A few years ago, I was giving marital advice (I am sure unsolicited) to my then twenty-something nephew. He was questioning how you truly know you have picked the right person to have by your side for the rest of your life. Here was my advice:
Envision the largest, most beautiful and elaborate buffet ever, an endless smorgasbord of everything from succulent appetizers through decadent desserts spread out for your enjoyment. Some offerings you will simply view and enjoy the esthetics. Some you just have to sample. Some dishes will look better than they taste, some will surprise you in good or bad ways. Try to expand your experience by trying something you have never tried before, or indulge in a dish that at first seems a little strange or maybe even slightly underwhelming. Sample, savor and enjoy, as much as you want for as long as you want. Don’t stop until the idea of unlimited food is repelling.
Now, step away from the table. Have you tried absolutely everything that was tempting? Is there anything you feel is missing from the offerings? Is there one dish, above all others, that truly captivates you?
My nephew answered “pumpkin pie.”
I told him to picture a beautiful plate of glistening pumpkin pie, fresh out of the oven, savory spicy flavors, flaky crust, with a delicious dollop of homemade whipped cream. This is your wedding day. Now imagine this dish of pumpkin pie breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, everyday, all day, for the rest of your life.
Sometimes the pie will be beautiful and perfect, and remind you why you chose this pie over all others.
Over the years the pie will occasionally appear rather disheveled and slightly unappetizing. The pie slice may grow bigger or smaller, or become slightly hard and bitter. The whipped cream on top is long gone, although if you look carefully, it might reappear every once in a while.
Most days you will still remember how much you love pumpkin pie, and will enjoy it.
Sometimes you will feel the intense, initial pull and attraction of this beautiful pie, and thank God it is yours still.
If you are lucky, most days the thought of pumpkin pie again and again and again for the rest of your life will make you feel comforted, and possibly snort with amusement.
Every once in a while, you will look at that pumpkin pie and think “oh my God, please, not another slice of pumpkin pie, I can’t take it.”
And only very rarely, if you are lucky, you will want to take that pumpkin pie and smash it right in the face (if pies had faces…)
Some will find out they made the wrong choice, that pumpkin pie is not the food that will sustain them throughout life.
A few will sneak back to the buffet table for other samples, with varying degrees of repercussions.
Yes, your pumpkin pie will change and evolve over the years. The fresh pie of your youth may now be a more rich, intense and exotic flavor, if you are smart enough to appreciate it.
Happily married couples usually agree the key to a good marriage is picking the right partner.
I also heard a great quote from Blythe Danner, which was to never hate each other at the same time, but that’s another story.
My nephew eventually found his lovely pumpkin pie and married her. My hope is for cute little pumpkin tartlets in the near future.