I was a Proverbial Damsel in Distress. And Then…

I like to pride myself on being fairly independent. I’ve taken care of myself for a long time. I’ve lived by myself in New York City for awhile. When problems arise, I usually freak out (remember my father’s infamous comment at my cousin’s wedding about how I will have to be tackled and sedated at my own??), but I always work it out.

Yesterday I was happily painting some furniture (I salvaged a medicine cabinet one of my neighbors was throwing out…and I have two chairs from Ikea that I REALLY wanted in red…but they didn’t *have* any in red and I had to settle for plain ol‘ wood and I have always sort of coveted red chairs) when it started raining outside. A quick, heavy summer storm. I was planning to have dinner with a friend and I was supposed to leave soon, so I was thinking about calling him to say that I would be a little late because I wanted to wait until the rain subsided…when I looked down at the newspaper under the medicine cabinet and thought, “Why is that all wet?”

I looked behind me and water was pouring in through under the back door. Ultimately, half of my apartment was covered by several inches of water…and it only got worse the longer I stood there and thought, “What do I do? What do I do?” The ONE thing my landlady said to me when I moved in was that I had to be sure to clear the drain of leaves and the like…so I thought, “Oh no! The leaves!” and when I looked out the back window, I saw waist-high water. Since my apartment was already leaking, I opened the door and tried to clear off the drain…but there was nothing there. And that’s when I felt completely useless.

I can cook for myself. I can clean. I can sew when I have to. I’ve maintained my own household. But when something like this happens, I have no idea what to do. I called my landlady’s daughter who lives upstairs…and she said that there was a party for one of the neighbors and they were all out of pocket. Instead, they sent over the son of one of my neighbors — this poor 16-year-old kid who ended up with his arm in the drain up to his elbow, scooping out sludge.

I also called one of my classmates, a relatively new Brooklynite who I ran into at the Mermaid Parade last weekend. By the time he got to my apartment, most of the water was gone…but, bless his heart, he mopped and then carried what he estimated to be 60 pounds of wet towels to my laundromat.

It’s frustrating to me that I am incapable to taking care of a situation like that. But! I am very lucky that I had such nice people around to help me out. So…I did the one thing that I *can* do and I promised them pie. It’s seasonally appropriate — I’ll have apple pie for my neighbors at their Fourth of July BBQ next weekend.

My classmate said he wasn’t picky about the pie…but he mentioned that his mother had just made a cherry pie and that made him feel nostalgic or some such and so I feel like I can’t *not* make him cherry pie now. I’ve never actually *made* cherry pie before…and wasn’t even sure what kind of cherries you use…but you can get frozen dark sweet cherries from FreshDirect…so even if my local grocery store fails me, I can *still* make cherry pie.

Cherry pie is also exciting because you can do a lattice crust…and I’ve never done one of those before. I don’t even have the rolly implement that you use to make one. But my buddy in the Pie book swears that lattices are easier than they look…so I trust him. (Ooh — and perhaps I can finally learn how to tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue??)

Although…there’s a lot of pressure here to make a good pie. It’s kind of like with Martha — I go running my mouth about how baking is a huge part of my life and how I do it all the time, etc., etc…but then I have to put my money where my mouth is…and disaster ensues (hello, Top Ten Baking Crises) and then I look like a big, fat liar and people have to be nice out of fear of making me freak out even more. It’s funny — I’m reading Julia Child’s “My Life in France” book and *she* said that she NEVER apologized for anything — even when she was starting out and made horrible stuff — because otherwise the person eating it feels obligated to say nice things to you to make you feel better…and that isn’t really fair to them because they have to eat something horrible AND stroke your ego.

But it would just be such a shame to not, you know, knock their socks off on the first go-round with this pie. So…I will channel The Secret or some such and hopefully my first lattice-topped cherry pie will be a glorious triumph.


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