Friday, October 23, 2009
We have had a full week. My cousin, Brigitte, visited for three days over the weekend. Brigitte is my age (my elder by four months) and lives in Breda, The Netherlands. We tried, years ago, to be pen pals, but because I really stunk at writing back (probably intimidated by her sophisticated European handwriting), our friendship didn't really take off until the advent of e-mail. Then I visited her for two weeks right after college, when she was living in Amsterdam, and she squired me around the country and made fun of the way I pronounced brootje and served me lots of lemon tea and our friendship was cemented. Since then, we have seen each other several times, including the trip she made all the way across the Atlantic to watch me marry Dean nine years ago. I think she came all that way because Dean once made her favorite food, fluffy American pancakes, when she visited me in D.C., even though she doesn't remember him doing it.
Brigitte is a divorce mediator and family lawyer and goes to an international conference every year that she always manages to arrange to land her somewhere near her relatives. This year the conference was in Minneapolis, so she stopped in Grand Rapids and we got to see her. We had a great time. We introduced her to Wii for the first time and opened her eyes to a number of American products that she found endlessly amusing. Her favorite was when I said I was going to make myself a caramel apple and, instead of pulling out milk and brown sugar and stirring vigorously over the stove top as she was expecting, I pulled out a nice round patty of caramel and proceeded to wrap my Honeycrisp, microwave for thirty seconds, and TADA! I had to reiterate to her that we Americans do NOT wait for our obesity-causing treats. We want them, and we want them RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND. Next I introduced her to Betty Crocker Warm Delights. Open the package, add water, microwave for one minute and, voila, you have a freshly baked, hot and fudgy molten chocolate cake. How fabulous is the name Warm Delights? And is it not delightful to live in a country where you can have a chocolate cake in your hands in under a minute? Being an American is FANTASTIC.