Anyone for a cookie, anyone like one from Grandma B.B.Betty’s cherry red cookie jar. Be careful though, some cookies are not so sweet as they seem!
I’ve always loved the song, The old Dope Pedlar, by Tom Lehrer, with it dark overtones, and grim satirical humour so this, in part, is my tribute to the great man himself. Curiously enough in his later years he expressed regret at writing this song as he stated that
the lyrics seemed funny at the time; but today seem “…almost chilling.”
All I can say is I agree, hence the story below
Who is the Fred based on by the way?
On so many people who, just like Fred, never quite make it in life, never quite fit in, and who are always live on the outside of life, desperately looking in.
They need our warmth and comfort, please help them if you can
Grandma B.B.Betty’s cookie jar
By Chris Wilson
Hello, I’m new to the group. Anyone here who doesn’t like cookies? No, I thought not. My name’s Fred by the way, Fred Backus, aged 26, single, never had a proper friend, let alone a girlfriend, and I’m a cookie-holic.
I never used to be, and never wanted to be such a creature, but then I met Grandma. Grandma who, oh yes, I forgot to tell you. Just Grandma B. B. Betty, or Boston’s Brownstone Betty, as some rather rudely call her. A special lady, not really, but you see she has these double chocolate chip cookies. That’s right, you heard me cookies, just cookies, but boy oh boy do they drive you wild.
I could eat one right now, one of Grandma’s cookies, but my doctor says that cookies are bad for me. Grandma knows best though, so if any anyone sees my Grandma, my so very special Grandma, please tell how much I love her, her cookies, and her oh so pretty bright red jar.
I so want Grandma, I so want her cookies, and I so love her dog, it’s bright green cart, and her cherry red cookie box and jar!
Betty Nelson, unmarried, childless, yet still sharp as a pin at the age of seventy, smiled thoughtfully as she pulled out the latest batch of hazelnut and double chocolate chip cookies from her oven. Golden brown, and smelling so sweet, and resting on their pale cream bed of parchment paper, they slid effortlessly onto her mothers old wire cooling rack that, like some ancient yet faithful servant, lay ready and waiting on the side.
“Baa Baa Betty, have you any dough
Yes Sir, Yes Sir, lined up in a row
One for the master, and one for the dame
And one for the little boy who lives down the lane”
Betty sang, as she remembered her mother’s home kitchen cookery classes, The words changed slightly as every new customer came to her and her mother, but dough was always plentiful, and there was always a ready supply of little boys or girls down the lane. What hadn’t changed were the special instructions that had been passed down to her, as they stood cooking side by side.
“Not too much, Betty, just ¼ ounce of bud to ½ cup of butter. Melt the butter, add the buds, and simmer until nice and bubbly. Drain of the mix through a sieve, push it through thoroughly, and then it’s all yours. But be careful of how you use it, as even a little bit can go a very long way”
A good cook was her mother, and a very wise woman. No money, no cards, no paperwork, and no mention of what went into the butter, they were her mother’s guiding principles, just that and a bit of symbiotic comfort on the side. Cookies out, happiness, and pain relief out, and selected goods in lieu of payment coming back in. There was nothing like a bit of bartering and helping others in the community, Betty thought to herself, as she mentally reviewed today’s orders, and as her mother had often reminded her, “Those that don’t know, don’t need to know. The cookies will do the talking for you, so hold your tongue little lady. Do that, and all will be well.”
Betty looked at her watch, and began to prepare for her daily outing. Just a daft old woman going out for a walk with her dog. A lovely little Boston Terrier called Cindica, with a bright green dog cart, a post red cardboard box of cookies for the children, and a cherry red porcelain jar of double chocolate dreams. What a fine sight, what a shinning example of care for the elderly within the community, and, for Betty, what a bright little reminder of a trip to London, and of happy days long ago.
Mr Simmons, the baker, Miss Fitzgerald, the local dame, and of course the lad who would be waiting for her on the corner of 7th Street and Carroll Avenue. A quiet run today, and a run with a batch of somewhat gentler cookies, but one which, timed to hit the end of school time, should reap potential long term rewards. She opened her front door, slipped on Cindica’s harness, and gave her load one final check for the day.
A full strength batch for the baker, so as to ease his numbed fingers and tingling pain, caused by Multiple Sclerosis. A fun batch for the beautiful dame, and finally a special pack for the lad on the corner. He had to be watched carefully, that one. He was beginning to get a bit too needy, and a bit talkative, hence the new almost placebo pack she had prepared for him.
Maybe it was time for a route change, she thought to herself, as the sun spun merrily around her cookie jar, or to adjust her method of delivery. As if it was a bad weather day, for example, when, after one or two discrete phone calls, her customers picked up their orders from her home. Yet she was probably safe enough, for the moment anyway, as, like some pied piper on the her beloved brownstone streets of Brooklyn, everyone in the neighborhood loved her cookies and her sweet little Cindica, and everyone happily danced to her tune.
Where do I see her, oh, just by a church on 7TH Avenue. She’s just an old lady, a harmless old orange coated silver haired old lady, and she won’t take any money, although I’ve seen things given to her in return. She calls her dog Cindy or Cindica. It’s a gorgeous little Boston terrier, and the cart the dog pulls is like a bright green apple that you want to bite into, after first polishing it in your hand.
Sorry, what’s that?
What’s in the cookies?
Oh, I don’t know, you’d have to ask Grandma. All I know is that the cookies are still warm when I get them, they have a lovely sweet smell, and they make me feel so happy and calm inside.
How often do I see her?
Most days, unless it’s raining, or if there is a lot of snow. I don’t see her then, but I still see people like Ms Fitzgerald walking home with what looks like a batch of cookies by her side. I like Ms Fitzgerald by the way, she’s my next door neighbour and she’s beautiful, but just like the baker who sometimes speaks to her; she doesn’t seem to see me, and she certainly doesn’t know his name. It’s weird really, it’s as though they live in a special kind of glass house. It all seems so lovely and warm inside, as they all chat away so happily, but I’m always on the outside, stuck on the outside and only looking in.
That’s my whole life really, so lonely on the outside, and forever looking in. My therapist says I’ll find someone, one day, but what if she’s on the inside talking to somebody. I’ve no key, I can’t see a doorway, so how will she know I’m there
Still, it’s not so bad, as Grandma and Cindy are always pleased to see me. I make a fuss of Cindy, Grandma gives me a pack of cookies, and I give her a little shopping in return. Not much shopping, she won’t hear of it, just a few things that come in handy for her, and she always thanks me before she goes on her way.
Will I see her today?
I don’t know, I’ve not seen her recently, and I miss her. When I last saw her I asked her if she would like to have some tea with me. She said no, but she was very nice about it, and she still smiled. Do you think she might be thinking about me, and if so do you think she might be happy if I were to walk by her side?
Betty, now in her kitchen opened the package of home grown spinach that the baker, a keen greenhouse gardener, had given her. He supplied her with spinach, and she supplied the cookies, yet as she inspected the contents of the package, she couldn’t help but smile
Bloody funny spinach, she thought to herself, as she commenced her regular task of de-budding, but great spinach when it came to cookie butter, with a little bit of chocolate on the side. She stroked one of the leaves that lay before her. Seven broad yet tooth edged leaves per stalk stared back at her, and she thought of the day’s trading, and of the various deals that she had done.
Her mother would have been proud of her, and looking at her restocked cupboards, it was if her mother was standing by her side. Tomorrow another batch of customers would place their orders, and tomorrow another batch of school kids would surge around her. No charge for them mind you, although they always gave her some dog food for Cindy. There was no need to charge them, they were the customers of the future. They would be her new happy customers that she would rely on for her groceries, and maybe for her fresh spinach, once her current regulars had moved on or died.
Yet such times were in the future, and her cookie mix needed some very special butter. Smiling and humming away to herself merrily, she prepared the pan for the butter and spinach, but before doing so, she loaded up her C.D player, so as to play her favorite song, The Old Dope Peddler by Tom Lehrer. As it began to play she sang along with it, albeit with her very own special words.
When the sunny days are calling
Comes a Grandma ev’ryone knows
It’s the old cookie peddler
Spreading Joy wherever she goes
Every fine day you will find her
Around the neighborhood
It’s the old Cookie peddler
Doing well by doing good
She gives the kids free samples
Because she knows too well
That today’s young innocent faces
Will be tomorrow’s clientele
Here’s a cure for all your troubles
Here’s an end to all distress
It’s the old cookie peddler
With her chocolate cookie-ness
“ Hi Mum.” She whispered at the frying pan, as the butter sizzled, and the spinach buds began bubbling. “Haven’t I been a good girl today, and haven’t I done you proud!
Hi, that’s right, Fred’s the name, and …. yes…. I’m the cookie-holic. What’s that, the group is for recovering alcoholics. I know that, but I thought maybe…. Right, it’s only for… I see… cookie-holic’s, if there are any, meet elsewhere. Any idea where… no… I thought not… well, thank you for your time and… oh goodbye…. good bye… good…….bye
Hello, do you have anyone in the group who doesn’t like cookies? No, I thought not. My name’s Fred by the way, Fred Backus, aged 26, single, never had a friend really, let alone a girlfriend, and I’m a cookie-holic
Can you help me find my Grandma?
I so want her cookies, and I so love her dog Cindica, its bright green cart, her post red cardboard box and that cherry red porcelain jar!
Hello…. Are you still there…. Hello…..can anyone hear me… Hello…. Hello…?