Going Batty With Martha!- Dulce de Leche Bat Cookies! -133 eggs, 102 cups of sugar, 104 sticks of Butter, and 121 cups of flour used so far- 95 recipes to go!

November 12, 2010


Martha's Dulce de Leche Bat Cookies

André's Dulce de Leche Bat Cookies

Halloween is one of those holidays I just don’t get into. As a kid I loved it but as an adult it doesn’t do much for me. My partner, Dan and I headed out to Wichita to spend the Halloween weekend at our friends’ house. I kept joking it was an appropriate town in which to spend Halloween. After all, it has “Witch” in the name- Witchy-Taw.  Dan spends a lot of time rolling his eyes at bad jokes like that one. What can I say? We all have our crosses, don’t we?

Our friends’ young daughter’s birthday happens to fall during the Halloween season so they traditionally have a big party for their neighbors and friends. I, of course, would have to bring cookies. That’s the thing about having a cookie blog. People expect me to always have pockets full of cookies wherever I go like some sort of crazed pixie.

There were also going to be kids at the party so I’d have to make balloon sculptures. This is something I taught myself to do after I left the circus. People kind of expect clowns to make balloon animals. Honestly, I think it’s a type of  profiling. Would you expect every televangelist to know where to hire a rent boy or every recipient of a Country Music Award to thank Jesus and their Mama?

Our friends, Juli and Enrique also have a piano in their basement. That’s not a euphemism, although it sounds a heck-of-a-lot like one. A euphemism for what? I don’t know. Let your imagination go wild.

Juli’s Mom showed up on our first evening and I was requested to entertain the small gathering with a few tunes on the piano. Juli’s mom was delighted after the first few songs and secretly pulled Juli aside to let her know that she didn’t think I acted very gay at all. This is a bit of an archaic notion around how gay people want to be perceived. I think there are many straight people, gay people, too for that matter, who think it’s perfectly okay to be gay as long as you don’t act like you are.  Many well-meaning people have told me that I don’t seem gay or don’t display typical gay mannerisms. They think they are paying me a compliment. How is this a compliment?Would you go up to a Muslim and say, “You don’t seem Muslim at all. In fact, you could so pass for a Christian. Good for you!” ? – or- “Do you ever Muslim-Out when you get together with your Muslim friends?” – or, my favorite- “I have a friend who’s Muslim. I should introduce you two.”

All that aside- I showed up in Wichita with a decorative box of fresh-baked Dulce de Leche Bat Cookies, a shopping bag full of balloon sculpting supplies, and was  playing my fifth show tune in a row on the old upright. Doesn’t seem gay? Was the woman blind? If I were any more flaming I could have been Joan of Friggin’ Arc!

I’d more time describing the cookie, but it’s really wasn’t terribly note-worthy. It’s essentially a couple of caky chocolate cookies with a layer of Dulce de Leche straight out of the can layered in between. Our friend, Enrique who has a military background and grew up in a bi-lingual family told me a story about subtle and not-so-subtle differences in usage of the Spanish language throughout South America. While in Argentina, he sampled Dulce de Leche. It was the first time he’d heard it called that. In Mexico, it was always referred to as Cajéta. Enrique shouted that in his country, Dulce de Leche was called Cajéta. Mind you, Enrique was at a luncheon for an elderly Argentinian Rotary Club. The little old men and the little old ladies gasped when Enrique proclaimed his love of cajéta. Apparently that particular word in Argentina is slang for a woman’s nether-region.

So, if you’re in Mexico, order the Cajéta and in Argentina order the Dulce de Leche- and definitely try not to get the two confused.

Speaking of fun with languages makes me think of my time with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth®. RB&BB has two shows, the Red Unit and the Blue Unit, that go on the road for two years at a time. While one unit goes out on the big city tour its first year, the other unit is doing the smaller city circuit (AKA- the rodeo route) in its second year. I joined the Blue Unit in the end of their first year. It was a show that featured the Mongolian Circus performers and a singing trio  á la New Kids On The Block, called N-Motion. They were dreadful. This trio had been put together by the creative marketing geniuses at Feld Entertainment to capitalize on the popularity boy bands were having in the early nineties. The problem was, they weren’t any good, they sang terrible songs, they hated each other, and boy bands have nothing to do with the circus! When I arrived, it was obvious  the show would need to be reworked and re-choreographed to eliminate this terrible trio altogether. Management’s idea was to do it covertly so the trio wouldn’t get wind of what was going on.

There were 350 people in the show. How do you rehearse 350 people covertly? The answer was to send the trio out on fake press interviews. Ringling actually paid actors to pretend to interview the trio for hours while the entire show was being re-staged to eliminate their acts. It got messy towards the end, though. One of the guys in N-Motion got wind of what was happening and having just turned the legal drinking age, decided to spend the remaining days of his circus career drunk off his ass. N-Motion began performing as a duet,  while the crew tried to sober up their third voice.  Finally N-Motion was replaced by our ringmaster singing covers of Huey Lewis and The News songs. N-Motion was never heard from again. A tiny flash in a tiny pan.

While all of this was going on, I got to meet the members of the Mongolian circus. First of all, most of the performers were in fact, not from Mongolia. There were contortionists from Thailand,  Wu Shu Ninjas from China, and jugglers from Japan. Among the true Mongolians was a strong-man act with many acrobats. He’d stand as the supportive anchor of  almost 1500 lbs of  metal weights and elaborately stacked acrobats in his act.  There was also  a troupe of Cossack horseback riders. The head of the Cossack riders, like most true Cossacks,  was a direct descendent of Genghis Khan. He was also a notorious cigarette moocher but who’s going to deny a direct descendent of Genghis Khan from feeding his nicotine addiction? Seriously, China built a wall, people.

One of the Mongolian acrobats was a lovely lady in her twenties with a small boy around seven years old. She was desperate to learn as much English as she could while in the States and by the time I met her, she had already spent a year touring the U.S.. Her son’s name was Inkta. It is pronounced exactly as it is spelled- INK-TA. Months earlier she had asked the clowns for a more American name for her son. Inkta just sounded too foreign to her. Apparently no one told her to never ask the clowns for help with anything. After all, the clowns were responsible for teaching the Wu Shu Ninjas to say, “Go Slow Primrose!” whenever they saw something they liked, thinking they had mastered American slang.

This explained why this sweet little Mongolian lady asked me if I had met her son, Sphincter.

The clowns had told her that it was common in America to name your eldest son, Sphincter. It also sounded a bit like Inkta so she was convinced it was the perfect American name for her son. This poor woman went around for months talking to everyone about how proud she was of her Sphincter’s achievements. Her Sphincter did so well in school. You wouldn’t believe what her Sphincter did the other day. She would proudly proclaim that her Sphincter may be small but scrappy.  I’m sure people wanted to explain that she’d been fooled, fallen prey to notorious clown alley antics, but it was just too damn funny. Especially when you’d witness people who weren’t in on the joke hearing this woman’s seemingly random rants about her Sphincter.

I distinctly remember a lady news reporter interviewing me and another clown for a morning news show when this lady popped out and asked her if anyone wanted to film her Sphincter doing some trapeze work.

What made this story even more ironic is that Inkta loved to play jokes on everyone in the circus. Well, one joke really. When the cast or crew were showering, he’d wait till their eyes were filled with soap and then turn the faucet to the hottest setting scalding the victim and burning their eyes with soap. He thought this was hysterical. He’d spend most of his day performing this one cruel joke. Despite the tastelessness of his nickname, he was in fact, a little asshole.

I hope someone set the record straight before they returned to Mongolia. Inkta would be about 25 years old now. I’d hate to think he goes around introducing himself as Sphincter still. I wonder if her Mom regales the people of her village with tales of how her Sphincter did at University.

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