The Slow-Cooked Sentence

A chance encounter and a yummy rum recipe

Rachael Conlin Levy
Painting courtesy of freeparking

I don’t remember the old woman’s name or her appearance or even the house I was in when I met her almost 20 years ago. These trivialities, the mundane facts that we put into a story because we think it will make it real, don’t exist anymore. In fact, she probably doesn’t exist anymore, either.

After all, she was maybe 80 and I 20 when we met. We were both drinking hot buttered rum at the same holiday party. She was there because she was relative of someone. I was there out of politeness to my boyfriend’s parents. Maybe she was glad to be there, but I sure as hell wasn’t. I don’t like small talk and dislike the upper middle-class even more, and this was a party filled with both.

So I probably approached her because (one) she was old and therefore not intimidating, and (two) because she was old, she might be more interesting than the rest of this crowd decked out in bell-jingling holiday sweaters. Again, the niceties can be ignored because what I’m trying to get at is a feeling, an “Ooh!” that’s never dulled.

I had thought I was going to be entertained with tales from long ago, but instead found myself swapping experiences about growing up in Nevada without running water, without electricity. Old woman and young, we leaped across the generation gap and embraced as girls.

In response to Sunday Scribblings writing prompt: Chance encounter.


Aside from the lingering memory, the other thing I took from that party is a love of hot buttered rum. Now, I know it isn’t something that comes to mind on a smoky day in July, but save this recipe for when Old Man Winter arrives.

Pour 8 to 10 cups of cider into a pot and bring to simmer. Meanwhile, melt 2 TB. butter in a pan. Add 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. cloves and allspice and stir. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar, stir and remove from heat. Combine butter mixture with cider. Pour cider into mugs, add 2 to 3 TB. rum and stir with a cinnamon stick.

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