The Gift of the Betty Crocker Magi

(a very short piece of fiction based on a number of actual events)

They arrived en masse late one afternoon. The kitchen was a mess, and a plumber was trying to coax water from the faucet into the sink full of yesterday’s dirty dishes. Dinner wasn’t showing any sign of materializing out of the clutter.

They had trouped into her house á la surprise party, carrying paper plates and a chocolate cake. “How nice!” she exclaimed with false enthusiasm. Their purpose was to spread the joy that Christians know, but as far as she was concerned, the only thing spreading was crumbs. She thought about how she liked cake with ice cream rather than piety.

She’d had some experience squashing rapture. Once many years ago, her first husband invited two Mormons to their house. It was the holiday season, and besides loathing proselytizers, she was busy. The three wise men sat in the living room discussing Jesus; she wrapped Christmas gifts on the dining room table, tolerating the visitors until one of them gave her husband a knowing, sympathetic smile.

“You have no idea who or what God is,” she announced loudly to the followers of Joseph Smith. It wasn’t as immediately effective as if she’d proposed to slip into something more comfortable and break out the martinis, but they soon headed for the door, convinced there was no likelihood of diverting her from the road to Hell. The thought of that evening always amuses her.

“I don’t really like your chocolate fucking cake,” she said sweetly. (Like them, she believed in the power of The Word).

The Betty Crocker Magi fled more hastily than the Mormons had, just as the plumber announced, “There!” and water began to flow into the sink.

While washing the dishes she decided to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. She wasn’t really very hungry, but she would say a prayer of thanks to her god for this food, and she would smile.


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