Tuesday, March 31, 2009


There are, in anyone’s life, more than a few before-and-after moments, times when things are one way before, and another after. Life always has its biggies. You know them when you get to them. There’s the moment when your first child was born, the moment when the marriage license was signed. And then there are the others, the ones you don’t even know you are having.
I wasn’t at all prepared for a before-and-after moment on the Sunday evening when I bit into that first Welsh Cake. Oh sure, I was having Sunday dinner with my boyfriend’s family, but it was an ordinary kind of dinner like my own mom might have made, chicken maybe, potatoes and possibly cauliflower. Then came dessert—ice cream for everyone and a plate of small flat griddle cookies passed around the table.
“Will you have a Welsh Cake Wendy?”
“Sure, I’ll try one, thanks.”
I was casual about it then, casual but careful to be polite like my mom would have wanted. Casual and careful. You never know what might be in a cookie, a Welsh cookie. I’d never been to Wales. If it wasn’t to my liking it would be my first and last-ever Welsh Cake. I’d better take it slowly. Oh yes, I was casual and careful too, but also ill informed about the big change on the horizon. What I did not know until it was too late is that a Welsh Cake is not a thing to be toyed with. It is not simply a cookie. It’s something addictive.
A Welsh Cake is a flat little disk, a centimetre thick, maybe 5 across. You sink your teeth in. There’s a little currant, a hint of nutmeg. You nibble the first bite, take a few more, and the thing is done.
Done, that’s what I thought. That’s why I said, “Oh, no thanks. I’m awfully full,” when the plate came to me a second time.
“Well,” said David’s father, “We’ll set the plate right beside you so you can have one if you change your mind.”
Some of the evening’s tension fell away. Here was an act of surprising graciousness, putting a plate within my reach and telling me it was there. A blind person never really knows what’s on the table and where it might be. If I’d ever thought about getting married, I had always assumed there would be a difficult time of acceptance into a family when a blind girlfriend came to dinner. But on the before-and-after Welsh Cakes day, I don’t think we had talked about marriage.
Dinner at the Edey house was a noisy affair, chatter about all manner of things. At that time a new hand-held calculator had just been purchased for $150. You could carry it in one hand! It ran on batteries. It didn’t use any paper! A paperless calculator? What a wonder!
I was totally paying attention, completely absorbed by all that was said. Really, truly I was. I wasn’t even thinking about food. How could I? I was stuffed! It was my hand that did it, that reached out, without my even knowing it, reached right out and picked up a Welsh Cake. Before I knew it I’d taken a bite. And I ask you, what could I do but finish? You can’t put a bitten cookie back on the plate.
The conversation went on. “Remember when we went to expo 67 and Dad was the only one who could pack the car because there wasn’t even one extra inch for anything after that huge tent went in with the cots for Mum and Dad. Remember that? Remember the cots? What happened to the cots?”
Camping with a whole family in a huge tent with cots? I’d never heard of such a thing. My family didn’t camp. And what was a cot, anyway. I was totally engaged, really, really listening, not paying the slightest attention to my hand, which is probably how it managed to reach right over, and pick up another Welsh Cake, and pop it in for a first bite, without my even knowing it was happening.
That night I learned an important lesson. You can’t hide an addiction forever. It will surely be revealed. “Better get a few more Welsh Cakes,” said David’s father. “That plate by Wendy is empty.”
Oh the shame! What would my mother have said about such manners? My face was a flaming torch of red. “I don’t want any more, really,” I protested. But nobody believed me. And that was the very last time they ever believed me when I refused a Welsh Cake. From that day forward there was always a choice to be made, either accept a Welsh Cake, or sit through another telling of the story. So I hardly ever refused a Welsh cake, a policy upheld since 1972. Call it co-dependence if you like.
A Welsh Cake addiction isn’t such a bad thing. It runs in families. My children have it too. The Edey family eats a lot of them. It’s the official family cookie, a point of family pride. And the Edey family was always kind to me, right from that first day. I guess family pride mattered more to them than good manners.

1 comment:

aaron said...

what a great story! now i have to go to the bakery!