1. It looked soft and supple

2. Shortbread

3. We all had to do it


Cassandra Blenkensop had hated housework forever. She hated dusting, and vacuuming, and wiping down kitchen counters, but most of all she hated cooking.

It was bad enough that she had to spend a couple of hours each week wandering the aisles of the Super-Save Market, trying to find anything that she could convince herself to cook. If it hadn’t been for a husband and eleven kids crying piteously for food everyday, she’d have been just as happy to live at Taco Bell and skip the grocery store altogether.

Yes, eleven kids. There were parts of this marriage game that she liked quite a bit. It was just that not a lot of the fun times took place in the kitchen.

Cassie’s best friend Susan couldn’t quite understand her antipathy towards the culinary arts, but she sympathized with her anyway.

“Actually,” Sue told her, “there are a great many people who don’t like to cook. At least, I think there must be. Personally, I’ve always had fun with it since I was a kid.”

Cassie stared at her and tried to conjure up a reasonable reply.

“Well, all this started in my childhood, too, you know, long before I ever met Pete Blenkensop. I think it was Miss Dalhauser’s Home Ec class that started it all. Up until then, I didn’t mind putting together the odd peanut butter and coleslaw sandwich. I even made up toll house cookies from the recipe on the bag once in a while.”

Susan looked at her with an encouraging smile. “Yeah, I remember Miss Dalhauser’s class. It was seventh grade, wasn’t it? I never could figure out why all the Home Ec teachers were Miss Somebody-or-other, just like all the gym teachers. If they were Home Ec experts, shouldn’t they have been missus-es?”

“Anyway,” Cassie went on, “this one day she gave us a project. We were in groups of four, you know, and mine had Annette Felsome and two others that I don’t remember now. Each group picked a recipe from a hat (ours turned out to be rhubarb shortbread—no, shortcake) and the trouble started right there. I told Miss Dalhauser I was allergic to rhubarb, but she wouldn’t listen. She just sniffed in that way she had and said we all had to do it. I tried to get Annette to switch recipe cards with the group that had root beer floats, but she wouldn’t do it. Or maybe they wouldn’t.”

Cassie paused for breath and remembrance, and when she took up the tale again it was as if it had all happened yesterday.