The Case of the Missing Pumpkin Bread

Last week a loaf of pumpkin bread went missing.

My girls and I had baked four large loaves and four small loaves on Saturday afternoon.  According to one daughter, we put chocolate chips into two of the large loaves.  I recalled putting chocolate chips in three of the large loaves.  We were perilously low on chocolate chips that day.

My oldest son, the chocoholic amongst us, dove mouth first into the first large chocolate chipped loaf.  The other kids opened a non-chocolate chipped loaf.  By the next afternoon, the counter was covered with foil wrappers of various sizes, each filled with someone’s chunk of bread, two of the three small loaves still intact in foil, and, according to several eyewitnesses, two large loaves of bread untouched–one of which was supposedly chocolate chipped and one which wasn’t.  Later, some of us would say we were ‘pretty sure’ we had consumed one whole large chocolate chipped loaf.  Are you taking notes?  This is about to get complicated.

I then remembered that my neighbor had been so kind as to loan me two eggs late one night in late August and had given me the use of her oven in October when, at four in the afternoon and with my daughter’s birthday pie all ready to bake, I remembered that the bottom heating element of my oven was broken.  Bad me.  Here it was the end of November and I had neither repaid her her eggs nor made her a baked goody to thank her for the use of her oven.  Pumpkin bread to the rescue.  Quickly, before anyone else carved into the remaining two large loaves, I sent a couple of the kids over to the neighbor’s with the bread and patted myself on the back for getting that taken care of.

Things were fine until that evening when the chocolate chip lover came upstairs and, in a pumpkin-bread-deprived rage, began to interrogate the family.  Where was ‘his’ bread?  A search party was gathered, the kitchen filled with eyewitnesses, some of whom recalled there being TWO chocolate chipped loaves on the counter, some who recalled two loaves of unknown chippyness being on the counter, and one who threw a red herring by claiming he didn’t like pumpkin bread anyway.  My son adamantly recalled eating some of a chocolate chipped loaf, but no such loaf could be found.  Accusations were hurled.  Tempers flared.  The lone chipless loaf sat neglected on the counter.  Finally, we went through our collective memories, deconstructing the day hour by hour to figure out where the bread went.

Suddenly I had a sick feeling.  Against my will, the powers of deduction brought to mind a most embarrassing of possible outcomes.  How much of the bread did you carve off?  I asked, praying he would say he had eaten half the loaf.  Oh, just the end, my son said.  Oh no, I said.  Like a rogue wave, it hit us all at once just exactly where the bread was.  Without a word my daughter grabbed the two small chipfree loaves and ran to the neighbor’s house where she explained what we THINK might have happened.  They, having blessedly not yet opened the loaf, and with no small amount of confusion, traded it back for the two small ones.

Back home, we sat the bread on the table.  Sure enough.  To the naked eye it looked like a whole, unwrapped, unviolated loaf of bread.  I unwrapped it one end at a time.  The first end was untouched, chocolate chips covering the top.  Did we or did we not have three loaves of chocolate chipped bread or was it three of the plain?  Is it possible that we, with all the best intentions in the world, had given our kind neighbors a loaf of bread previously butchered by a teenaged boy with questionable hand cleanliness?  The truth hung heavy in the air as I unwrapped the second half, the kids waiting breathlessly…

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So, what do you think, dear reader?  Was the bread a virgin loaf, not yet touched by human hands or were we humiliated in front of our generous neighbors?  Did we indeed start out with two loaves of the chocolate chipped bread or had one of us thrown some in the third at the last moment?  Who, of the eyewitnesses involved, was right?  Last, does any of this matter one whit?  Consider carefully, I exhort you, but do not strain yourself.

Because the answer (which I will tell you about in the next post, with a nice little moral attached) is elementary, my dears, elementary…


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