On Sunday, I ate pecan pie for breakfast. Yep. Be impressed.
I almost didn’t do it. I almost stopped myself before I said the words aloud to the waitress, thinking, “But I’m acting like a child. I shouldn’t eat dessert for breakfast — it’s unhealthy,” while also thinking, “But I like eating dessert for breakfast, and I haven’t done that in a really long time,” while also thinking, “But I’m fifty-farting-two years old, and shouldn’t dessert for breakfast be a thing of the past?,” while also thinking, “But doesn’t pecan pie at least have protein in it, for God’s sake? It’s better than a doughnut or even a muffin!,” all while inaudibly screaming, “Childish! Childish! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!” until I finally, firmly took hold of myself and asked: “What would Mama do?”
Mama had a saying. (She had lots of sayings.) It was wise. (She was always wise.)
It was one of a few she would say while I was agonizing over something that probably didn’t merit much in the way of agony, but such was my way, and such was hers to respond with pithy maternal aphorisms. This particularly pithy nugget took the form of a question: “If it gives you pleasure,” she’d ask, “and it doesn’t hurt anyone, what’s the harm?” Of course, “anyone” included myself, which automatically excluded things like binge-drinking while skiing and running with the bulls in Pamplona, but did not exclude things like amassing pointless plastic “Star Trek” doodads and winging a baseball against the house until I’d broken three, count ’em, three first-floor windows.
So the other morning, going out to breakfast with family in Vermont, I was tempted to order something nutritious and grown-uppy, like, I don’t know, some boring-ass fruit parfait or oatmeal with sawdust or farm-fresh free-range quinoa. But my eye fell on the specials for the day, and there it was: MAPLE PECAN PIE. Mmmmmmmmm. Instantly my inner child, the one that amassed all those doodads and broke all those windows, said: I need that! I need that NOW, behbehs! I said some version of this aloud and my family responded, bless their souls: “Do it, Ames! Order pecan pie for breakfast!”
After some discussion, I decided on the pie with an egg on the side, because, well, breakfast. The egg would make it feel legit. When the waitress arrived and took our orders, I waited my turn with some anxiety, girding myself for the worst. Would she scowl with disdain? Choke back phlegm with disgust? Would the other diner patrons point at me and laugh? Would someone call 911, anticipating a cardiac event? Even worse: Would I chicken out and order the dry wheat toast?
But when she turned toward me with her bright eyes and pointy pen, pad at the ready, it all went swimmingly.
I’ll have the maple pecan pie, I confidently declaimed. And an egg. Over medium.
“Okay,” she said, and neither scowled nor choked in the saying. Instead she wrote it down with a smile, adding: “Would you like whipped cream with that?”
God bless her.
Yes, I said, and smiled back. Yes! Pecan pie with whipped cream and an egg! I’ll do it! No fear! Stop my heart and ready the paddles!
It came. I ate it. And it was yummy.
I’m tempted to close with some profound lesson gleaned from my high-caloric breakfast escapade, something more than the tastiness of treats and the foolishness of my fretfulness and Mama’s Enduring Wisdom. I could easily go on about the brevity and capriciousness of life and its aggravating, unpredictable habit of veering suddenly off course or, worse, skidding to a halt. Carpe diem. Eat dessert first. All the usual cliches, baked to sugary perfection. We roll out of bed and head off to breakfast never expecting the day to end before dinner, much less lunch, but it always could, right? Well before dessert. Long before you think of ordering the pie. May as well eat it. WWMD.