Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Old Friends and Muffins

**Shameful picture alert!** Seriously bad hair and gangly limb warning! Proceed at your own risk!

And also, if you EVER tell my girls that I was once a cheerleader, I will make a fancy pair of earrings out of your kidneys. There will be no cheerleaders in the house of Chez T. We are a cheerleader-free zone here; cheerleaders are blood-sucking zombies in disguise.

I will also take a moment to preach against the wrongness that is my hair. Sun-In is whack, people! Ah, the 80's. So much shame, so little time.

Stephanie moved to my town the summer before eighth grade. She hailed from Connecticut and was far, far more mature than me. Initially, she was bitter about the move from her beloved East coast, but after a while, she settled in and focused on more important things. You know. Boys.

Unlike me, Steph could flirt. She could even converse with boys. She wasn't afraid of them, which boggled my mind. She could walk past a group of boys, stop, say a few words and move on without pissing herself.

She also had glorious, thick red hair, boobs and a closet full of Guess jeans. Why she hung out with me, I have no idea.

But boy, was I grateful, because the summer before eighth grade, in typical teen-girl-mean-girl fashion, my circle of friends decided that they hated me.

That summer, they called me in the middle of the night and whispered, "Everybody hates you, bitch." They bribed the most popular of boys to ring me up and deliver blows like "Hey, did you know they all got together this weekend and burned every picture of the group that had your face in it?"

Until Steph arrived, that first day of 8th grade loomed in front of me, black and horrible. And then, like some East coast angel, she fell on my doorstep and I was saved. She was worldly, unafraid. By her side, I could be brave.

Like many teenage girls, Steph was always on some crazy diet. I'd never been on a diet before; I needed a few spare pounds, honestly. But watching her, my sophisticated and gorgeous friend, pore through Seventeen magazine for diet tips, I was smitten. It seemed like a very savvy and glamorous thing to do. So, like any good Lemming, I followed.

We went on some doozies. There was the Smoothie Diet, the Lean Cuisine Diet, the Cottage Cheese Diet, the Baked Potato Diet. Of course, neither of us needed to diet. Not one bit.

Steph had a mother who tolerated these little bouts of craziness; her mother struggled with her own weight and knew diets like the back of her hand. Steph was fully allowed to sit down at the dinner table, refuse the meal being served and slurp down some sludge of fruit and yogurt and wheat bran.

If I'd tried a stunt like that, Mama would have eaten my head.

So I really only could "diet" over at Steph's house. The routine was usually the same: I'd spend the night on Friday, we'd follow the diet through Saturday and then, bored to tears by rabbit food and hungry as pirhanas, we'd eat our way through Sunday.

It was rather easy to de-rail at some point, because Steph's mom was a terrific cook and baker. There was always some amazing treat in the kitchen, luring us in.

One weekend, after a particularly dismal Saturday on the Grape Nuts Diet, Steph and I smelled these muffins baking Sunday morning. Between the two of us, over the course of the day, we killed the dozen.

Who needs Grape Nuts when you can have these succulent, not-overly-sweet muffins? Just don't eat the whole batch yourself.

Banana Tia Maria Muffins
makes 12

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup honey
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup mashed, ripe banana
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons Tia Maria, Kahlua, or other coffee liqueur
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups whole wheat flour

Cream butter and honey until fluffy. Beat in eggs, bananas, milk and Tia Maria. Sift together the salt, baking powder, soda and flour. Add to banana mixture by hand until just moistened. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Drop into greased muffin cups, filling almost to the top. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.

~These muffins also do nicely with about 1/2 cup of nuts or mini-chocolate chips stirred in.

Blessedly, Stephanie and I are still friends. Although our diets were destined for failure, our friendship endured. As soon as she grasped that high-school diploma, she ditched our mid-West butts for her beloved East. But though the miles between us are many, our hearts still know each other, in ways only old friends can.


  1. The hair is the best part of the picture! LOL!

  2. That picture is awesome, and your story of 8th grade and the sheer cruelty therein made me smile a lot. Sigh. I knew those girls with boobs and Guess jeans and Seventeen magazine. I was not one of them!

  3. That harrowing tale of eigth-grade cruelty makes me want to yell in my office something that is not office-friendly nor blog-printable. But I think you can get the gist of it. :-) Something similar (but not quite as mean, but more public) happened to me at the end of ninth grade.

    You know, I was at a focus group a few weeks ago that had one group with teenage girls, and I felt SO UNCOMFORTABLE around them because I was sure they were OMG judging me. How messed up is that?

  4. I just plain old love reading your posts. Funny eight grade stories, frightening hair pics and recipes....what more could I ask for?

  5. I love your stories so much. I had that happen to me the summer before my freshmen year, but not in quite as mean of a way. Everyone just drifted apart. We all just lost the things we had in common and I ended up with no one for a while. It made me go through this huge depression, but luckily some people caught on and got me the help I needed. And also, the best thing to come out of it all, was that I learned not to give a shit about what anyone else thinks and that popularity isn't everything, but being true to yourself is. That's a good lesson to learn at the start of high school.

  6. I love the stories that accompany your recipes. Side note: aren't teenage girls horrible to one another? Ever read Speak? It's young adult lit but worth the read.

  7. This post has all of the elements that make me love your writing so much: humor mixed with reality - in this case, the reality of being a 13 year-old girl: the catty friends, body image issues, Lemming-like behavior. So grateful that we all got out alive.

    Amazing photo. Amazing.

  8. It won't let me comment...grrr....I LOVE this post!!!

  9. HA HA!! It worked!! I knew if I talked dirty to the comment machine it would work. :)

    Love this post...from the picture of the the friendship. Love it!!

  10. So, I had heard rumors of the rampant and well developed malevolence of teenage girls, but holy fuck were those bitches evil.

    That's a kind of diabolical I can't even comprehend. It's a twisted, cold-hearted, calculating kind of mind game that I thought only existed in movies like Carrie.

    Congratulations on surviving through that.

  11. I can't believe you were a cheerleader! Not me I was on the swim team and track team, and in chior.
    I hate that girls can act so mean like that. I have my daughter in a very small school it works best for her, but I do dread all that cattyness that goes with teenageers.
    Remember eating grapenuts warm?

  12. I think I'd rather have multiple root canals than ever go through middle school again. The sheer evil nature of teenage girls still makes me cringe in my boots. But a friendship and muffin recipe that outlasted the bitches? Now that's a great way to overcome!

  13. In honor of the pom poms on the shoes and the awesome muffins, here goes:
    B! A! N! A! N! A! S!


  14. *tear*

    A good friend is worth a million bucks, huh?

    P.S. I think that picture is awesome!! Remember, it was a different period so at that time you were in fashion!! Besides, you were beautiful!!

  15. Man, those cheerleader uniforms are downright nun-like compared to what they wear now. (And, man, that makes me sound old.) Maybe I need to get some Sun-In and go on the Grape Nuts Diet to recapture my youth ...

  16. A cheerleader, huh? I'm wondering how many batches of those muffins might get me to burn the copy of your story (beautiful, by the way) and picture (adorable!) I've tucked away in my safe deposit box...

  17. What a neat story of friendship. I'm glad middle school and high school are over too.

    Oh and the muffins? Fabulous!

  18. I could never do a diet either. I like food too much.

  19. Nice to know I'm not the only one hiding my former cheerleader status from my girls! I would be mortified!! Sometimes after hearing your bully stories, I just want to kick someone's ass for you. I mean was everyone where you lived just mean or what?? At least you've shown them. You have your beautiful children, wonderful husband and you are a killer writer. What more could a girl want? Oh yeah and most of us would give our right eye for gangly limbs at this age. Glad you made it through! ;)

  20. I *always* wanted to be a cheerleader, really really, really. But I was shy and underdeveloped and clumsy. And my Dad would never let me try out.
    I also used sun-in..I think they still sell that shit. I also used flirt. Did you have that? It was like funky colored hair dye on a mascara wand. I ran a red color through my blond hair and had a pink strip for months....again..I was a geek.

    I also am not sure why girls are so mean. Really? Is it nessisary? I hope you slapped them upside at some point in time....:)

    Those muffins are going to be had in this house of muffin. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Oh how I wish I had had a savior from Ct (or since I live in Ct maybe from CO) as I entered 8th grade. The meanness.. it still makes me shiver.
    Crazy with the diets... I guess at that age, it's just a fun challenge, an activity. Crazy.
    And I agree on the cheerleading. My daughter will NOT be a cheerleader. Never ever ever. My child will PLAY sports, not cheer for them!

  22. I'm with Becca, "The meanness... it still makes me shiver." Yes, yes, and more yes!

  23. Oh, TKW. I know how badly you don't want those girls of yours to be cheerleaders, but I do wonder how much of a say we really get (and I want it, believe me). If you have a plan in place to elude the advent of cheerleaderhood chez vous, I want a copy! Just in case I have need for it, you know.

  24. They seriously did that to you? What the fuck was wrong with them?!? The only good thing about it is that while you're awesome, they probably still suck at life.

  25. I'm the muffin girl. I could eat the whole batch. I work at a high school. I work with middle school kids. They're total brats at Grade 8. I used be called Debra-less-- which is why, to this day, I detest being called Debra. Why? I had big boobs and my mother wouldn't let me wear a bra. I survived it. High school girls are just as wicked. I'm so glad I raised a boy. Great story. It's why I come here. You can write, girl.

  26. The intro to this piece is some of your best writing yet. Hilarious, touching, painful, and menacing (my kidneys would make GREAT earrings, fyi). Sun-in looks better on you than it did on me.
    Raising girls must be terrifying. Being a girl was bad enough.

  27. Suddenly, I'm hungry for something moist and crumbly...sadly, I just used up my bananas making your banana bread recipe earlier this week.

    As many have said, I love, love, love reading your stories that lead to your recipes. The Sun-In and girl-cruelty here took me right back to junior high. Throw in the awkwardness of a school dance and the smell of pencil shavings and I'm totally there.

  28. Hey, TKW, I've been to my 30th high school reunion and the damn cheerleaders are STILL treating me like crap! But it's okay, I can be charitable. That, after all, was their peak...

    Great story, great muffins. Hard to believe what we all went through in those miserable years but I guess we can at least be grateful that we weren't cyberbullied on top of it!

  29. Love reading your posts so much but never feel I have appropriate words to comment.

    LOVE that photo by the way - if I'd have had the opportunity to be a cheerleader here in the UK I'd have taken it. And failed miserably.

    Girls are horrendous aren't they? My best friend overnight decided to suddenly not speak to me and then spread some crazily nasty rumours about me. She didn't speak to me for 2 YEARS and then one day, while we were waiting to go into class she just started again. Like nothing had ever happened. What is wrong with people?!

  30. Wow. When I was in jr high, the cheerleader girls were the coolest, prettiest (often richest) girls in the school. They dated the jocks, you know, guys with muscles. I would have killed to be a cheerleader back then, but I was not any of the above, not even sporty or bendy. In high school the cheerleaders were labelled 'preppie' and it was OK to be something else, but I was still honoured when one of them spoke to me. How sad is that? Yep, adolescent girls are right bitches and my guess is that they didn't hate you so much as envy you. Great to have a good friend that you are still in touch with. I've lost contact with all of mine from back then. But then I had weird people for friends ...

  31. I have some bad news for all you moms who don't want cheerleaders - You'll get them! Trust me!!!

    Love the picture as it reminds me of my youth. Like Linda, I recently attended my 30th high school reunion. Few of the cheerleaders showed up but the rest of us had a blast!!!

  32. TKW, are you sure that we aren't cosmic twins? Or maybe it's just that sadly, some experiences are kind of universal. And why is it that despite recognizing that Mean Girlness is stupid and cruel, some women never grow out of it?

    My cheerleder uniform is tucked away in storage. I don't think anyone who knows me now would ever believe that I actually was a cheerleader if I didn't have the uniform as proof.

    PS - Sun In totally rocked!

  33. The muffins look awesome and the post is exactly why I'm so afriad for my daughter to leave 1st grade.

  34. Teen girls can be so mean...yay for Stephanie coming to your rescue. That's cool that you're still friends. You need to go back to a reunion to show those girls you ROCK!

  35. You look so pretty in that photo - forget the hair and notice your lovely smile!

    Girls at school can be mega bitches hey? What possess them to think of such evils? I know the feeling honey...I do! Grrrr... if I ever caught a daughter of mine behaving that way (if I ever have one)...she'd have to for the hills!

    So glad you had Steph...sounds like you two had some interesting times! :) xxx

  36. Nice outfits. I'm telling... And last time, it was earrings out of balls. Hmm. You're an equal opportunity jewelry maker. Excellent.


  37. Didn't know where this was going. I'd never have guessed MUFFIN.

    What IS it about middle school girls?! Worse, some never outgrow it!
    (Not that females have the rights to spewing venom. Example A: Congress.)

  38. TKW, you know that they were mean because they were jealous of you, right? Because of your gorgeousness and awesomeness. You are the sweetest, most amazing chick ever.

  39. Hey! Whatchu sayin' 'bout cheerleaders? Those girl/guys were horribly mean and if you still have their names, pass them along and MY cheerleader will go beat their butts!

  40. It seems like everyone's had "a Stephanie" in their past...that girl who makes beauty seem effortless...even when it's not. I'm a big believer in the bran Mom made them all the time when I was growing up. But I suppose the benefits are lessened a bit when you slather them with butter AND apple butter?

    Love the picture.

  41. I'm pretty sure we would have been best friends in 8th grade. One problem, I was still in diapers when you were shimmying into that glorious cheerleader getup.

    Yup, you can say it. I don't mind being called a bitch!


  42. Damn those mean girls.

    Your writing always makes me feel like I am right there, next to you as you were pouring through those magazines. You rock.

  43. Yee haa! A Kitchen Witch cheerleading photo! It's about time. You are adorable. But those uniforms are, um, not.

    My sister-in-law gave my daugther some pom-poms for Christmas. She was SO excited. I can't decide whether to feign ignorance and hide the pom-poms, or to start her herky training.

  44. Priceless photo/evidence. Crazy diets seem to be a crazy rite of passage that I remember well. I love this ode to your past and your friend and those lovely muffins. As always, I adore how you weave the edible with the unforgettable.

  45. How cute were you?? And I'm sure you know, your girls WILL find out; it's like a homing device daughters have about their moms.
    Wow, I can't believe those girls did that to you. Where were ANY of their mothers?? I'm always asking my daughter when a certain friend who's been around suddenly isn't. And how great is it that you two are still in touch.

  46. I LOVE the photo! Go Manning!

    Can I have some butterscotch?

  47. Awesome readers,

    I am obviously suckage at follow-up comments. But I can't tell you how much your input, your sweet support and outrage at the mean-girl-cruelty has meant to me.

    Mean girls are everywhere. I will say, however, that I just dropped to the ground and let them eat me. Mean girls love that. Raise some fighting children for me, would you?

    Thick skin, thick skin/with it, you'll do everything.