August 9, 2020

What Pancakes Taught Me About My Love Life

posted on: Thursday September 30, 2010

Allison Pelle ’11/Commentary Staff

I once read a quote that said, “Things that are a waste of time: reheated pancakes, alcohol-free drinks, and falling in love.” While I disagree with the latter two items, I do believe that reheated pancakes are a waste of time. Part of the allure of pancakes is that they are hot off of a griddle, maybe in your home kitchen, served by your mom’s huge rubber spatula right onto your plate that you lifted to meet the saucer of warm, starchy goodness. Orange juice, butter, and maple syrup wait in the wings. Or maybe you’re at a diner on a Sunday morning and your white-haired waitress brings out a huge stack of blueberry pancakes on her arm, next to a mountain of hashbrowns. Maybe they’re coming off a frying pan in your friend’s apartment on a groggy, dehydrated Saturday after a long night. The pancakes soak up whatever was in your stomach as you discuss hangover cures. No matter which type of scenario you enjoy your pancakes in, they are great because they’re fresh right there and then. They lose all of their glory and appeal when they’re stuck back in the fridge under a loosely-gathered piece of plastic wrap.

I have always loved pancakes. They are usually my go-to order when eating out for breakfast. I have only been in two serious relationships, but I always kind of think about what it would be like to have a pancake breakfast with my boyfriend at the time. I think it seems a little bit spontaneous, rolling out of bed around noon and using whatever you have in the fridge — still wearing your pajamas — to satisfy your sweet tooth in the middle of the day. I have had two pancake experiences with two different boys. Maybe the way these failed fantasy mornings panned out says something about me, about them, and about us.

My first boyfriend and I used to have undercover sleepovers because we lived at home and had to sneak around without our parents knowing. The idea of such a covert operation made it that much more exciting. But since we were limited in time, he used to run out in the morning and pick up pancakes from IHOP to bring back for us. Needless to say, he was a sweetheart to try and make my stupid fantasy come true, but the pancakes were never very good and we had to eat them in a rush and in a cramped room. Not very romantic. We played this charade a couple more times that summer before giving up completely.

The next boyfriend and I met while I was abroad. On Valentine’s Day, he cooked me dinner, so the next morning I offered to make pancakes. Channelling my inner Jack Johnson, I wanted to make banana pancakes, since we lived in London and it rained all the time. What a perfect pancake breakfast idea! We headed to the market and picked up the necessary items, but when we returned home to make them, the batter wouldn’t cook, it stuck to the pan and filled the apartment with a strange burnt banana smell. It was an epic failure.

I think the fact that I could never pull off actually cooking pancakes for the boys I was with says something about me. It says that I wasn’t ready to be so settled. I wasn’t ready to be committed. I didn’t really know what I was doing. The first boy and I couldn’t even go downstairs to make pancakes, so we got someone else’s. We couldn’t pull off a relationship either because we were holding onto the idea of something that just couldn’t be. We wanted the idea of our perfect morning with pancakes, cuddling, and coffee but we knew that it was all kind of a lie. With the next guy, I gave the pancakes a shot, but in the end, they weren’t meant to be. I had good intentions and dreamed of how perfect it would be, but I couldn’t make it work. I wanted to show him that I could cook for us and instead I scraped black pancake batter off of a skillet, embarrassed. I guess that I was trying to be someone I’m not. So maybe the next time I’m seeing a boy, I’ll attempt to make pancakes in the morning. Maybe it will work out and maybe it won’t. Maybe I’m crazy for thinking pancakes can tell me anything about a relationship. But maybe, the things we love and try to share with the ones around us can help us learn a little more about ourselves.

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