Monday, July 28, 2008

Milk in the batter!

"Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! Stir it! Make it! Mix it! Bake it!"

In the children's book (and animation) "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak, a young boy tumbles headlong out of his bed in a dream and lands in a giant bowl of cake mix. Three gigantic chefs, identical triplet clones of Oliver Hardy, sieze the bowl and have at it with wooden spoons while they chant and stir. "Milk in the batter!" The poor kid Mickey gets covered in batter and hauled off to the oven. Mickey escapes later, but yesterday when I sat down with my son and watched the cartoon version of the book from 1970, I suddenly recalled seeing the same show myself on TV as a girl about my son's age. I remembered my panicked empathy for poor Mickey then -- it sure looked like a nightmare to me! -- help! Somebody save that naked little boy!

My kid thinks it's funny, in that way one laughs at something that scares you just a little, but is too interesting to look away from. And actually that's how I'm feeling about this week -- "Milk in the batter!" Ah! Ah! Help, I'm drowning in sticky cake mix! In "a cesspool of detail" as I put it to someone earlier this evening. Too many events and tasks in the works this week. And the roaring chefs' refrain stuck in my head along with all that anxiety -- "Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter!"

I have to find some mechanism for escape, like Mickey, who pops out of the oven and yells "I'm not the milk and the milk's not me! God bless milk and God bless ME!!"

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