That’s Just Plain Nuts, Martha! Wholemeal-Almond Biscuits! -249 eggs, 189 1/2 cups of sugar, 192 1/2 sticks of Butter, and 239 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 27 recipes to go!

October 29, 2011

Martha's Wholemeal-Almond Biscuits

André's Wholemeal-Almond Biscuits

A dense, flavorless, sandy disc of butter, flour and ground almonds is the best way to describe the latest cookie recipe I’ve shlepped my way through. Martha’s Wholemeal-Almond Biscuits are a barely-sweet cracker intended to be served with flavored cheeses or bits of fruit. That said, the question is why are they so damn big? My partner, Dan raised a good point while sampling these. He referred to them as being quite a commitment. Crackers, in my opinion should be small, delivering just a bite of deliciousness. These biscuits, however, have a two-and-a-half inch diameter and because of their size, the recipe only yields fifteen discs.

They’re fairly easy to make. All of the ingredients are given a whirr in a food processor and then chilled till firm. Once the dough is firm enough to be rolled out, the discs are cut and baked until golden. After they’ve cooled completely, you can enjoy every disappointing bite. I made a honey-and-cream cheese spread, thinking that might be a good pairing for the cookie. It wasn’t. At that point I photographed them for my records and deposited them in the trash can so they can be enjoyed by the rats at the nearest landfill.

Voila! If you’d like to bake up a big batch of regret, give Martha’s Wholemeal-Almond Biscuits a try.

I know I haven’t posted much this month and I apologize. I haven’t lost my will to get through this challenge. I haven’t baked my way to a place to apathy. I haven’t become resentful of the time and energy it takes to push my way through these stories. I have, however, taken an extended vacation recently and haven’t had the time to type out a post. I took the last few weeks to visit my family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana followed by a work conference in Dallas, Texas. The trip home proved to be transformative for me in many ways.

When I was sixteen, I left my parents’ home. I remember the day perfectly. It was a Wednesday. I woke up and began to get ready for school. While I was in the shower, a schoolmate, a young freshman who lived down the block from me called the house. He wasn’t feeling well and wanted to let me know he didn’t need a ride to school that day. I had been offering him rides to school because I liked the company during the twenty-minute commute in the morning. My dad received the message. He was infuriated and  burst into the bathroom while I was drying off. He pushed me against the wall and began punching the hell out of me. He was yelling at the top of his lungs about how boys don’t give rides to school to other boys. He called me disgusting and a queer. He told me to get out of his house. I didn’t understand the reasons behind this sudden violent outburst but dad’s suspicions had been eating away at him for a while and this phone call was all he needed to send him over the edge.

Shaking and bleeding, I grabbed armfuls of clothes and threw them into my little Plymouth Horizon. Mom had already left for work that morning and my sisters, accustomed to these frequent violent outbursts sat and quietly watched this play out from the breakfast table. I never stayed in my parents’ house after that. I went to live with my grandmother for a time, then my cousin and finally got my own apartment.

I didn’t understand. I hadn’t admitted to anyone that I thought I might be gay. I hadn’t had a consensual physical relationship with any boy, although I’d fooled around with plenty of girls. This was the first time I realized my father suspected I was gay and what the consequences would be if I were to ever come out.

He continued to kick, punch, slap, scratch and yell as I grabbed my keys. Backing out of the driveway, he called out to me. “If you set foot in this house again, I’ll shoot you!” This was a plausible threat. Dad kept a shotgun in a pink leather case in the closet of his bedroom and threatened to pull it out on more than one occasion.

I drove to school, my face flush with anger. I pulled over in the parking lot of a golf course a few blocks from school and allowed myself to release a series of painful shrieks. I choked on the blood filling my mouth from my torn lips and cheeks. Tears poured out of me like a spigot. There came a tap at the window. It was a police officer who’d seen me recklessly pull into the gravel lot. I rolled down the window and he paused to look at my red and bruised face. He saw the tears. “Is everything okay?” he asked. “Not really,” I answered. “I’m having a really bad morning.” The policeman smiled. “Looks like it,” he replied. “Are you going to be alright?” I thought about his question. I didn’t really know how to answer. At the moment I wanted to die just a bit, maybe for thirty-minutes. Yes, a thirty-minute death would be nice. “I’ll be fine,” I told the officer. “I just need to put myself together.” The officer nodded warmly and wished me luck.

Honestly, I’ve spent a majority of my adult life struggling with that thought. “Putting myself back together,” turned into a life-long battle. I spent many, many years in a state of anger and resentment. I resented my family. I resented my home. I resented my father’s frequent cruelties. I resented my mother’s frozen state of helplessness, my sisters’ apathy. I resented my school’s turning a blind eye to my bruises, nervous ticks and precarious mental state.

This resentment took its toll. It cost me many years of potential happiness and success. It cost me friendships and relationships and for a long time I blamed everyone around me for my unhappiness, all the while clinging to my role as a victim. I went through my twenties and my thirties not progressing emotionally past that angry, sad kid  still sobbing in the parking lot at the golf course. I wrapped myself in a blanket of self-pity that tainted every potentially joyous moment I experienced. I hid behind a façade of cynical wit and sarcasm. Meanwhile the world continued to spin. The people around me grew up and moved on with their lives. My sisters became mothers and wives. My parents retired and built a large home filled with memories and chihuahuas.  I missed all of it, comfortably cocooned in my anger and resentment.

Over the years, my visits home have been brief and infrequent  followed by a couple of months of depression and pitiful therapy sessions. This last trip was different, though. I came to Baton Rouge for the first time with my partner and soon to be husband, Dan. My parents did something unexpected. They threw us an engagement party. Fifty friends and family members gathered in my parents’ home and enjoyed the impressive spread of various meats and cheeses and bowls of my dad’s delicious jambalaya. Each friend, each family member found a moment that evening to pull me aside to say they’d never seen me so happy.

I hadn’t realized that all the anger and resentment I’d carried for so long wasn’t hidden as well as I thought it was. People could tell that for years just under my repartee was a deep-rooted bitterness.

My father, the featured player in the ensemble of my anger then did something remarkable. His house filled with my quirky, funny friends, an eclectic mix of democrats, republicans, bisexuals, actors, musicians, teachers, unitarians, foreigners, former drug-addicts and lesbians, he raised his glass and made a toast. He thanked everyone for being there. He told the crowd he’d never seen me so happy and thanked Dan for making that possible. He then gave Dan a hug.

At that moment, my twenty-seven year old heart-weight lifted a bit. The heavy resentment and anger dissipated and floated away. Even though my father has never said, “I’m sorry,” he did me one better. He changed. In return, I forgave.

He’s still an aggravating and opinionated bastard but he has a conscience and a soul that I never gave him credit for.

So, I can move forward a little more freely now. I can let go of a bit of that anger and resentment. I can accept and give love a little more freely now without suspicion of motives or fear of being hurt. I can move beyond the parking lot at the golf course and into a world I’ve not explored. Best of all, I get to explore it with someone I love and who loves me.

Too much is sacrificed on the altar of anger. I think I’ve sacrificed enough. It’s time to offer something better. Maybe cookies?

Not these Wholemeal-Almond Biscuits, though.


8 Responses to “That’s Just Plain Nuts, Martha! Wholemeal-Almond Biscuits! -249 eggs, 189 1/2 cups of sugar, 192 1/2 sticks of Butter, and 239 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 27 recipes to go!”

  1. Rachael Says:

    Curse you for making me cry in the morning!

  2. Thomas Pluck Says:

    Same here, Andre… very happy for you, I’ve read of your problems with your father here and very happy to see some redemption for him in your life.

  3. myra zirkle Says:

    Wow, Andre! This is amazing. I don’t know what turned your dad so completely around, but I’m glad it happened at a time when you and Dan can both enjoy some relief from the earlier, hate-filled (translate: scared spitless) attitudes. Congratulations on being able to find some forgiveness, yourself. It’s something a lot of people wouldn’t have been able to do.

  4. sherry chenevert Says:

    I love you Andre’ and I think that you are a wonderful precious soul and I am so glad that your dad has come around. I am blessed because you are in my life.God Bless you and Dan.

  5. Chelsea Says:

    Good News!! I’m so happy for you!

  6. Carol Says:

    God bless you and Dan and your life together. I’m so thankful for some release from the anger. What a tragedy to have suffered so much for who God made you. Know that you’re loved and respected.

  7. Alyse duBroc Landry Says:

    I am so sorry I missed this. I love you and Dan. I can’t wait to celebrate you in April. I miss you bro.

  8. Cecilia Says:

    It was a nice party and I am glad I went. I am glad I was a witness to the toast your dad made because it seemed really heartfelt. You have been through so much in your life and I am glad to have been able to meet Dan and see your diverse collection of friends!! I wish you the best always, Love You, Cecilia

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