My wife likes to make pancakes. Swedish. Buttermilk. Blueberry. Lumpy. Minimally whisked. Thin. Whatever. Always lovingly served with a small ramekin of heated Grade B maple syrup. She would never willingly serve cold syrup… not even to her worst enemies.
She also likes not having to worry about making drips while she cooks. Or crumbs while she eats. Fresh batter dashes on the counter. Nibbled toast crumbs in silverware drawers. Rorschachs of honey and syrup and jelly on anything flat or vertical. Blobs of something on oven knobs. Floury handprints on the cabinets and refrigerator door. She is tirelessly working to prove that life is being lived by real people in our home. And the truth is, in spite of my lifelong fear of crumbs (and the sinking feeling that comes with turning a mysteriously sticky oven knob) part of me celebrates her ability to find new places to make them. Crumbs. But that drawer is so low? And never opened. Good lord…there weren’t even that many crumbs in the whole loaf. How do you even make dried fruit crumbs?
I was raised by people who fanatically believe no such evidence of human existence should exist for paleoanthropologists to unearth. Painting on cave walls might have been okay if it were construed as sprucing up the joint, but none of those messy hand prints and no piles of bones or sooty remains in the corner. We’re not barbarians. It’s like living a life of crime every minute of your life. Leave no traces. Ever. You’ll never be caught that way.
Rather than worrying about how to ungum a refrigerator handle or how to chisel off desiccated pasta-sauce Pollacks from inside the microwave, don’t leave any clues of having lived (or eaten) in the first place. Lucky for the Leakeys early hominids didn’t evolve from my family.
If you never spill pancake batter on the counter, you never find inadvertent pancake batter faces. Lemonade out of lemons? Guilty as charged. Inadvertent Faces has become an ongoing game for me and my daughter. The rub being, of course, that inadvertence has to happen unintentionally. Sneakily arranging the prune shards in your oatmeal to make a smiley face is a different game. Funny—depending on how the morning is going otherwise—but it’s not the same as Inadvertent Faces.
Here is a Funny On-Purpose Food Face from a cafe in Lucca:
Here is an Inadvertent Face on a sidewalk in Brooklyn:
The white face above is different than the face below.
The pink face is an example of Found-Faces-That-Were-Always-Faces-in-the-First-Place. Which is also a great game. But it’s entirely different. Look it up. I don’t make the rules. Or maybe I do. Someone has to. Usually it’s my daughter.
The face below is another example of Found-Faces-That-Were-Always-Faces-in-the-First-Place:
I’m pretty sure my daughter knows the difference. Inadvertent faces are accidents. Fortuitous wrong turns. Funny-On-Purpose-Food-Faces and Found-Faces-That-Were-Always-Faces-in-the-First-Place are both top-notch fun. But they are definitely not Inadvertent Faces. Different rules. Different games.
Why do I care? Because pretending to be lost is different than actually being lost. There’s a different energy and intensity. Pretend lost is great. I much prefer it to real lost. I heartily endorse pretending to be lost. But you never learn as much about yourself when you secretly know where you are. It’s the truly not knowing which forces you to open your lowest, most impractical drawers and peer inside them to see what horrible crumbs have crept inside.