Friday, April 17, 2015

The Muffin Man

Real men might not eat quiche but I'm pretty sure that dinner rolls are on the menu. I'll get to that later but let me tell you a story first.

In the mid-1970s, my family took the good old Chevy Impala on a vacation out west. After messing around the Badlands for a few days and seeing the majesty of Mount Rushmore, we headed south on our way to Denver, Colorado.

Somewhere along that route, we pulled into a small roadside motel to spend the night. As we stood in the room that served as a lobby, watching my dad debate with the motel owner on whether or not travelers cheques were real money, we heard a loud, rumbling roar coming from the parking lot.

In through the front door walked the biggest and baddest-looking bunch of bikers that one can possibly imagine. The odor that they emitted was a congealed mixture of motor oil and tattoo ink. With my dad busy arguing over the American monetary system, I realized that it was up to me to defend my mother and sister if any trouble broke out. Me and my eight-year-old fists of fury were ready for action.

My vigilant gaze soon fell upon one of the Harley-riding behemoths talking to my mother in the corner of the room. I could only imagine the foul language that man was bandying about my poor mother's innocent ears. I raced across the room to her defense.

Once I got within earshot, you cannot possibly imagine the things I heard coming out of that rough and tough biker's mouth. My mother and this beast of a man were having a lively conversation about the rubber tree plant standing in the corner. That's right, Hell's dirtiest angel and my mother were talking about a plant. In fact, in listening to him, he knew about all sorts of plants and flowers. I believe that I even heard the bearded ruffian use the word "hibiscus," at one point.

Watching the guy talk about flora that day kind of ruined my opinion of true manliness. What was going to be next? Was I going to turn on the Phil Donahue Show and see John Wayne and Steve McQueen talk about their favorite fabric softeners? I vowed on that day, if I were to be a real man, I would have to distance myself from such feminine discussions.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. Up until then, I had been living my life in unfiltered and unadulterated manhood ... and then my wife got involved. It all started when she volunteered to make dinner rolls for this year's Easter dinner. The rolls she intended to make require putting three balls of dough into the divots of a muffin tin and, as they rise in the oven, tri-lobed dinner rolls are formed. They're really good and I highly recommend them.

However, we only own two of the muffin tins that were needed. My wife made enough dough to fill many more and wasn't sure what to do with the excess. I suggested that bigger balls might remedy the situation. She mumbled something about my maturity as I giggled uncontrollably following that gem of a line. She then looked at me and said that a "good husband" would go ask the neighbors if they had any muffin tins that we could borrow. She plays me like a fish when she uses that "good husband" stuff.

Well, I happened to be watching the neighbor's house while he was on a trip at this time, so I thought that I could raid his place first without having to ask actual people. As my daughter and I scoured his kitchen cabinets looking for the aforementioned tins, I couldn't help but imagine what would happen if the cops showed up while we pillaged my friend's house. Is their a special cell block reserved for "Muffin Tin Rustlers?" We're a pretty rough bunch.

We scared up two more tins from his house. My wife filled those and still had more dough left. She informed me that two more tins might do the trick. Begrudgingly, out the door I went.

As a I slowly drug my feet along my other neighbor's sidewalk and slowly depressed their doorbell, I silently prayed that the wife would answer the door. Alas, it was not to be.

As the husband opened the door and asked what he could do for me, I swallowed hard and sheepishly stated, "Kenny, I am about to ask you the most manly question I have ever asked another man ... do you have any extra muffin tins that I can borrow?"

I can still picture the shocked look of disbelief that rapidly turned into sheer disappointment as he shamefully lowered his head and called out his wife's name. He told her that I had a question for her. He made me repeat it again instead of saying it himself. His wife laughed and dug me out two more tins. I think she asked if I needed an apron too. I sighed. As I left the premises, I could hear him tell his wife, "I'll bet this ends up in his column."

Even though my masculinity took a hit that day, I'm happy to report that the dinner rolls were delicious. And I also think that some hibiscus would look rather nice interspersed amongst our irises and tulips. And I'm thinking about getting a motorcycle. And maybe a tattoo.

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