My daughters are entertaining a neighborhood friend in the kitchen right now. Between making an audible mess of the floors and counter with popsicles they are showing off their master small talk skills.
“So,” Clara says casually, “Which of our grandmothers do you like the best?”
There is a moment of silent confusion and then Clara politely repeats herself, “Our grandmothers. We have two of them. Which one do you like the best.”
The poor girl is again stunned into silence, “What? I don’t know your grandmothers, do I?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Clara agrees with an odd chuckle, like a character from Alice in Wonderland, “but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick one.”
“How can I pick one, I don’t know them?” the girl debates them vainly.
Lydia jumps in with an innocent lisp that for a moment veils her own madness, “There’s only two. Pick one. Butter or Salt?”
“What? Butter or salt what? What are you talking about?”
Clara again, “Those are our grandmothers. Butter and salt. Which one do you prefer?”
“I like them both?” It’s obvious the girl is hoping the conversation will end here.
The conversation will not end here. My girls laugh and I can picture them hanging off of each other’s shoulders and rolling their eyes, climbing the refrigerator like jovial spiders, dangling from the ceiling, nose to nose with this frightened neighbor girl that is no doubt inching her way towards the door.
Lydia finishes laughing first and says, “One of our grandmothers says ‘Everything is better with Butter’-”
Clara ends the thought for her, “-but the other grandmother says ‘Everything is better with salt’.”
“So one is Butter!” Lydia sings,
“And the other is Salt!” Clara harmonizes.
There are several more seconds of silence in the unseen kitchen.
“So, which do you like best?” Clara presses.
“Okay, um. I guess I like Butter then, but they are both-”
“HA! That’s Gran!” The girls sing and begin stomping in rhythmic circles and chanting to themselves as if the word “Butter” has set off some strange ritualistic dance. “EVERYTHING! IS BETTER! WITH BUTTER! WITH BUTTER! EVERYTHING! IS BETTER! WITH BUTTER!” the girls sing in a warping circle that spirals around their friend as she flees out the back door into our yard.