I always mix my pancake batter in a large metal pitcher before the place opens for the day. That way, all I have to do is pull it out of the refrigerator, maybe give it a quick stir if it sits too long, and pour the cakes out on the grill.
It's important not to stir it too much, or the pancakes come out heavy and flat.
When Julie came into the kitchen, tying her apron on, I knew she wanted to talk. For one thing, her work was all out front.
I didn't say anything, though. Over the years I have learned that it is best in these situations to let them start the conversation. Otherwise, you can come off like you're prying. No one accepts help from a busybody.
So I kept mixing the batter, and waited for her to begin.
She just stood there.
I mixed some more.
She still stood there.
Finally, I decided to change tactics. A civil hello couldn't hurt.
"Good morning." I said.
She smiled, a little quizzically.
I kept right on mixing.
She finished tying her apron and pulled it around in front. She seemed to find my mixing fascinating.
Sometimes you have to give things a little push.
"So," I said, "did you listen to your shell?"
It's really a matter of judgement in these cases. Everyone's different.
"Did you hear anything?"
"In the shell." I said.
"Oh! In the shell," she said.
"Well, did you?"
"No. Not really."
"It was nice—the sunset, and all. I kind of felt my worries going away…
"…but I don't think I heard anything—Is that pancake batter?"
She pointed to pitcher.
"Oh," I said. "Yeah."
"Aren't you, you know, over-stirring it?"
She was right. I dumped it, and started over.
Julie still stood there, watching me, with her mouth pulled to one side, like she was trying to decide something.
Finally, she decided.
"Clarence, how do you know what's right to do?"