As requested, a short story entitled “My Meal for Martha,” by Margaret in Minnesota, who was then from North Dakota.
And didn’t Martha know it.
Because she and my employer teased me about it throughout the whole meal.
But I’m getting ahead of my story. First the missing link to how I came to be there in the first place, because I know that we bloggers all love links. It’s fairly simple. I was working in the news bureau at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. Jill Krementz arrived to take the pictures for her story, A Very Young Musician. My boss asked me to be her assistant.
In show business, that would be called my “big break.”
When Jill mentioned she needed a nanny in the Fall, I said I was available. I was a photography major with an English minor who was being given the chance to work for a well-known photographer and her even-more-well-known-almost-to-the-point-of-infamy husband, Kurt Vonnegut.
Certainly I was available!
And that’s how I came to be a nanny in New York. (Nanny and personal chef, I might add. What a deal!)
To be a North Dakotan in New York City is something of a novelty. The locals (who in all likelihood are transplants themselves) expect you to be wet behind the ears which, I beg your pardon, I was not. Well, maybe I was a little. I was extroverted, though, and I liked to talk, and in New York City that is almost enough to get by on.
In any case, perhaps I was “small town” because I hadn’t yet heard of Martha Stewart when I was told that she’d be our guest for supper. The year was 1989 and I was 22 years old. It’s okay for you to do the math because you already know that I’m 40! Anyway, Martha was not yet the self-made empire she is today.
So when Jill said, “Haven’t you started supper yet? Martha Stewart is coming over!!” I simply replied,
My employer led me to one of their many bookshelves, whereupon an entire row was lined with books by this Martha Stewart.
I remained carefully neutral.
I had to, as a defense mechanism, because my life as their nanny was spent in the midst of the rich and famous, and for me to stand there with my mouth gaping—-like when I was introduced to Wynton Marsalis—-would give my naivete away.
I hoped I didn’t smell like hayseed. I took in all the books that were written by our due-to-arrive-at-any-time guest—books like Martha Stewart Entertains and Martha Stewart Makes Perfect Pies & Tarts—I shrugged, and I went to make the meal.
Pasta with clam sauce and a whole wheat baguette.
Probably a salad, too.
And in the end they ate my meal, in its entirety, because my father (who is down home like me) is also 100 percent French Canadian (like me) and had taught me everything I knew. And my father is an excellent cook! ; )
Since the meal was not an issue, my employer and her guest turned to other topics for their conversation. That is to say, they spoke about me and in front of me, their chef, who, as you know, is from North Dakota originally.
In short, they were a wee bit catty.
Well, God bless them. Is it their fault that they weren’t familiar with the beauty of the prairie I called home? Or was it the small town mentality to which they were certain I prescribed? Eh bien! It didn’t matter. I had something to scribble about furiously later that day in my dearest friend, my journal.
And write I did.
And write I continue to do.
Ed. Note: I like Martha Stewart, by the way. She may have certain temperamental vices, but who among us doesn’t? We are all such little children inside, with a heart of flesh and a will that wavers and above all, a need to be loved.
And in Martha’s case, I truly admire the innumerable ways in which she blesses women’s lives with her talent. Anyone who brings more beauty to this fallen world is on my A-list.