I thought Gideon was asleep in the passenger seat when he suddenly said, “And Lydia said I could have pumpkin pie for her birthday.”
I glanced at him and he was sitting with his head leaned against the window staring out at the trees. Clearly, he had been intending to have a conversation with me all this time and these just happened to be words that were passionate enough to finally break out of his stupor.
“What?” I said, hoping he would start over.
But he was too excited about the pumpkin pie thing. “Lydia said I can have pumpkin pie for her birthday.”
“Oh. Well, that was very nice of her.”
“Yes,” he nodded and sat up a bit, and yawned. “Lydia is a nice sister. She knows I like pumpkin pie.”
“Right,’ I agreed, and then glanced at him a few more times. “You know. June isn’t exactly pumpkin pie season, right?”
He frowned and nodded. “Yeah.” He thought for a moment. “Well, maybe I can have some different pie then.”
“Sure. Fruit pies are good in the summer. We could maybe get a nice cherry pie and have it with ice cream.”
He shrugged. “Maybe.” he didn’t seem convinced. “Or, you know what I really want?”
“Apple. I LOVE apple pie.”
I was surprised. “Oh? I didn’t know this.” We were stopped at a red light so I watched him more closely now as he shuffled his hands in his lap and then brushed at his hair. “What do you mean, when you say apple pie though?” I asked.
He furrowed his eyebrows at me.
“I mean, does this pie have a top and bottom crust? Is it very fat? are the apples in thin slices or in chunks? What does it taste like? There are lots of kinds of apple pies, you know.”
And he seemed to slowly melt into his imagination. A soft smile formed on his face. His eyes slid closed. His head started to sway back and forth as if he were receiving visions. His body was here in the car with me, but his mind and spirit were somewhere far away, dancing to unheard music in a magical world of candy and sweets. He was prancing his way through a lollipop forest, alongside a river of chocolate, and then, cresting a hill he was there, looking down into the great fields filled with apple pies, all standing like sunflowers at the end of long stalks. His eyelids fluttered and I watched as his soft pink tongue slipped several times across his hungry lips.
“What does it look like Gideon? What is your perfect apple pie?”
He giggled to himself, lifting an invisible slice of his dreams to his mouth and taking a large luxurious noisy bite.
“Oh man, little guy, I really want to know what that pie is like. I bet it’s amazing.”
Eyes still closed, wide drunken smile still squiggled across his face, he turned towards me and sighed with pleasure. “It is…” he said slowly, “just…” his voice was a whisper, “like…” I leaned closer, trembling with anticipation. “McDonald’s…”
I sat up quickly and smacked my head against the door frame. “Ouch! What?”
He woke from his fugue. “That’s the perfect apple pie,” he said matter-of-factly. “It’s the one from McDonald’s.”
“No. I mean, how? I mean, what? I mean-“
I was cut off by the car behind me beeping to inform me that the light was now green. I put the car in gear and rounded the corner.
He waved his hands in the air. “You asked! It’s not my fault that it’s the best apple pies ever!”
“You can’t be serious though. Like, they are fine in a pinch, but… how many apple pies have you eaten, before?”
“Lots,” he said defensively, “lots and lots,” and then as I turned again and headed for home he added quietly, “Of course, most of them were at McDonald’s.”
It seems like every day I find more gaps in my children’s education, but I was not expecting this. I wonder if perhaps next year I can modify my kid’s Homeschool plan to include the subject of “Decent Apple Pies”. Or maybe there are things I should purposefully save for his wife to teach him someday. Nah. I’ll teach him about pies; she can teach him algebra.