Your attempts to domesticate me have failed

“After you’ve made the eggs, you soak the pan in…” “Cold water,” Karen and I said.  “Because hot water…” said Mrs. Frey.  We replied in unison, “Keeps cooking the eggs”.

Karen Frey (pronounced “car-in”) and I used to visit each other in Water Mill, Long Island when we were teens.

Inexplicably, her mother took it upon herself teach me the domestic arts.  Mrs. Frey’s teaching method was to leave many sentences unfinished.

Then she’d command me, with a tiny smile, to help set the table or hang the wash.  But she’d never had a close enough relationship with my mom to just assume I’d hang Dr. Frey’s undy-pants out to dry when I came over.   This was an imposition. 

But there was laundry time, dinner time, dishes time and don’t step on the white rug all the time.

I never knew if they’d decorated their house or hired a designer, but it was spectacular – there were wonderful sculptures, including some stunning pieces from Africa, bold furniture and the untouchable white rug.

Dr. Frey’s claim to fame had been to know Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Africa.  This was the 1970s and Frey was already an old guy, so that was plausible.  Frey was small, but his underpants were pretty goddamn big.

The deep background on Anne Frey (according to my mother, whose sense of drama rendered most facts unreliable) was that she had been a showgirl in England.  Mrs. Frey was adamant about enforcing a no-makeup policy on Karen, so I imagine she was atoning for a squalid, rouged past.

I thought about them yesterday when I soaked an omelet pan in the boiling-est, hottest water ever, straight from a whistling kettle.

UPDATE: In addition to pronouncing Karin “CAR-in”, the Freys also pronounced yogurt “YAH-gurt.”

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