My First Recipe
December 21, 2009

This morning, I got an email from my mother, "I ran across this recipe in my collection. I don't know if this was from a Jefferson class project."

I can't remember when we made these cookies, either. It could have been at Jefferson Elementary, but it also could have been for my Brownie troop. However, Mom and I both remember that it was my friend Jinx's mother who was famous for teaching us how to make these virulently green, marshmallow-y cookies. God, they were good.

The recipe card brings up so many memories.

First off, let's discuss my handwriting. Yes, every child has to learn how to print neatly, but my handwriting was ALWAYS an issue for me. And my teachers. And my parents. I was in no danger of turning into a murderous little bint who would use tap shoes to kill for a penmanship medal she thought was rightfully hers. No. I would have KNOWN that penmanship medal didn't belong anywhere near me.

In fact, I believe I even got a few "N"s on my report sheet for my chicken scratches. (Report cards at Jefferson didn't do ABCs. We had "O" for "outstanding," the highest and most excitable grade you could get; "S" for "satisfactory," which was still pretty good but seemed to damn you with faint praise; "U" for "unsatisfactory," which sounded a lot worse than it was; and "N" for "Needs improvement," which was the worse you could get but, somehow sounded more positive than "unsatisfactory.")

Practicing my handwriting at home was a pain, and it was a constant. My teachers would send me home with sheets of those special pieces of tri-colored dotted line paper. The top third was pinkish, like the best kind of strawberry ice cream, the middle dotted-line section that functioned like a lowercase guide rope was creamy vanilla, and the bottom third was light, chocolate-y brown.

Indelible Neapolitan ice cream associations aside, that practice paper was some lousy stuff. For one thing, the space used for printing your letters was freakishly large. Who makes a uppercase "a" 2 inches tall? No wonder my printing still sucks. Also, if you made a mistake -- like you forgot to loop the top of your "h" -- and tried to scrub it out in order start over again, the paper wrinkled up on you, leaving gaping holes.

Check out my "k" in "flakes" -- it looks like a damn "R"!

Oh. My. God. I just realized what it is. It's a freaking D'NEALIAN "k"!

Being a child of the 70s, I was subjected to a new cursive training philosophy known as "D'Nealian." D'Nealian was when your letters weren't printing but they weren't cursive, either. D'Nealian letters fell somewhere in between. Some D'Nealian letters were given individual tails that weren't allowed to link up to other letters -- because that would be actual cursive and we were told that we weren't ready for cursive and if we mistakenly fell into cursive, we got marked down for it -- and instead had to just hang there, incomplete and totally unsatisfying. D'Nealian blew. I hated it.

I hated it all the more because my parents and my older sister were never put through its monkey tail paces. Oh no, D'Nealian was some new-fangled hippie handwriting philosophy saved only for me. I even hated the NAME "D'Nealian," because it kinda sounded foreign and exotic but it wasn't. It was just some totally made-up name constructed from the inventor's first name, "Donald," and his middle name, "Neal."

I hated D'Nealian all the more because I really, really wanted to learn cursive. I didn't want to be mired in this penmanship limbo where I wasn't printing any more, but I also wasn't allowed to graduate to the advanced state of cursive. For me, printing was plodding and slow and it was babyish. I was impatient to be grown-up, dashing through the curly letters, making elegant words that were hard to read.

How revealing that as an adult, I'm still too impatient to print. Annoyingly, there are many forms in life that require you print everything out because, I presume, they think print is easier to read. They haven't seen my print. When faced with such forms, I have to physically restrain myself from lapsing into cursive. Meanwhile, the Evil Dr. Mathra has the neatest printing I've ever seen. Small, precise, careful, and patient. He told me he was never forced under the D'Nealian yoke.

Back to the recipe card. Note how I signed it: "Stephanie V." Well, that's because I went through a phase where I hacked off the second initial of my last name. Everyone else had only one last initial, so why would I want to be weird and have two? So, I dropped the "W." and was "Stephanie V." for awhile. Eventually, my dad caught wind of what I was doing and explained that in reality, our last name should have three initials "van der Weide," but that if I was going to choose one initial, it probably should be the "W."

That was too confusing to explain to everyone. After all, the first sound you heard was the "V." It was probably after junior high that I had my After School Special moment and realized it was okay to be slightly different from everyone else, so I reattached the "W" to my name.

When I got married, I took the Evil Dr. Mathra's last name, but adopted my maiden name as my middle name. Having four intials was way too awesome to give up.

Hungry? Get a menu pushed
under your door when I update:
Powered by MessageBot
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
  Copyright © 2002-2008 Stephanie Vander Weide