The worst part about my childhood wasn’t so much the obsession my mother had with my hair — parted one way one day, another way the next — but her slavish dedication to following the recipes found on packets. For some reason she saw recipes printed for free on a wrapper as being more authentic, more of a bargain than recipes from a cookbook. Everything came with a recipe back then, to give housewives ideas, and they were always things that could be made with minimum fuss and bother, and quickly too.
She went through this period of making cakes from recipes found on flour bags. There was this One-Mix cake that required everything to be whipped up in one bowl — it had raisins in it, and this thick gooey frosting. She made one every week. It was dire. She’d cut huge wedges of it with a garden trowel. That thing was dense, and ever now and then you’d bite into a raisin, which isn’t something you want to find in a cake. My brother would pick all of his out, and end up with a pile of crumbs, in the hopes he’d be excused from eating it. I wasn’t so crafty. I ate as much as I could, and always ended up with constipation.
Oh look! You have a photo. I can remember clear as day what I was thinking when that was taken. I won’t be able to move my bowels for a week. You can see from my expression how enthused I was.
Eventually Mother remarried. Patrick’s anorexia was hard on her. It’s rare in boys. I think she’s living out on Long Island now.