Everything I know about breakfast I learned in the home of my childhood babysitter, Dorothy--where, after being dropped off by my parents each morning, I would feign hunger (what Pop Tart?) in hopes that she might, in her mercy, fry me up an egg with the kind of lacy, perfectly crisped edges one only achieves by means of lard. After this second breakfast, we'd color, surf her four channels...maybe I'd nap, maybe she would. Later, though, when it was time to go home, I'd be on high spiritual alert, praying for my parents to be late picking me up so I could eat some of the delicious fish that Dorothy's husband always seemed to be catching (and frying) himself. I never felt unwanted at their table, a four-top in a corner of their kitchen with a clear view of the outside. By the time I was four, I could sniff out both an honest welcome and a good meal with a mastery that belied my years; I was also savvy enough to stuff the last bites of Lake Erie perch into my mouth as soon as I saw my parents' car pull in the driveway, lest my double-down dinner gaming privileges be revoked.
All these years later and I'm frying my own eggs, though I use grassfed butter and still can't get the edges right. Whenever I try, though, I remember Dorothy, and how she never turned me down. I also think of how precocious I was then, how I didn't want small bites--I wanted you to give me a great big piece of the world.
I still do.
On the flip side, I wonder if my parents ever realized that while they believed they were paying for childcare from a semi-elderly woman who owned a pet ferret and allowed me to watch soap operas on the reg, they were really funding my foray into a diet based entirely on fried foods. In other words, guaranteeing me a lifetime of happiness. The more I think about it, this may be one of history's last remaining examples of the "win-win" phenomenon.
*shout out to every moment of high-school angst I ever experienced, along with its corresponding Cure song.