Thursday, December 25, 2008

Peanut Butter

Len Klein
Memory Sketch #11
Friday, April 06, 2001

Walking to the corner of Bristol Street and Blake Avenue, I was bouncing around alongside my mother while Arnie, who was about two years old, was trailing behind. I was pleading with my mother to buy peanut butter, which had suddenly caught the attention of my taste buds as the most delicious thing imaginable. “Peanut Butter! Peanut Butter! Buy Peanut butter, Oh please.” I wasn’t sure she was listening to me because she was looking straight ahead and the grocery store was to the right. “Ma! Ma! Please buy some Peanut Butter,” I kept at her. She turned her head, looked down at me, and said, “OK, Now go get your peanut brother.”

I was dumbfounded. What was she talking about? Did she not understand that I wanted Peanut Butter? How could she think I was talking about my brother all this time. I didn’t think I could make myself clearer than I had already done, so what was I to do next? I looked up at her searching for some kind of answer, when she looked into the face of my painful confusion and smiled. “Go get your little brother, and we’ll go buy some Peanut Butter.” Her smile unraveled my confusion, and her words were words I was able to understand, so I bounced off to get Arnie. The first thing I said to him was, “Arnie! Do you want to get some Peanut Butter?” He looked at me and responded more to my excitement than to what I was saying. Running up to Mom he yelled, “Ma! Ma! I want Peanut Butter!” Mom was laughing, laughing at our little Peanut Butter song and dance, and said, “OK, OK, Don’t gang up on me.”

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. We did actually get the Peanut Butter, and you know what? It was every bit as delicious as I had imagined, and we loved it. Peanut Butter on Silvercup white bread; what a treat for us. We lovingly ate round the soft crust first and slowly we ate our way into the center, very carefully. It was too good to rush.

Makes me wonder that this Peanut Butter memory should still be in my head, but there it is, right along with hot dogs and mustard, French fries and ketchup, hot corn and butter. Since we never put jam or jelly on our Peanut Butter when we were young, I can’t report it as ‘peanut butter and jelly.’ We just had it on white bread, sometimes in a sandwich and sometimes on one slice.

The white bread, Silvercup or Wonderbread, was great because when it was really fresh you could pull out the center of a slice and roll it around in the palms of your hands until a sort of bread marble was produced, or by rolling it back and forth, you could make a bread stick of dough that was still sort of white. The self-rolled bread sticks were excellent for dipping in hot soup. Most of the time we ate the bread we rolled, but sometimes, you know, when the spirit grabbed us, Arnie and I just had to throw it at each other and laugh our heads off until we got yelled at.

I note that white bread is no longer something that I eat, but occasionally on a cold day in Winter, before going to my Wednesday afternoon Psychoanalytic Study Group, I’ll go into Hot & Crusty on 88th and Broadway, and have a container of hot soup and a fresh bagel. The unbuttered bagel I tear apart and dip the pieces into the soup, and the feeling that comes over me I know I’ve had many times before when soup was still new and I was just a kid.

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