Hi, Susan! I got your e-mail calling for volunteers to help out with the upcoming P.T.A. bake sale, and I’m happy to do my part! I just have a few questions first:
Do I have to? I totally get that you want people to help, but you’re not making me, right? And there’s nothing you can hold over me if I don’t—like, my kid not graduating fifth grade or something? No? So it’s purely out of the kindness of my heart that I would give my time and energy here? O.K., great.
Second question: Do you have to? By this I mean, are you obligated as P.T.A. president? If so, is it something set forth in our P.T.A. bylaws, or just a personal sense of obligation? Are you being blackmailed? Because that I would totally get. Heck, I’d be willing to bake eight dozen lemon squares to keep certain unsavory information about me from seeing the light of day. Still, if this is the case, have you considered offering your blackmailers money instead of baked goods? Might be worth a try.
O.K., so it seems like you’re pretty hellbent on this whole bake-sale thing, but—and here’s where things get a little crazy, Susan—what if we just, like, didn’t, though? Hear me out on this one. You’re organizing this bake sale to raise money for, what, new basketball hoops? Cool. Gotta have those hoops, amirite?! So your plan is that a bunch of mostly employed parents are going to find time in their already busy days (probably late at night, while drunk) to bake some dry, shitty brownies that they will then—correct me if I’m wrong—sell for, what, one dollar per dry, shitty brownie to other parents’ children in the school lobby? Forgive me, but what if—and stay with me here, Susan—we all just don’t bake the dry, shitty brownies and instead everyone puts a dollar in some sort of basket or bucket or whatever and we all save ourselves a bunch of time and effort and dry-, shitty-brownie consumption?
I see you remain unconvinced, Susan. That’s fair. Bake sales are a time-honored P.T.A. tradition that probably goes back to the inception of the P.T.A. itself, which, as you of course know, was an organization started by pioneering women who, lacking the right to vote, sought an alternative way to advocate for their families’ and communities’ interests. I am sure that Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, in addition to fighting for legislation to protect children from the deleterious effects of child labor, made a mean chocolate-chip cookie. I bet they made the kind with the slightly crispy edges and the chewy middles. God, I love those.
But that was a different time, when women could fight for their rights and the rights of their children and have time to bake the kind of treat that people actually wanted to buy and eat and not just buy and bury at the bottom of their purse until it became a flattened crumbly mass that left an oily residue on their wallet and the cover of “The Handmaid’s Tale,’ which they’ve also been carrying around in that purse for a month but have only ever gotten to page twenty-six of even though they’ll probably go to book club anyway and bullshit their way through it because sometimes you just need to get out of the house, you know?
The point is, Susan, those women of yesteryear were heroes—nay, gods—and we are but mere mortals who just want to kick off our heels when we get home from work and treat ourselves to a glass (or two, or three if the first glass was actually more like half a glass) of pinot. Who have so many shows we’ve been meaning to watch but can’t even get through one freaking episode of “Westworld” (no spoilers, please!) without our kid needing help with factoring, which, like, fuck if we remember how to do that. You know what I mean, Suze? Who are lucky if we even have two eggs in the fridge to crack into that box of expired Duncan Hines mix we found in the back of our cabinet and who, if we do have the eggs, sure as hell don’t have the right-size pan, so the brownies will either be thick, gushy messes or thin, brittle disasters. Either way, we will douse them with powdered sugar to hide our failure from the judging eyes of our peers.
I know, I know, these are excuses. If I truly cared about my children and our community (God, that word makes my skin crawl, Susan, you just have no idea), I would suck it up and do my bakerly and motherly duty. And I appreciate that point of view, Susan, I really do. But, also, if we’re being perfectly honest (and I hope that we are), I sort of really actually don’t at all.
Anyway, that’s where I’m at! So, thanks for thinking of me, and good luck with the sale! Oh, and let me know if you need any help with the book fair in the spring! I’ve got some thoughts.