III. The Pies
As an added twist for 2012, and because I thought I suddenly had free time, I had this great idea to have a contest and have crap awarded to what I deemed as the BEST PIE, and possibly other categories like “Most Creative,” “I Thought This Would Taste Like Shit, But It Was Delicious” and “Most Likely To Please Jonny Craig” (see also: “Best Use of Ginger &/or hypodermic needles). But then guess what? October happened and before I knew it, I forgot to enroll in a metal-working class so I had no awards to present. Not only that, but I barely had a chance to try many of the pies and leaving the awarding up to the people wasn’t a good idea either, considering some of the pies were already devoured by the time the bulk of the pie eaters got there. John and Jennifer bring a chocolate cream every year, and every year I blink and it’s gone. I honestly thought it perished in a table-tipping accident, because I couldn’t comprehend the fact that it was polished off THAT QUICKLY.
There was basically every kind of fruit pie you could dream of. Various pumpkin pies (Amber1 made a lovely pumpkin spice variety!), cream pies, bakery pies (everyone raved over Brad’s red raspberry from the Pie Place), a cheese and tomato pie that Pete and Seri made in honor of some FANTASTIC girl who loves grilled cheese with tomato, and even two cakes that were purchased in error but happily eaten.
Kaitlin pretty much blew anyone’s chances of winning my imaginary award out of the park when she arrived with her Crack Pie. The entire pie table was a diabetic’s deathbed, but Kaitlin’s pie alone was molten Kevorkian in a tin pan. HOLY FUCKING SHIT that was a bomb pie, and you know it must be true when I use the word “bomb” because I normally wouldn’t say something so dated unless my mind was under the influence of Kaitlin’s magical baking prowess.
GOOD PIE MAKES ME SAY EMBARRASSING THINGS, OK? This is a legit psychological condition. Look it up. That’s what the Internet is for.
The crack pie was just this: an oozing puddle of silken sugar in an oatmeal-crusted vessel of weight gain, preparing to launch straight to the nearest pair of thighs. But why stop there?! Let’s add a perfectly uniform coating of powdered sugar on the top of all the other sugar. It was a fucking sugar totem pole!
That sounds BOMB right?!
It was my favorite pie of the day. Obviously.
(Shameless Friend Promotion: if you live in the Western PA area, you can order Kaitlin’s amazing desserts! And even if you don’t live around here, you should like her Facebook page anyway because she’s amazing and needs to make this her full-time job.)
Barb trying to absorb some of Kaitlin’s baking brilliance.
And God forbid I should let Henry choose his own pies to bake. Instead, I decided to make up my own pies. The one was in honor of the season premiere of the Walking Dead. It was a pistachio cream (which he made last year) with the addition of cherry coulis in the middle and poured over the top for a disgustingly beautiful blood effect. It was appropriately named Zombie Pie and it was a flop, because as usual it was unseasonably warm, and anything above 60 degrees is apparently the equivalent to Hell’s oven for a cream pie.
So within minutes of arrival, it was reduced to a pie tin full of coagulated slop.
I thought it tasted good, and that’s all that matters anyway, right? Right!?
ZOMBIE PIE YOU GUYS. Zombie Pie.
The other pie I concocted in my head was a Crunchberry Pie. In 2008, we had a cereal-themed game night (back when I used to entertain, big cry-baby sigh) which required all of my guests to bring some sort of cereal-infused snack. I made up a Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch cookie, which Henry kept saying would never work, but I made that son-of-bitch try and try again until we had the perfect batch of ridiculously amazing peanut butter cookies topped with a Cap’n Crunch crumble. Holy shit those were some good fucking cookies.
Reminded of those cookies, I was adamant that he formulate a recipe for Cap’n Crunch crust. And for the filling, I was dead set on the use of lingonberries, even though I don’t know what that is. Then I saw somewhere that they’re similar to cranberries, so lucky for Henry, I canceled his flight to Scandinavia and allowed him to go with raspberries instead. Prices of ingredients is not something that I think about when making this shit up. And when Henry tries to fight me on it, I’m like, “Can’t you just go pick some raspberries somewhere then?” which opens the door for a Boring Henry Lecture™about fruit seasons. Why stop with an out-of-season fruit?! Let’s increase the cost by adding Chambord to it!
He topped it with homemade whipped cream (he’s such a snob about whipped cream and I’m like, “Seriously dude, you really need to start going to the strip club or something, STAT”), and it was the sleeper hit of the Third Coming of Crust. If Kaitlin’s Crack Pie was Jesus on the Cross, then the Crunchberry was definitely one of those other suckers crucified with him, preferably the one who had the bigger speaking part.
(The Penitent Thief. I looked it up.)
(What? I’m just keeping with the theme, you guys!)
Probably mouthing off about his goddamn whipped cream. Look, he doesn’t have much else going for him.
The unofficial vote had it tied with Kaitlin’s Crack Pie, so Henry feels like he’s finally arrived on the scene. Too bad I invented the pie, motherfucker. I spent the next several days correcting everyone at work who mistakenly referred to it as “Henry’s raspberry pie.”
It’s OK. People are allowed to make mistakes. No one knows I’m writing a cookbook, so I’ll let it slide for now.
IV. The Pains
There were so many kids there! As Henry pointed out later, “I’ve never seen a group of kids so unable to get along.” It was actually just the boys – the few girls that were there were like little dreams.
If I heard Chooch scream, “MOMMY!” one more time, or ANY kid scream, “MOMMY!” one more time, I was about to fill my arms with pies and take it into the woods to eat alone. How hard is it to STFU and go down a fucking slide? Jesus Christ! Chooch was so freaking whiny, I couldn’t stand it. Can’t you see the grown-ups are trying to drink wine and eat some pie, son?!
My tactic was ignoring it and pretending nothing Lord of the Flies-ish was happening over yonder. Thank god other parents were more willing to except their roles in life and stepped in to supervise. I remember going over to the water pump at one point to fill up a bottle so the wind would stop knocking it over. Seri’s kids were over there, making a muddy mess of the ground, and I said in a very disinterested tone, “Do you really think that’s a good idea?” and then walked away before they could answer.
What? Kara was nearby, so I knew she had shit handled.
No child bled at all that day, and to me, that spells success.
[Ed.Note: The children were actually fine. But…you know me and children.]
One of the pie patrons whose presence I was most excited about was my co-worker Catherine. She’s only been with the Firm for less than a year, but she has quickly become one of my favorite people there because she’s so goddamn amusing. One time I was on the phone and she stood in front of my desk and then slowly traced her finger along the front braid I had in my hair in that day.
Catherine can get away with that kind of quirky personal bubble penetration.
She’s not on Facebook, so I gave her a verbal invitation, thinking for sure she wouldn’t show up. But she did! I mentioned to her at one point that I didn’t think she would come, which she thought was funny.
She was one of the last to leave, and that’s when she realized that she locked her keys in the car. This was around 6:00, which was the scheduled ending time of the party, but Seri and I were planning to walk down to a nearby haunted house which didn’t open until 7 (it was an open invitation to the pie party guests, but no one else wanted to be a part of the cool club, I guess), so lucky for Catherine we were still going to be there for awhile. Plus Henry’s family was still there too, so it was only slightly scary when the sun went down and we were left sitting under a darkened pavilion.
Catherine kept saying we didn’t have to wait with her, and I kept insisting it was fine until 7:00 came and went, and the melodious tones of the chainsaws and screaming victims wafted across a field and into my face. Then my patience started to waffle and I almost suggested that we could just leave Pete and Henry there to wait for AAA, but my couth got the best of me and I sat there quietly, waiting it out.
“You thought I was going to come, and now I might never leave!” Catherine laughed.
Eventually, I shut down socially. Not because of my company, but because I was so one-track-minded about this stupid haunted house that it was literally all I could fixate on. That last half hour, if I really was forced to describe it, was like a series of clock-tickings, amplified heart-beatings, deafening blood-pumping through veins, because (who knew haunted house anticipation was the same as vampire transitioning?) while I quietly willed the tow truck driver to fucking find us already so I could go and get my scare on.
Henry had to give the tow truck guy directions, but he still passed up the entrance to the pavilion, so our Hero, Professional Driver Henry, boarded his trusty Ford Focus and kicked up gravel as he sped away from the pavilion in an effort to lead the tow truck back to the Catherine’s car, so now Henry has another fan, THANK GOD!
Ugh. Henry, Henry, Henry!
The tow truck guy wasn’t even out of the truck yet and I was already rushing through my goodbyes, thanking Catherine for coming, giving my child the obligatory “Ha-ha, Mommy’s going to a haunted house without you” hug, only to have to stand there doing the pee jig while it took Seri a million minutes to say goodbye to everyone before finally joining me for our walk to the haunted house.
And that’s how I closed down this year’s pie party: by nearly projectile-puking pie guts on the chainsaw guys at Hundred Acres Manor.