Arts & Culture » Books

Bodies, like dough

by B. Sherwin

I was 7 years old and my brother was 9 when we first started playing “loaf-in-the-freezer.” In its original, innocent version, this game involved each of us, in turn, pretending to be a loaf of freshly baked bread by lying stiff with our arms pinned to our sides. This “loaf” was placed in the basement deep freeze, along with the neighboring frozen peas and carrots and legs of lamb. When the “loaf” was sufficiently frozen, then, and only then, could “it” rap on the freezer lid, signaling a wish to be released by the “baker” from the icy confines of this electrical tundra.

It was a game involving a fair amount of secrecy as well as fabrication abilities as we were frequently called on to explain why, for example, the pie shells were flattened beyond use or the bags of frozen vegetables in the center of the freezer all seemed to have similar indentations. (We likened that one to the cornfield phenomena in which similar flattened patterns appear spontaneously, as if made by unseen aliens.) And this game also involved a significant amount of trust between the loaf and the baker ...

As this game evolved, less of this freezing part of the bread-making process was involved and, instead, more of the retrieving-thawing-baking aspects of the raw dough were explored. Alas, we’d grown bored with our once exhilarating “loaf-in-the-freezer” game in its original version. The variation we concocted, “frozen-dough-out-of-the-deep-freeze” found the “baker” now watching the once-frozen dough “thaw” – the body relaxed, the arms became unpinned, the solid melted into a mass the consistency of putty. Once this pliable state had been achieved, the “dough” could then be kneaded. This involved a sort of pulling up/pinching motion of, say, a small section of leftover baby fat which was then rolled progressively with this pinching/pulling motion, until it reached its logical termination point. Slowly, ever so slowly, we discovered that, by the miracle of this tactile treatment, the dough would rise ... puff up, expand as if being injected with air. And once it had risen to what was felt to be its fullest height, it was then placed in the “oven” ... the process complete ...




No longer did we have to explain misshapen perishables... and we were viewed as the closest of siblings and, therefore, could do no wrong ... left to play unimpeded ... the preadolescent version of nirvana!

bodies, like dough, need to be needed .....
games played, at any age, while pleasurable and enticing,
are usually also costly.
In the end, organic ingredients almost always cost more
(and are harder to find)
than synthetic ones.
Be careful of the recipes you read,
the ingredients you use ...
and be especially wary of baking at sea level,
as ovens tend to run colder there.

Find more imaginative stories and poems ... return to the Summer Fiction 2001 home page

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