A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


Those who knew Dad best knew he had The Gift.

"There is a reason it said `B.S. Walkerí on his letterhead, and not just because his name was Bernard Sanford," one of his contemporaries told me. "He could tell you to go to Hades in such a way that you found yourself looking forward to the trip."

Blarney, shine-ola, applesauce, banana oil, soft soap or hokum Ė whatever you call it, Dad had a gift for it. He had a way of making you feel good about yourself even when you and he both knew better.

Once he drove 40 miles to watch me play in a high school basketball game, only to see me ride the bench for the entire game. His observation: "I donít think you missed a single shot during warm-ups." When my voice cracked brutally during my first and only solo in a high school musical production of "Fiddler on the Roof," he insisted he hadnít noticed (even though everyone else in the school had Ė and felt duty-bound to mention it to me). And when I came home from my first semester of college with a report card that looked like a "Sesame Street" lesson on the letter "D," he . . .

Well, OK Ė maybe that isnít such a good example. But you get the idea.

Dad had the gift, all right. I only wish he had passed it on to his youngest son.

Especially the other night.

Anita had gone to a lot of trouble to bake some lemon bars . . . er, lime bars . . . er, lemon-lime bars . . . er, some dessert. Now, as a general rule I like lemony/limey things. But for some reason these little treats didnít work for me, even though they looked and smelled wonderful. I took one bite and set the rest aside, hoping Anita wouldnít notice.

Which was a little like hoping that Tom wonít notice Jerry.

"So how do you like the dessert?" Anita asked.

How are you supposed to answer a direct question like that? If you tell the truth and say "it makes my tongue hurt" you risk hurt feelings and possible gastronomic retaliation (Spam hash, anyone?). But if you lie, not only do you have to choke down the rest of the dessert, but you will likely see this citrus pastry on a regular basis for the rest of your life.

So I reached deep into my genetic infrastructure and came up with the best B.S. Walker I could find: "Itís . . . not . . . my . . . favorite . . ."

I braced myself. Anita is a fabulous cook, so this has only happened a few times in nearly 26 years of marriage. The first time was just a few days into our marriage, when she decided to surprise me by preparing a fancy quiche for dinner. She assumed that it would be a treat because I enjoy eggs about every other way. She assumed wrong. When it became clear that I wasnít thrilled with the meal she got teary-eyed, and I almost felt guilty enough to finish the quiche.


Since then I have rarely complained about anything Anita has cooked (and to be fair, she doesnít complain when I bring in burnt offerings from the barbecue grill, either). So I wasnít sure how she would react to my not-so-ringing critique of the . . . well, whatever they were.

She just shrugged as she took what was left of my piece and popped it into her mouth.

"Thatís OK," she said. "I like them."

I guess thatís what happens after 26 years together. You grow up. You get tougher. You get more secure. And you learn that sometimes itís OK to let them eat quiche.

Whether or not you have The Gift.

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--- © Joseph Walker


Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through