For Valentine’s Day, I baked E.S. an apple pie. He said it was the best apple pie he’d ever had, including all the apple pies I’d baked him before. He said it was perfect. I was quite pleased with this praise, as he is never so effusive unless he really means it.
Two days ago, as we were bringing the now empty pie plate back to my apartment, we had the following conversation:
FAUSTUS: I need to find some smaller pie plates. The pie crust recipe I use doesn’t generate enough dough to fill these comfortably.
E.S.: Yeah, you’re right. The crust on that pie was a little bit thin.
FAUSTUS: I thought you said it was the best apple pie you’d ever had.
E.S.: It was.
FAUSTUS: So when you said it was perfect you were lying.
E.S.: No, I wasn’t! It was perfect!
FAUSTUS: Except for the tissue-thin crust, which you hated.
E.S.: Look, there’s going to be a flaw in any pie.
FAUSTUS: Oh, so I’m incapable of making an apple pie that’s even edible.
E.S.: It was perfect. But I think of perfection in human terms.
FAUSTUS: Why on earth would you do such a ridiculous thing?
E.S.: Are you going to be like this forever?
Well, at least it leaves him room to say of the next one, “you’ve outdone yourself, Faustus! This is the best pie you’ve ever made!” If the latest one were truly perfect, all he could do is praise the next one as being “as good as” the last, and how much fun is that?
Wow, I can be dense when it comes to relationships, but even I would say, “Really honey? I thought the crust was perfect.”
I would recommend you make the slightest criticism of his performance next time you have sex, but that’s what I would do, and look at me, I’m eternally single.
Are you incapable of elementary math? What sort of cretin would get a smaller pie plate instead of scaling up his pie dough recipe? Let’s see, I can have more pie, or I can have less pie: which should I choose? It’s no wonder the red staters hate us. When the constitutional amendment banning gay sex goes into effect, people will look back to this day and blame Faustus. Smaller pie plates, indeed.
Conversations like that happened early on in my relationship. And here we are eight years later. 🙂
Jess: Well, he could say each time, “I thought there was no way on earth any pie could be better than the last, since it was perfect, and yet with this latest pie you have shattered all my previously held ideas of perfection. You are a god.” You know, something like that.
Brian: You’d think that anybody would know to say that, wouldn’t you? But E.S. is from Iowa, where apparently people “tell the truth,” whatever that means.
anapestic: You are absolutely right. The problem is that, alas, while I am not incapable of elementary math, the measurements involved in my pie crust recipe are such as to prevent me from carrying it out. If I were to add a cup of flour, for example, I would have to add three and one fifth tablespoons of shortening. I do not have a measuring spoon for a fifth of a tablespoon, and the idea of estimating such measurement sends shivers of horror down my spine, as I hope it does down yours.
tim: Does this means I’ll get an apartment as beautiful as yours?
Oh, this is so scary. Although he is too kind to mention it here, Jess and I have had this same diatribe (with me playing your bit, of course). It’s a difficult life for perfectionists. We must have praise, of course, but the praise must be perfect. This praise was flawed. Partly because of your own actions (been there) but flawed, nonetheless. My advice is not to critique your own cooking (or knitting, or almost anything for that matter) to others because, I have found, most people will think it positively wonderful because they are accustomed commerical preparations only. Only you know your own shortcomings, so it only matters to you! But to expect E.S. to lie to you when you opened the floor for the critique…well, that’s a big request. Since you are a walking example of perfection always, opportunities to nick the armor of perfection are rare indeed, and should be expected demand to be used advantageously by the outside party. Of course, the outside party has no idea that criticism is like cyanide to a perfectionist – it takes a mere whiff to shrivel and dessicate the spirit.
Which brings me to a bumper sticker I once spotted: “Those of you who think you’re perfect really annoy those of us who are.”
As one perfectionist to another (“Hi Pot, I’m Kettle!”) I can only opine thusly: “Okay, Joan, it’s time to come down off that pyre.”
By the way, you can bring that apple pie to my house any time. But you’ll have to leave it at the door, because I think I would commit suicide if every bite of the meal I would like to prepare for you and E.S. wasn’t perfect in every respect. And Jess would never survive such a day. See what I mean? xoxoxo
If you do not measure your flour by weight, you can never hope to achieve pie crust perfection. Scale up your solid fat of choice by two tablespoons and make the necessary adjustment to the weight of your flour.
I’m not sure when shivers down the spine became a bad thing, but what else can one expect from a flour-by-volume measurer?
You are doomed to an entire life of people saying to your face, “This is the best pie ever!” and then leaving your table and saying, “That pie had no soul whatsoever. I bet he measures his flour by volume. And he always seemed so anal, too. Alas.”
Marc: I’m staying right here on the pyre. It’s very warm. Plus everybody up here with me thinks my pie is perfect.
anapestic: Could you please send me your pie crust recipe? Otherwise I will never be able to lift a finger in the kitchen again for fear of the scenario you describe in such chilling tones.
Dear lord, it’s a good thing that he loves you. As for pie crust, does it really make that big a difference? How big is your pie plate, anyway? Would you like me to send you my crust recipe? It works quite well. I also have a wonderful recipe for (no lie) a raisin pie that is surprisingly wonderful.
On the other hand, you could always buy a Mrs. Smith’s.
Please disregard the overly repetitive use of the word “wonderful” in that last comment. It’s Sunday and my brain has shut itself off early.
Ya know, sometimes, when my g/f and I fight over things which I view as petty, I think of the many stories I have read in some of my favorite gay blogs and wonder if I would be better off as a gay man.
Then Faustus comes along and ruins my hopes and dreams! 🙂 Lol!
Pie pyre! Pie pyre!
My darling hubcap was really impressed by the stuff you read him over the phone.
If you weren’t gay and living in Manhattan, I’d swear you were my straight boyfriend in Minneapolis, who told me recently he was embarrassed by the imperfect emulsion in the curried soup he made last time I visited him. Of course, my reaction was to feel inadequate for having not noticed, so maybe I’m a head case too.
The hysterical gay drama of a gay relationship… I smell a TV series on one of the gay networks!
Oooh…oooh…I know that raisin pie recipe. My mother made it for years. Surprisingly good. I even like the sour cream version, and I know that sounds awful, but it’s really not.
bitchphd: “my straight boyfriend in Minneapolis, who told me recently he was embarrassed by the imperfect emulsion in the curried soup he made last time I visited him.”
Imperfect emulsion in the curried soup? Are you sure he’s straight? Just because he can do things straight boys, too, that doesn’t mean it’s his true calling. 😉
Dear Lord, even you must realize how absurd that sounds, no?
If not, I’ll happily forward you the phone number to my therapist.
He’s learned his lesson. Next time it will be: “This pie is good. But not as good as the Valentine’s Pie of Aught-Five.”
Jess: I had the EXACT same thought. Faustus: thank you, my dear, for a much- needed gufaw. 🙂
To her person who called Faustus /Joel a cretin — spot on.