Eat Your Milk, Drink Your Cake

August 2008

Shannon Kulp (left) and I (right) were born on the same day, just one month apart, and we were immediate playmates once my family moved to the neighborhood.  I was a wild schemer and dreamer, and Shannon was the faithful accomplice.

The Kulps were more than neighbors.  They were my second family.  I learned how to look both ways, so I could cross Main Street to their house.  I saw the world upside down from their swing-set.  Their dirt pile was better than a playhouse.  Their front yard became an ice skating rink after the big blizzard’s snow bounty.  Their TV had better shows.  Dinners were always good at the Kulp’s house, and nothing washed dinner down like a cup of milk!

Forget the grass being greener on the other side; the milk was always better on the other side of Main Street, and the milk always came in my white cup.  The cups stacked in a rainbow of Tupperware colors, and I latched onto the scratched, plastic, white cup for whatever reason.

I drank so much milk that Shannon began to follow suit.  Denise attributed Shannon’s surge in calcium intake to my bone-building habit (which I’d like to believe happened way before the dairy industry became a hormone-pumping institution, and I was binging on purity for all those years).  I tried to drink milk at my house, but it just never tasted the same, probably because it wasn’t served in the scratched, white, plastic of my Tupperware vice.

It had been a long time since I had looked left, right and left again on Main Street, hung upside down on the swing set, raised pretend families on the dirt pile, skated away the snow days, glued my eyes to Nickelodeon, ate dinner or drank milk at the Kulp’s house.  It had been a long time since I had lived across the street from the Kulps, but they were still considered family members which meant family dinners and …dessert!

What would be the baked symbol of the bond between neighbors, between grown schemers, dreamers and accomplices, between reminiscing and updating?

“Hey neighbor, I’m baking a cake, and I’m out of milk.  Could you lend me a gallon?”

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