It’s a Date, Martha!- Oatmeal Bars with Dates & Walnuts! – 121 eggs, 93 cups of sugar, 93 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 107 2/3 cups of flour used so far- 104 recipes to go!

October 12, 2010


Martha's Oatmeal Bars with Dates & Walnuts



André's Oatmeal Bars with Dates & Walnuts


So, I was going out of town for a few days and our friend, Juli, and her daughter were heading from Wichita to our house to spend the weekend with my partner, Dan. Juli had hinted that her daughter was obsessed with not consuming anything white- white sugar, white flour, white rice, etc… . Even though Juli’s daughter is all of five years old, a teacher at her school went on-and-on about the dangers of processed and bleached staples. This created a new food paranoia.

Food freak-outs are pretty common with children. Well, actually, general freak-outs are common with most kids which is why Dan and I have decided to grow old together and teach our cats how to tend to us in our waning years. I suspect they’ll put us in a home and use our social security checks on cat toys and cheap booze.

I didn’t want Juli’s daughter to have a meltdown and so I chose Oatmeal Bars with Dates & Walnuts. They contain ground oatmeal, whole wheat flour and brown sugar- all quite brown. They look healthy with their sprinkling of rolled oats on top and chunks of dates poking out here and there. If it didn’t have so much damn butter, you’d think you were actually being heart-healthy in consuming four or five of these.

These weren’t my favorite. They’re really dense and you feel a bit bloated after having one. I shared some with the couple that gave me a lift to the airport. One was a co-worker and the other was her girlfriend who I didn’t know was a trained chef. After I found that out I kind of wanted to take the oatmeal bar away from her and throw it out the window.

So, if you feel like making a tasty and healthy treat, look elsewhere. Martha’s Oatmeal Bars with Dates & Walnuts are a bit like thirty-year-old virgins… they may look the part but you’re just going to be disappointed.

In my last posting I presented the cast list of my close-knit group of friends from high school- The 12 Nice Guys. If you haven’t read the previous post, I suggest taking a moment to familiarize yourself with the names and descriptions.

The first time I ever got drunk I passed out. It was in the Winter of 1985 and it was right after my 17th birthday. Under my dad’s suspicions of me being gay, or AC/DC as he called it, tensions between us escalated to the point where I was no longer welcomed to stay in his house. Instead I lived with my maternal grandmother in a vast subdivision of Baton Rouge called Villa Del Rey. Short, squat, one-story ranch homes lined the streets. There was very little in the way of greenery or visual interest in the neighborhood. Grandma’s house was right around the corner from a public high school that sported two enormous football fields but, ironically, due to budget issues, had no football team. Her neighbors were a kind elderly couple who lost their teenage son years ago. He had been huffing spray-paint in the woods near their home when he asphyxiated and died. I remember my parents refusing to tell me and my sisters how he perished. “He was really stupid and he died.” -is all I remember my dad telling me. This made me worry because I was doing stupid stuff all the time. I guessed my days were numbered. Years later when I learned of the dangers of drugs and inhalants through school-funded seminars I was able to piece together what happened to their son and vowed I would never indulge in any inhalant ever. Incidentally, that’s a promise I kept. I’m quite proud I make it through the 80s without ever huffing anything.

So it was Winter and grandma was going out of town to visit my uncle’s family in Houston, Texas, one of the many, many die-hard and vocal Republicans in my family. I would have the entire house to myself and my 17th birthday had just passed without so much as a birthday card. According to the popular teen movies of the 80s, the sensible thing to do was throw a party and that’s exactly what I did. Every one of The 12 Nice Guys was there as well as a lot of peripheral friends. We decided on a Wednesday that the party would happen that Friday night and so getting the word out was an urgent task. A task that backfired. We were so urgent about letting people know about the party, that… well… everybody knew about the party. Right after school on Friday my friends and I were able to purchase a couple of kegs of beer and set them up in grandma’s kitchen. Benny brought over his stereo system and his collection of cassettes and Darryl brought an entire ounce of weed. We started setting up early in the evening with the partiers expected to arrive around eight. I opened grandma’s liquor cabinet and we pulled out the colorful bottles with exotic names like Galiano, Frangelico, Amaretto, Vermouth and Gin. None of us were skilled bartenders. We knew about beer and a little bit about tequila but nothing about the bottles in front of us. We took turns taking swigs to see what we liked. Not familiar with the potency of liqueurs we were flying by the time the guests showed up.

I remember taking a swig of vermouth. It tasted like sour and stale wine. It was awful. Frangelico wasn’t bad. I didn’t know what a hazelnut was or a liqueur for that matter, but I found it sweet and delicious. Galiano tasted of cough syrup but Amaretto wasn’t bad, especially when mixed with the Frangelico. Hey! I was a mixologist. Frangelico-Amaretto Shooters! WOO-HOO!

By nine the room was spinning. Music was thumping loudly and the house was filled wall-to-wall with aggressively partying Catholic School teens. Clouds of cigarette and bong smoke hung thick in the air embedding their burnt-rope smell in grandma’s curtains, in grandma’s rugs, and in grandma’s upholstery. Plastic cups of beer, soda and cigarette butts collected on every surface and the party kept thumping on. In grandma’s dark bedrooms, among grandma’s tiny collection of saintly statuaries, young Catholic men received their first fumbling felatio from the talented gals of the Evangelical Christian Academy.

Then Mike showed up. Mike had recently been expelled from Catholic High for assaulting a teacher. Luckily it was a lay-teacher. If it had been one of the brothers he would have been expelled and damned to hell. It was the first time many of us had seen him since his expulsion. He showed up with a handgun. The music stopped and a fight broke out between Mike, Gregg and Jerry. Mike was drunk… and coked up… and sad… and he thought that shooting one of the jocks at the party might cheer him up. After an hour of heated banter, Gregg and Jerry were finally able to sober him up,  talk him down and get him to leave. Of course, I never witnessed any of this. I had passed out in a pool of my own vomit right in the middle of my grandmother’s fine satin duvet.

Early Saturday morning I woke up encrusted in dried puke. The light streaming through the curtains pieced my eyes like red-hot nails. It hurt to move. It hurt to see. It hurt to hear. It hurt to breathe. I just wanted to die. Dying would be easier. It would be the honorable thing to do. I dragged myself to the bathroom and took a long, warm shower. It helped a little. I took some aspirin from the medicine cabinet and downed four of them using the little dixie cups my grandma always had handy. I brushed my teeth, threw on some clean sweats and stepped out of the bedroom and into what used to be my grandma’s squeaky clean home.

Dear merciful God. Please strike me dead- I thought to myself. Every surface and every corner of every room was covered in filth. Between the fifth were bodies. Bodies of the recently passed out. Bodies of people I had never met. Who were all of these strangers? Some of them weren’t even teens. I swear, one guy looked to be in his thirties. A wave of nausea overtook me and I ran to the filthy front bathroom and puked into the filthy toilet wiping my mouth with a filthy towel which I didn’t notice was filthy. This only made me puke again.

I stepped into the kitchen. Having just wretched to the point of herniating myself I doubled-over when I saw grandma’s prized kitchen. Scrambled eggs. Somebody had cooked a dozen scrambled eggs! There were scrambled eggs on the walls. Scrambled eggs on the filthy, beer-and-ash stained floor. There were even scrambled eggs on the ceiling! I could feel an entirely new and profound wave of nausea grip me and soon my head was in the kitchen sing staring down at gallon or two of festering beer, and now vomit swirling over a drain clogged by scrambled eggs and cigarette butts.

At this point some of the dead littering grandma’s living room and the back bedrooms began to rise. As each one made their way into the kitchen and viewed the scrambled egg apocalypse they each wretched and spewed onto the linoleum.

About this time I heard the faint sound of an engine revving. The sound came from the front lawn. I ran to the front door and flung it open. The early morning sun hit my eyes with its painful, almost taunting brilliance. Through squinted eyelids I saw a brown car parked on the curb, its front wheels squealing, spinning and stuck in the grassy, muddy curb. The engine stopped and then I realized …THAT WAS MY CAR!  My poor, sweet, little Plymouth Horizon was so caked in mud it showed no hint of ever having been blue. The doors opened and out poured Gregg and Vince. They were both naked. Only wearing wet tighty-whitey briefs through which everything was clearly defined. They giggled like a couple of naughty third-graders and began to do somersaults and flips in the front yard. Another wave of nausea hit and I wretched a dry wretch. I could see neighbors coming out in their robes to retrieve their morning papers and witnessing this insanity playing out in my grandma’s front lawn. People would talk! Through clenched teeth I told them to get inside and give me back my keys.

Once inside they explained that while I was passed out they had nabbed the keys from my pocket to take my car out for a joy ride through the football fields down the street. In the middle of executing this really terrific turf-donut  they’d gotten stuck in a patch of mud. When they were finally able to pull out of the mud they headed to the back of a 24 hour convenience store to use the hose to clean up. You see, they had the windows down and both of them were now covered in mud as was the entire interior of my car. They stripped down behind the Circle K and hosed each other off. That was why they were in their underwear. This all made total sense to them as they were still high as kites.

“Okay,” I said, “then what’s the deal with all the scrambled eggs?”

Chuckling, they explained they wanted to surprise me with breakfast but things just got out of hand.

I was furious. Grandma was coming back the next afternoon and the house was an absolute disaster. It was all too much to deal with and the only time in my life where I considered becoming an arson. After the stragglers woke up and left, Gregg, Vince and I took a long and much-needed nap. When we awoke we called up a select group of The 12 Nice Guys and we went to work cleaning grandma’s house. We could not leave a single clue of what had transpired. I’m sure her neighbors would tell her we had a large and loud bacchanal but as long as everything was exactly as she left it, she wouldn’t be mad.

Over the next twelve hours we scrubbed, washed, scoured, and deodorized every inch of grandma’s house. When she got back everything was as she left it. Almost better.

“I understand you had some friends over for a little party on Friday.” she said grinning a knowing grin.

“Just a few friends from school” – I answered.

“I see. Which one puked in my azaleas?” she then asked sternly.

If there was night where I was suppose to die from stupidity, it would have been that evening. I learned quite a valuable lesson, though. You see, teens will do just about anything to be liked. They’ll drink a beer, smoke some weed, throw a party, huff some paint… all in the name of popularity. I realized as I was scooping the dried puke out of my grandmother’s potted azaleas that popularity just wasn’t worth it. I’m okay with being the underdog. It’s just easier.

Frangelico-Amaretto shooters anyone?

5 Responses to “It’s a Date, Martha!- Oatmeal Bars with Dates & Walnuts! – 121 eggs, 93 cups of sugar, 93 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 107 2/3 cups of flour used so far- 104 recipes to go!”

  1. Robert Says:

    André, you continue to write these amazing stories. You take me along these wonderful journeys. I loved this and you I felt all the emotions as if I were there. Thanks, again!


  2. Juli Says:

    Sofia and I thought these were actually really tasty! I plan on making them for a school snack at some point…
    And yeah..being popular is never worth selling your soul…being the underdog is okay by me too…

  3. Juli Says:

    PS- Sofia plans on taking care of her Uncles in their Golden years…so yeah…

  4. Mary Gemmell Says:

    Mine happened at an office Christmas party. We ran out of mix for the bourbon, so someone mixed me a boilermaker. I couldn’t ride the bus home, so someone drove me home to my parent’s house. I opened the door and fell out on my face – broker my glasses but didn’t feel a thing. The next morning I woke up to my father sitting at the foot of my bed with a Bloody Mary in his hand. I thought I would hurl when I saw it. Two days later it was Christmas and everyone who came to our house had a good laugh, because I was wearing my prescription sunglasses. There was a lot of pointing and snickering going on. Haven’t touched Bourbon or Beer since. That was in 1949.

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