn fritters.”

“Yes, you did. Aunt Selma taught you how, and the first batch you made were pretty hard, but the next batch was great.” (or something like that)

I say, “I have never made corn fritters in my life.”

I am on the edge of turning 56, and already I’m denying I ever made fricassee!?!

 I am worried sick. Has anyone else ever eaten corn fritters from my efforts?
My other sister, Allison, replied: “I don’t remember your making corn fritters OFTEN, but in fact I have the nuggets with kernels of corn in them rather clear in my memory and I do remember they were made by you. I don’t remember them being from Aunt Selma. I thought they were from a friend of yours (from high school?).
(supposed to be corn fritters)
It gets worse. The next email is from me again:
       “Okay, who set Mom up? She just called to ask for my recipe for corn fritters so she can bring them to Phyllis’ house for Passover (never mind that they have flour in them, I think.) ‘I think’ because I have never made corn fritters so I don’t know what’s in them!”

Allison denies involvement. She’s still one step back: “I’m still trying to delve deeper into my memory and see if it was really YOU who I associate with the fritters. In my memory they look great.”

And finally, the culprit sister surfaces. Elizabeth emails, “OK, I have to admit it, it was I who put Mom up to it. To tell you the truth, I didn’t think she’d remember to do it, I’m impressed!”

If we’ve reached the point where my mother’s memory is impressive, we’re all in trouble. All I can imagine is that I must have taken my sisters out to Sourdough Mining Company on a visit and those are the corn fritters they’re associating with me. I can’t imagine deep-frying in my mother’s house; she’d have had us cleaning the stove for hours. (Do corn fritters require deep-frying?) And what was Aunt Selma doing in our kitchen anyway?

The thing is, when we were packing up the old house when my mother moved, I came across the large souvenir program from Dreamgirls when it opened on Broadway – with all my little notes and travel directions clipped to it. The startling coincidence: I had just seen it in Anchorage for the very first time. I also came across a paper I’d written, something about existentialism and the writings of Sartre and Kafka. I checked the bibliography; lots and lots of Kafka entries. Yes, I’d done my thesis on Sartre, but I have never read any Kafka. Nothing. Not even the one about the cockroach. 
Tim is making cracks about 50 First Dates, but I’m thinking of all the parallel universes that exist. How one branches off from another and in one, I’ve never done something while in another, I have. And every now and then, the universes overlap and things get confusing. Or one universe for my sisters collides with a universe of mine that doesn’t synch. There is just so much complexity in time and space!

And I do remember reading all of George Orwell, John Steinbeck, and Sartre. Maybe Kafka just isn’t that memorable.


  1. Fritters must always be deep fried.

  2. I will sometimes watch a movie "I have never seen before." After about half an hour I might suddenly realize that I actually have seen it. Not right at the beginning, but after watching it for half an hour or so.

    Putting on my lawyer hat, I will also point out that your story illustrates why eye-witnesses are not necessarily reliable in trials.

    My theory, which doesn't hold water all the time, is that you remember things that are important to you better than things that are not important - or things with an emotional impact. This is why you can remember what you were doing when you heard about 9/11, but you can't remember anything from the day before. And why you can remember your favorite dress when you were in high school, but you can't remember the dresses your mother bought you (unless you really hated them).

    This suggests that eating corn fritters is/was more important to you than cooking them.


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