Pistachio Pudding

Sunday, September 30, 2012

This past Friday, I was one of a very small amount of faculty in my department who were on campus. The combination of a conference somewhere else and Oktoberfest meant that few people were in the building.

I don't mind this, of course, as I tend to get an inordinate amount of work done. Grading, planning, responding to emails that I failed to return. You know, stuff.

I should have know the day would not go as planned when, at 9 a.m., as I was walking towards the child care at which I was going to be doing a student teaching observation I passed a young man dressed in lederhosen.

Not joke lederhosen, but real, authentic lederhosen. He was not being ironic. Oktoberfest is a really big cultural deal here.

"Oh!", thought I, "There is a young man of about age 19 in lederhosen. Huh."

Then I walked into the child care and began my observation, placing the young gentleman in elk pants out of my mind.

Later that afternoon I sat in my office, grading quizzes. I have one class of mostly sophomores and I am training them to do the reading I assign by giving quizzes based partly on lecture and partly on reading. As I sat in my (truly lovely with large windows) office, one of the maintenance gentlemen stopped by.

I should mention that I have made a concerted effort to say hello to everyone in the building. I am an introvert who disguises this well, knowing the value of appearing as a friendly and reasonable person.  Any of you reading know that this exhausts me - By Wednesday night, I fall asleep between 5:30  and 7 p.m., my internal energy resources entirely burned up.

I am also not a fool. I know how important support staff are in the scheme of "things running smoothly." I've been that support staff. I push myself through the motions of "normal human relations" hoping that I can use my astute observation skills to "learn" how to behave.

I've only just met the maintenance gentleman who has now appeared before me a few days prior. Of course it occurs to me much later that he knows exactly who I am in the way that maintenance people become intimate with the inhabitants of their buildings. He has watched the transformation of my office over weeks as the former inhabitant disappears and I exert my personality through things brought in and arranged. He sees photos and art appear on the walls. He sees what sits in my bookshelf, and what appears, then disappears on my desk. He knows I don't take my work Macbook home and have a "French Baguette" scented candle sitting over on the sideboard.

I lift my eyes and smile when he enters my office. I am recording grades into the computer, saving after each one so the system will remember them. I am careful to check and double check when I do this, fearing the fallability of my short term memory. The late afternoon sun is beginning to stream through the glass.

He sets a metal baking dish on my desk. He explains that there was a pot luck and they have leftovers. He wants to give the few faculty the leftovers.

"It's pistachio pudding.", he explains. "Pistachio is a kind of nut."

Perhaps I looked as if I was unfamiliar with what a pistachio might be and he felt the need to reassure me. In truth, I am well versed in varieties of pistachio. Iranian? Californian? Soaked with Lemon and Salt? I did not share my expertise in things pistachio, however.

"Oh.", I say. "It looks delicious, but I don't have a plate or bowl for you to dish me out some."

The pudding is green and has a cool whip topping. I suspect the bottom is nilla wafer crumbs. It is the type of pudding I have seen several times here at picnics and potlucks. I think of it as a very Midwestern dessert.

His solution is direct. He takes a box which recently housed a desk copy of a book I am considering for use in class next term and rips off the shortest flap. He then slides the cardboard under a section of the pudding and presents it to me.

I sit at my desk, holding a rectangle of cardboard topped with pudding and coolwhip.

I smile. I then do the only acceptable thing I can think to do at that moment. I eat the pudding off of the cardboard. I have no fork or spoon. I simply lift the cardboard to mouth and begin to gracelessly slurp pudding while making sounds of delight.

Later, as I recounted this story to my child and she was doubled over with laughter I remarked:
"If I hadn't just lived that, I may not believe that not only was I offered green pudding on a piece of cardboard - but that I licked it off in front of another human being."

And this, my friends, is how I live now.

5 Baleful Regards:

Anonymous said...

Did it have nilla wafers on the bottom or was it more like a watergate salad with marshmellows and crushed pineapple??? You did the right thing in an awkward situation, good job!!!!

Dawn said...

No - not a watergate salad.

It had crumbs at the bottom, then pudding, then the cool whip - so layers.

I can't precisely identify the crumbs, they were yellow but not graham crackers. I made a guess at nilla wafer crumbs.

Jenny K said...

That was so funny, it actually made me chuckle out loud. Thank you. I really needed the laugh.
Also - you are a good and kind person to eat that man's green pudding like that. I'm sure you made a friend of him.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Doc! I just realized I hadn't dropped in on you in a while. My favorite part of this story is picturing him using the cardboard as both serving utensil and dish.

Lisa said...

I probably would have done the same thing, but then my inner paranoia would have imagine him going back to the other maintenance guys and laughing, "hey that new professor ate my pudding off a piece of cardboard, she fell for it, "!

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