Friday, December 14, 2007

Tin Can Pie

It looked heavenly, a soft yellow lemon filling crowned by a thick cloud of meringue. It wasn't hard to choose that slice of pie out of the apple, pumpkin, and chocolate cream sitting on the buffet table. I reverently lifted the slice in my hands, holding tight to the plate to keep the confection from floating away. Oh, yeah, this one was worth the calories.

I carried the slice back to my place at the dining table. I set it down at an angle worthy of a Southern Living magazine front cover. Then I settled myself in my chair and picked up my fork. I watched the tines descend to the point of the pie, the perfect place to start eating. The crust broke easily, promising a tender offering of pastry. I lifted the bite up from the plate, my tongue tingling in anticipation, my mouth opening just enough to let the pie slide inside. I closed my mouth around the tines of the fork and pulled the utensil free. Then I began to chew.

Instead of closing in bliss, my eyes nearly popped out of my head. The soft pie in my mouth sent out waves of flavor so metallic, my tongue cringed. If there was a garbage can by my side, I would have made a donation. Although the texture was all wrong, mouthing that pie was like chewing on a tin can. Augh!

Only because of 49 years practice, my ingrained table manners forced me to swallow that first bite of pie. It remained an orphan in my stomach, destined to digest alone.

What had possibly gone wrong with that beautiful piece of pie? I can't imagine. The mystery will go with me to my grave. One un-mysterious thing is the lesson of that strange Tin Can Pie. You can't know what something (or someone) is really like inside just by looking at them. You don't need to take a bite out of them, but you can carry them around a bit and probe them with words instead of a fork. Someone who may look like a mud pie dropped in the gravel and scooped back onto the plate may prove to be the sweetest friend you've ever had.

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