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FIGHT FOR THE FINISH

THE CLEAN PLATE CLUB

Life is uncertain;
Eat dessert first.
Ernestine Ulmer

Peter Svacha was halfway through eating his chocolate pudding, when the restaurant where he was eating told him it was closing time.  He was furious.  He left the place, got a chain saw, sliced a hole in the establishment’s door and crawled back to the table to finish his pudding.

I know exactly how he felt.  I too would obliterate anything that kept me from finishing my dessert.  I blame this determination on my mother. 

My mother’s forte was creating yummy desserts.  She had one number that she always served after spaghetti dinner that was amazingly beautiful and absolutely luscious.  She would bake an angel food cake from scratch (my mother would have sooner danced nude on a fire hydrant than use a cake mix).  The finished product was so light she needed to weight it down to stay on the plate.  She whipped up a custard of eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar and pineapple juice and frosted her cake with it.  She decorated the entire production with pineapple slices, maraschino cherries and strawberries and served it with a lots of whipped cream and a flourish.

BUT there was a catch.  My mother never allowed us to touch dessert until we cleaned up everything she put on our dinner plates. Before we could tuck into her pineapple delight, we had to demolish spaghetti with meatballs, broccoli in a cheese sauce, a green salad and garlic bread. We suffered for that cake.  Indeed we suffered. We endured tummy aches, stomach spasms and guilt…but we managed to down it  and when we did, we finished it down to the last bit of pineapple. 

My mother’s chocolate cake was the eighth wonder of the world.  It was made with six eggs, a ton of butter and enough chocolate to keep a candy store supplied for ten years. She topped it with a mint chocolate frosting to die for and set it in the middle of the dining room table so we could see what we had to look forward to at the end of the meal.

But first, we had to finish dinner. Remember?   She would serve us a huge slab of steak, potatoes with cheddar cheese, asparagus hollandaise, a tossed salad and wait until we cleaned our plates before we could touch that cake. I still feel the pain of forcing that cake into my packed middle but I know that even if my stomach burst, I would let absolutely nothing interfere with my demolishing that wonderfully melt in your mouth cake.

All I can say, is “go for it Peter Svacha. “ Finish that pudding and never count the cost.  For what is dinner without a sweet finish?? It is nothing more than duty with no reward, a rose with no fragrance, sex without climax. Life is to be lived, of course, but if it is to be savored, we must have dessert.