The Day of the Party…
38. Awake at 4:35 to the EEP EEP EEP of the alarm and a loud crash as your husband knocks the bedside lamp to the floor.
39. Lie real still and pretend you don’t know anything about donuts
40. After 10 minutes, shoot out of bed. Do not slow down for the next 16 ½ hours (except for during the church service because it would be super rude to run around and flap your arms during a sermon).
41. Working as quietly as possible so that the kids don’t wake up, make six batches of this recipe.
42. Generously give your husband the opportunity to have a good (hour and twenty minute) workout kneading the dough. (You had your workout yesterday and fear of impending sore muscles and immobility has inspired you to pop a preventative Ibuprofen. You feel amazingly great.)
43. When the sun starts to come up and the children start to trickle downstairs and mess with the flour, turn your back on the mess at the kitchen table and transform 24 pounds of confectioner’s sugar into a glaze, kicking yourself all the while because of all the tasks, this one could have been done earlier.
One-third of the total amount of confectioner’s sugar
44. Look at the clock and start mumbling, There is no way we’ll be ready for church on time. Look at the clock again and state boldly, martyrously, I’m just going to have to stay home this morning. Then glance at the clock one more time, throw back your head, and howl piteously, THERE IS NO WAY WE CAN PULL THIS OFF ON TIME!
45. In typical Sunday morning fashion, fifty percent of your children indulge in their own meltdowns, turning your solo performance into a splendid trio.
47. With twenty minutes till departure time, fly upstairs to wash hair, get dressed, put on make-up. Run to the car, drive pell mell to church, screech to a halt in front of the church, and…
48. Step sedately from the car, walk calmly into the building, and collapse in your chair.
50. Suddenly feel incomplete. Mentally review your outfit. Underwear? Check. Shoes? Check. Bra—is it on backwards?—no, whew. Check. Shirt? Check.
51. Relax, again.
52. After church, drop kids off at respective houses/activities and speed home to: punch down the dough, set up the work areas, spread tablecloths, arrange flowers, eat lunch, wash apples, vacuum, take pictures.
53. When the newlyweds (who do have names—Kaitlin and Nathan—though it’s more fun to call them newlyweds because it makes you think of chirruping little birdies) arrive, send them to fetch the kids, cider, and ice.
54. Pump yourself full of caffeine and chocolate.
55. Send your husband to your brother’s house to borrow their table.
56. Cut out donuts.
57. Get bored with cutting out donuts and look up “doughnut” in the food encyclopedia.
58. Eat more chocolate and cut more donuts.
59. When Kaitlin and Nathan return with kids and cider, let them take over the donut cutting so you can relocate yourself to your station in the yard. It will become Your Spot for the next 3 ½ hours, so make yourself comfortable.
60. Heat the oil. When it doesn’t heat as quickly as you anticipated, feel flustered.
61. The first guests arrive. The oil still isn’t hot. Smile.
62. Suddenly, cars start turning in and the oil is hot. First drop some donuts in the oil and then the mesh scooper spoon on the ground. Wait while Kaitlin races the spoon into the house, washes it, and races back. Dry the spoon and stick it into the oil. It sputters wildly. Quickly remove it and holler at your husband to bring the other mesh spoon. He brings some tongs.
63. Cars are steadily pulling into the drive and passing behind you on their way down to the field to park.
64. “Get me the other MESH SPOON!” you holler to your husband.
65. “What’s wrong with the one you have,” your husband asks in his most infuriating, calm-yourself-down-you-crazy-woman voice.
66. There is no time for explanations. Shriek loudly, “The donuts are BURNING! Bring me the other mesh spoon NOW!”
67. People, quizzical expression on their sweet faces, draw closer to watch you dance about.
68. “Here,” your husband says, all confident and manly. “Give me the spoon.” And he tries to dry it off by sticking it into the flame. He only succeeds in scorching the wires.
69. “I NEED THE MESH SPOON!”
70. Finally, FINALLY, your husband races into the house and returns with the appropriate spoon and you fish out the very dark donuts. (You mean for them to get thrown away, but forget to tell Kaitlin and Nathan, so a few dear souls get to eat burned donuts and go home thinking that’s the best you could do.)
71. Your husband fixes up the original mesh spoon (the scorch marks are permanent) and hands it back to you. One of the newlyweds stations him/herself beside you and starts glazing, and after a few more batches of donuts fry up nice and golden, your shoulders start to relax.
Kaitlin bearing forth a tray of risen donuts
72. Friend Steve sees your camera sitting on the stand beside you and snaps a picture of you all a-glow with oil, stress, adrenaline, and the sinking sun.
73. Fall into a pattern: plop donuts into the oil, grab the camera and snap pictures, remove donuts from the oil, plop more donuts in the oil, and all the while, visit, visit, visit, visit, visit, visit.
74. Watch delightedly as people make themselves at home, visiting the chickens, walking the property line, ogling your basement canning shelves.
75. Kids are everywhere, bouncing on the trampoline, playing in the clubhouse, riding bike, swinging, getting a lift up so they can peer into the pot of bubbling oil, and, always always always, cramming their faces with donuts.
76. Cars continue to pull in the drive one right after the other, the donuts are being eaten as fast as you can make them, you are surrounded by chattering people on all sides, and suddenly you are so overwhelmed with happiness you could cry.
77. But tears and oil don’t mix well, so blink hard and instead smile so vigorously your face nearly splits in half.
78. About an hour into the party, start worrying that you won’t have enough donuts. Whisper your fears to your husband and when he says you haven’t even fried half the donuts yet, be relieved.
79. Then be deeply dismayed.
80. When people ask how many donuts you’re making, start to embellish. Instead of saying “five to six hundred donuts plus holes,” say “over a thousand donuts counting the holes.” Gleefully relish their amazement.
81. Let your husband take over so you can take a bathroom break.
82. Return to your post and fry away. Try not to splash the guests with hot oil as that would not be very hospitable.
83. Destroy your clothes with hot oil splatters.
84. As people begin to leave, ply them with extra donuts for the road.
85. When darkness falls and the guests disperse and you can no longer see the color of the donuts in the oil and you still have several more trays to fry, throw up your hands and call it quits.
86. When some late-coming friends offer to help clean up, do not turn them away. Instead, pour them some wine, point them in the direction of the sink, and toss them some clean dishtowels.
87. Approach Kaitlin who is still working (Nathan having left a little earlier, though after staying much later than you expected) and tell her that she can leave at any time. When she says she was planning on staying till 8:30 and is still willing to help, thank her profusely and silently beam warm fuzzies in the direction of her (from-all-appearances-based-on-their-awesome offspring) honorable and incredible parents. (You’ve been exposed to Nathan’s parents’ awesomeness for years, so that he stood beside you for long periods of time [probably getting a sugar rush through his glazed-drenched fingers] came as no surprise. However, you were very impressed that he went so far as to actually anticipate your moves.)
88. Set one of your late-coming friends up with a bowl of melted butter and another bowl of cinnamon sugar and the raised donut holes. Monkey bread will be in your future.
89. Eat apples and spoonfuls of peanut and cashew butter to counteract the sugar rush.
90. Open a care package/hostess gift: epsom salts for soaking (which you will do that evening before going to bed), a jar of pear-ginger chutney, and two-holy! freakin’! cow!-pounds of homemade maple sugar.
91. Shut down the kitchen, bid friends good night, and put kids to bed.
92. Bask in weary exuberance.
93. When your husband asks, “So, was it worth it?” say, “Absolutely” and mean it, down to the tippy tips of your tired toes.
This same time, years previous: keeping my hands in the toilet, pumpkin-sausage cream sauce, rhubarb cake