by Tina Stone
The very first time I knew this man was a keeper...
|It was a disaster and nothing anyone could say or do would ever make it OK. At least, that was how I was feeling.
It was only a few days before Easter and I had driven the six hours to come to visit him and spend a long weekend with him. Fred has a wicked sweet tooth, and I casually had mentioned I'd been making homemade candies for many years. Wanting to impress this guy I really liked, I made detailed plans to make my most impressive candies for him.
The day I arrived we made it a fun trip to go shopping for all the goodies I could need to make divinity, pecan brittle, salt-water taffy, spicy cinnamon peanut brittle, robin's nests, and turtle candies. With Fred at my side, I learned it took twice as long to shop. He wanted to look at everything. It took me almost twenty minutes alone to get him out of the Easter Candy aisle, and he left but only after putting two bags of candy in the basket. He said, so we could snack on the candy while I was making candy. Male logic there I suppose. Besides, he pointed out I wasn't making jelly beans or peanut butter cups so no problem, right?
Back at the house, he put on a pot of coffee and settled in at the kitchen table. He declared himself my helper if I needed it. I assured him I had everything under control. As I began making the salt-water taffy, we talked. We laughed and time ticked by fast. I showed him how to cut the taffy when it was ready and to wrap it in small squares of plastic wrap. He was like a kid! I moved on making the easy robbin nests and turtle candies because the only thing I had to do was nuke the chocolate in the microwave then it was just a matter of coating the potato shoestrings and forming nests and covering pecans and caramels with chocolate for the turtles. I let Fred fill the nests with a bright yellow marshmallow chick in each. He teased me and said I should put a gummy worm in the nest for the chicks to nibble on. Guy humor.
He suggested the peanut brittle next. So, I fired up my candy pot and while I did most of the steps, I put him to work unwrapping the fire hot jolly ranchers I'd purchased. At just the right time, when the sugar and syrup were in the very first stages of melting, I added the jolly ranchers and let them melt into the sugars and then added the rest of my ingredients and waited until the right time to add peanuts. As it all came together I poured the lava hot candy into the waiting cake pans and I let Fred help me smooth and stretch it out.
While the peanut brittle was cooling, I decided to go ahead and make the divinity and as it was getting really late, We would make the rest of the candy the next day. When the divinity was done we cleaned up and went to bed.
Fred wakes me up at 4 am. "Honey, you think we can taste that peanut brittle now?"
"It isn't even morning yet."
"Please baby, I'll make us a pot of coffee and some breakfast."
"Ok, I'll get up," I said, telling myself this was just a weird fluke. Surely it wasn't his habit to get up in the middle of the night for candy and breakfast.
We enter the kitchen and he quickly puts on a pot of coffee and heads straight to one of the pans of peanut brittle. I hand him a butter knife and tell him just ease it up under the candy and then just break a piece off. He sits down, all smiles and licking his lips. Does the man really love candy that much, I wondered? He does as I instructed, or at least he tries. The knife does not slide up under the candy as it should have.
"Maybe your not pushing it hard enough," I tell him. "The trick is to work the knife under an edge, then as you pry it gently, it loosens from the pan." He tries several times with no luck. I take the knife and try to do it myself. But no. No matter how I angle the knife or push, it doesn't slide under the candy. Something is definitely not right. I bang the pan on the counter as hard as I dare, trying to knock I lose. The candy was not budging. Then I realize my mistake. I had forgotten to liberally butter the pans before I poured the candy into the pans.
I was completely mortified! It was such a stupid mistake and after all my talk about how I could make such yummy candies...and all I had made was a mess! I burst into tears of frustration and exasperation. Fred, completely confused asked what was wrong. I explained how I had forgotten to put butter on the pans and how now, the candy and probably the pans were completely ruined.
He didn't hug me or baby me, for that I am very glad. It would have made it much worse. He simply said we had plenty of other candy and for me not to worry about it. I wanted to be alone for a few minutes to get myself composed so I told him I was going to take my shower. I took my time and actually stretched my shower to 30 minutes. Finally, I decided I had to go face him again.
I reluctantly walk back into the kitchen and stop and stare. There is Fred, with a screwdriver and hammer...litterally chizzling out the candy from the pan! He looks up with a mouth full of candy and says, "Baby this stuff is delicious!!"
That very moment, with his mouth full of candy as he looked up at me, my heart did that weird little butterfly flutter and I knew, any man who went to that much trouble to taste anything I made, was worth keeping. I married him three months later.