They gonna brang it and we gonna swang it, Torn Slatterns and
Kanye West rented the home of the San Francisco Giants, AT&T
Park, to propose to Kim Kardashian. Kanye always said, if he was going to
propose to Kim’s big ass, he’d need a Giant venue.
Due to a system failure, people could not update their Facebook
status for several hours; it was awful. You know Kenny? That smelly kid from
third grade who ate paste? I never got to see what he was going to eat for his
Mrs. Hackner and the Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich
It is funny how food can trigger memories. Today I went to make
a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The problem? No jelly. Fine, thought the
chef in me, use another sweet like honey.
Like in a time machine, my 55-year-old brain was hurtled back 48
years to when I was in second grade with Mrs. Kolb’s class and I was having
lunch at Ricky Hackner’s house in Winnetka Illinois circa Spring, 1965.
Our school, Crow Island, was famous world wide for it’s
educational system. But we had no cafeteria, we rode our bikes home for lunch.
If you were really good friends with someone, you got invited to have lunch at
their house. Ricky and I were good friends in Second grade. We formed a club:
the Buppies. Part boy, part puppy. Will never forget my dad doubling over in
laughter when I went to pee at a restaurant toilet and I lifted my leg.
That was one of our Buppy rules.
Even as a certified-non-genius second grader, I knew there was
trouble brewing in the Hackner’s house. For Winnetka, the Hackner’s were young
and Mrs. Hackner was very pretty. Mr. Hackner had trouble keeping a job due to
drinking rumors, but he was a great, outgoing guy.
Sure enough, the Hackners
would have another child, a daughter named Wendy, and would get divorced soon
after. A true scandal for Winnetka. Ricky would also start to smoke in high
school and run with a bad crowd.
Mrs. Hackner was clearly bored and smoked a lot. She loved Ricky
to death and was a nice lady, but housekeeping and cooking held no interest for
her so, along with a dog and a cat, the Hackner house always seemed dingy and
smelly. Dishes piled high in the kitchen sink. That never happened at our house
nor any of our friend’s houses.
That was an amazing thing about Winnetka, Illinois in the Sixties. Not two blocks from the Hackner's little paint-peeling house with the missing shutter and unkept lawn, one of our classmates, a girl, lived in a Tudor mansion fully stocked with English maids, chefs and butlers.
For lunch, Mrs. Hackner had made us Ricky’s favorite: peanut
butter and honey sandwiches. Let me be clear: if Mrs. Hackner had walked into
the kitchen goose-step marching in a Hitler uniform, it would not have seemed
weirder to me than serving a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
Winnetka was a conservative 1960’s suburban Chicago town where
cutting your peanut butter and jelly sandwich diagonally would produce whispers
“Eww, they’re fancy. Are they French?”
By the time I was seven, I had garnered a well-deserved
reputation as a good eater. Ate all vegetables and liked them. (Except for
creamed spinach, I mean, come on) Even steamed okra. And steamed, not fried,
okra is about as nasty as it gets. Hell, beets? Loved me some beets. Asparagus,
broccoli and even cauliflower? Bring that ess to my seven-year-old ass.
But there was no way I could have eaten this peanut butter and
honey sandwich. She might as well have served me mud.
Now this would have been
a huge problem if my parents were present. There would be no leaving the table
until I ate all of what I was served. They were still referencing starving
children in Europe 20 years after WWII.
What Mrs. Hackner did next amazes me to this day. She simply
said and then did two amazing things. First she said:
And then she got up and made me a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich. Whaaaat? You have got to be kidding me. If we went to someone’s house
for dinner and they served me a plate of fetid lard, my parents would have
expected me to eat it and smile.
Neither of those two things ever happened in my life. Nobody
said; “Suit yourself.” Seven and living in Winnetka? There was no suiting
yourself. You suited everybody else, but yourself.
And nobody made you a second sandwich if you didn’t eat the
God bless Mrs. Hackner, whatever happened to her. No, she was
not a keen housekeeper. And, sure, the jealous moms whispered nasty rumors
about her and a handsome lifeguard and tennis instructor. And, no, they weren’t
the same person.
But Mrs. Hackner said I could suit myself and she made me a
second sandwich. That's aces in my book, see?