Did It Feel Good to Mix Things Up? continued
The hands in question next measured sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar into the mixing bowl with the now-whipped butter. “So, how did you learn to do this, um, this baking thing anyway?” I asked.
“My mom taught both Monty and me. Well, at least she tried to teach Monty. He never cared enough to really learn. We were...eleven, maybe? Or twelve. Anyway, she told us that we would need to know how to do things for ourselves if they were important. We needed to learn to rely on ourselves sometimes, she said. That stuck with me, although I didn’t really understand what she was trying to say until a few years later. At the time it just meant that Monty and I could have cookies whenever we wanted them badly enough to spend the time and effort to make them.” Gomery smiled a nostalgic sort of half-smile and picked up the mixer again.
After blending the latest round of ingredients, he reached for the vanilla. “My mom also told us that one day we’d be able to impress girls with our skills in the kitchen.” Gomery kept his eyes down, focused on measuring out the liquid without spilling. His voice was flat. “I didn’t get the point of that right away either, seeing as how the only girl I cared about impressing at the time already had an army of professional cooks at her disposal.” He pulled an egg out of the carton, knocked it on the edge of the bowl, and dexterously cracked it into the mixture with one hand.
“How’s her prediction worked out for you since?” I asked carefully.
“I’m still running some experiments to test the hypothesis. Results are somewhat inconclusive so far. I’ll keep you posted.” He finally looked at me again, and some of his levity returned. “Although, it probably would help if I stopped trying to impress girls who already have boyfriends out of town.”
“Mmm. Probably,” I replied, trying to keep my voice airy. “But you never know. Maybe someday your mad kitchen skillz will make some hypothetical girl forget all about her make-believe boyfriend. Er, I mean, out-of-town boyfriend.”
“Was that ‘skillz’ with a z?” Gomery raised his eyebrows.
“Hypothetically.” I smiled.
“Well. That makes all the difference.” He beat the bowl’s contents together again, then stepped back and wiped his hands on a towel. I peered over. The mixture was finally starting to look recognizably like cookie dough, which further encouraged me.
Gomery selected a measuring cup from the stack, dipped it into the flour, and deftly leveled the top with the dull side of a butter knife before dumping its contents into the mixing bowl. Stepping aside with a little wave of his hand, he said, “Ms. Finley, would you care to do the honors?”
I stepped forward and gingerly placed one hand on the handle of the mixer and one on the spatula. The hesitation must have shown on my face, because my companion chuckled softly and said, “You’ll want to keep a firmer grip than that. Here, let me show you.” He stepped behind me, placing his left hand over mine on the mixer and wrapping his right hand around mine on the spatula. Not for the first time that night, I willed myself to concentrate on the task before me as his forearms brushed mine and I felt a sudden increase in warmth on my back from the heat radiating through his t-shirt. I inhaled slowly and caught a whiff of his own special Gomery scent mingling with the aroma of sugar and vanilla.
“Ready?” he asked. I nodded, the stubble on his cheek tickling my ear as my head moved. “Okay, here we go.” He lowered the mixer blades into the bowl, and I flicked the switch.
Instantly, a plume of flour puffed up in our faces. Coughing, I scrambled for the off switch and dropped the spatula into the bowl. I turned to find Gomery removing his glasses and inspecting the white powder coating them. Handing him a towel from the countertop, I tried to get my coughing under control, only to be overtaken by an attack of giggles at the sight of his flour-dusted eyebrows. Once finished de-flouring his glasses, Gomery handed the towel back to me, and I took the opportunity to hide my laughter while attempting to clean the mess from my own face. “What is it?” he asked, one side of his mouth quirking up in a smile.
“I. Just. Your eyebrows,” I managed to choke out. “You look like you just aged fifty years.” Foregoing the towel, Gomery used the hem of his t-shirt to clean the flour from his face. I quickly busied myself wiping the counter so that I wouldn’t be caught staring.
“You missed a spot,” he said, reaching over and gently swiping at a smudge of flour on my chin with his thumb. I smiled in thanks. “All right, let’s try that again, and don’t turn the mixer on so high at first.”
This time, I managed to avoid further coating everything in fine white powder, while Gomery guided me in scraping the sides of the bowl with the spatula. “That’s it,” he said when he deemed the process complete, removing the mixer blades and tapping them against the side of the bowl before handing one to me. Clinking the blade in his hand against the one in mine, my cookie-baking mentor whispered, “Cheers,” and we proceeded to lick the batter from our respective mixer blades in silence.
“Now what?” I asked when finished.
“Now we let the dough set for an hour or so.”
“What are we going to do while we wait?”
He winked, and his look said, “Well, are you impressed yet?”
cr: Hello Turkey Toe