Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Simple Egg

There are two things a person should never be angry at: what they can help, and what they cannot.


My cousin, who is twelve years old, came to visit my mother's house last year while his parents were on holiday. He specifically asked to stay at that house because I happened to be living there at that point and we had not spent much time together in recent years. That was the house I grew up in and my cousin said he had good memories from his trips there when he and I were both much younger. I had long since moved away, married and lived in another country but, since I was residing there for the moment, he wanted to take advantage of that rare occurrence.
We had a wonderful week. We read books and watched movies and I showed him old photographs of his father, my uncle. That made him laugh heartily. Oh, but when he found a twenty-five year old school report card with his father's name on it, and a less-than-stellar comment from a teacher, well then, he jumped up and cheered as though he had discovered a goldmine. He was particularly amused because his father was forever declaring that he himself had been flawless in school. My cousin was so pleased, in fact, that he called his parents on their cell phone and laughed down the phone about the 'secret' he had uprooted.
So, we had a good seven days, as one can see.
There was something, though, that he asked for from the beginning: he longed for a soft boiled egg. Plain and simple, with runny yolk inside, along with maybe a cup of tea and some bread and butter. He didn't eat many eggs at home, he said, but he would love to have one while he stayed with us.
We didn't have any eggs when he first made this request but I promised him that I would see to it.
The days went on and when I remembered, I was working on something and a little bit busy. We asked my mother if she could make him a soft boiled egg.
She agreed to do so.
My cousin was very much looking forward to this small treat. He prepared his cup of tea while I buttered the bread. The egg was delivered in an eggcup, on a tray. My cousin started to eat.
After a few moments I asked if all was well. He said that yes, it was. He had a strange smile on his face.
I suspected there was a problem with the egg. I tried to see and he tried to hide it from me. All the while he was saying, "it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter."
The egg, you see, was hard boiled, more suitable for a salad than anything else. He had wanted a more dinner-time appropriate soft-boiled egg which takes much less time to cook, so that he could dip his bread into it.
Hard-boiled eggs are not, not at all the same thing. It being his last evening with us, I felt terribly bad for him. I must have had a look of fury on my face because when I said I would "take care of it" he possibly detected there may be a bit of shouting involved.
"Don't be cross with her," he said as I flew out into the kitchen.
I wasn't cross with her but I did make it clear she had broken his little heart, shattered his dream and ignored his request.
Not so harshly, though, I hope.
He did, happily, get his soft-boiled egg in the end.
I could scarcely believe that such a nice and obliging child could exist. He did not seek to tell me about the matter, and probably never would have if I had not forced him to. It is also important to take into account, of course, the fact that a simple egg, in the first place, was his only request from us.
I know that it was only a little thing but the fact that he didn't crumple up his face and announce "what IS this?" or similar exclamations, is a credit to his parents. He was so very nice about it and would, I know, have eaten the whole hard-boiled egg despite his distaste for it.

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