I am blowing my hair just like my mother used to. When I made the mental leap of letting my crew cut grow out into an eventual bob, I knew there would be many awkward moments. Six months later, the idea is strongly reconfirmed. I pulled out my dusty hairdryer in an attempt to replicate the glamorous Lady Di do my hairdresser had easily pulled off last week for a party. In thirty minutes and a spritz of hair goo, she had transformed my lame duck period into one of sophistication and awe. How hard can it be?
It’s a private affair, my meeting with maintenance. I am here with my hairdryer purchased in 1989 from a crowded Duane Reed store off of 57th Street back in my New York days when I was a budding adult longing to duplicate the successful-to-be-businesswoman breaking out from her under-appreciated role as secretary (think Melanie Griffin in Working Girl). Hair played a big part. But upkeep really is not my thing, not then, not now, so the hairdryer went into the bathroom drawer with other neglected feminine gadgets: tweezers, Neet, and face creams. And the hair, well, I believe that was the first time I chopped it off into my super short look. Think low maintenance.
Everything comes back, of course (was that not the Beegee’s I heard blaring out of a car today?) so eventually the desire for long hair came back to me as well. But of course, the process is arduous and painful. Wisps of stubborn hair fight gravity and pop up. Curls steer adamantly south instead of north, like a hard-headed teenager on a stolen drive behind dad’s precious wheels. The general feel is one of utmost doofiness- even with highlights, even with pastes/gels/glues/or Vidal Sassoon’s VS547 Ion’s hell of hot air blasting its fury. Of course, it is most likely because I have no clue how to properly apply any of these. But like my curls, I am hard-headed and, every once in a while, get an extra dose of obstinance and give it a shot at trying to control my mop.
Today seems to have been particularly successful. I look up from my endeavor and see my mother’s hair. Oddly enough, I see my mother. There I am, standing in front of the mirror, sporting a navy blue cotton dress (my standard jeans happen to be dirty that day), complemented with some funky silver jewelry I know she would have hand-picked at her favorite bohemian shop in Tel-Aviv, I could be her. My left hand rigidly braces the hairdryer and miraculously, my hair is poofed out in perfect, round curls: full and healthy, just like mom’s was. The only difference is in the color: mine is highlighted blond and hairs was salt and pepper gray.
And suddenly, I am back in 1984. How many mornings did I walk in on this scene as a teenager? How many times did I hear the hairdryer whirling away and my mother carefully willing her hair into shape? The sound would drown all others and I would wait patiently at the door until she was done. Okay, I was a teenager, I probably never waited. I most likely shouted over the hum and demanded something or other:
Did she remember she had to pick me up today to buy my new shoes?
Could I have a sleepover with my best friend at her house today even if it is a school night (with the logical rebuttal that we simply could not live apart handy.)
Other times it would be sweeter demands:
Can you make your fabulous chocolate cake today?
These latter requests where the favors she seemed to love to fulfill. They appeared simple to her, achievable objects of comfort, so much easier than explaining to a thirteen year-old why Cindy invited Carol to her party but not her or why Mark gave her that dirty look even after George told Sally to tell her that he liked her. These were issues of teenage heartbreak and doom that a mother had to tread carefully on. But baking, baking was something altogether different – a powerful tool for love and comfort she shamelessly and willingly used. Mom’s baking won hearts every time.
My daughter walked in as I was struggling with a curl gone AWOL. She gave me an odd look (probably because she’s never seen me handle a blow-dryer before) and announced:
“Mom, do you think Amy will like my new backpack? It’s not a Hello Kitty one with the hood like she has but it has the same colors and I think its cool but I think she thinks I should have one exactly like hers and what if she doesn’t think its as cool as hers?”
I couldn’t help but feel déjà vu. I looked into my daughter’s troubled eyes. I should have felt empathy for her distress, her dilemma was real and palpable to her. Life was on the brink of Hello Kitty disaster. Perhaps this was an opportunity to discuss great life long lessons. Something about individuality? Confidence? Not giving a crap about what others think? But all I could picture were M&Ms and how much my daughter loves them. How the world seems improved with a sprinkling of those neon nougats of love. An M&M’s cookie would surely lift the fog of gloom from her eyes. I smiled as the full circle smacked me in my face. A part not so deep inside me really, really missed my mom.
“She’ll love it,” I assured her. “It’s super cool.”
And as she struggled with believing me or doubting me, I threw in the phrase that would seal the deal:
“I’ll make you some M&M’s cookies tonight and you can tell me how your day went.”
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) butter room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup M&M's
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 4-5). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and egg yolk, beating until well combined.
Stir in the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Form dough into balls, using 1/4 cup for each cookie. Place six balls of dough on 2 greased baking sheets and flatten each ball into a 2 1/2 inch round. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the M&M's® and press the candies into the dough.
Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. The cookies are done when they are light golden brown in color and just set. They will still seem a little soft but they will firm up as they cool. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack.
Makes about 1 dozen large cookies.