The Art of Peeling an Egg
I made hard boiled eggs with bacon and honey-butter biscuits for breakfast this morning. It felt weird to celebrate Father's Day without a father for the third time.
I stood at the sink, peeling the eggs, thinking about Daddy and how we had been at odds for a great portion of my life. We butted heads and I once went five years without speaking to him. I didn't think he really noticed. It was always me who made the phone calls, making conversation about things that interested him. He would talk to me longer that way.
We spoke of cars he liked, cars that got the best gas mileage, since he was always in the market to buy a new car. He just couldn't take the leap and actually make the purchase. Decisions regarding spending money paralyzed him, even more so as he got older.
We talked about the stock market and the most recent stock The Voice of the Lord had instructed him to buy. The Lord was quite specific with those purchases, telling him about margins and selling short and all kinds of technical things that I didn't quite understand. It typically didn't end up going the way that he (and the Lord) intended, and he and Mama lived on a very tight budget for the 58 years they spent together. In hindsight we think he suffered from undiagnosed schizophrenia.
As it turns out, someone told me that Daddy was devastated by the telephone call standoff, begging my mom to call me to apologize for whatever had caused the standoff in the first place. I am sure neither of us really remembered.
One day I just picked up the phone and made the call. It was as if the five-year hiatus had never happened. He told me about his most recent epiphany regarding the peeling of hard-boiled eggs. Having been a mechanical engineer as well as a rocket scientist for NASA once upon a time, he thought about efficiency in design and this translated into everyday things: how to make the simple things in life more efficient. He had put a lot of thought into this egg-peeling thing. Why did some eggs lump and bump and lose a great portion of the egg white in a peeling while other eggs practically peeled themselves?
He thought about the shape of an egg. He sketched it on a sheet of draft paper he always had on hand. A perfect oval with one wide end and the other end narrowing, almost to a point. He used some math I didn't quite grasp to work it out. Where to start the peel? How could math and science make the peeling of an egg more consistent and efficient?
It had something to do with always starting at the wide end of the egg and tapping the shell a certain number of times to ensure the membrane that covered the egg white, would be caught up in the shell as you peeled. That was the key. Getting the membrane. He was onto something big. No more lumpy destroyed eggs for us. Eggs so smooth, it was a shame to cut into them.
I peeled eight eggs using his technique this morning, all perfect except that one that had cracked as it boiled. I wonder what he would come up with for that conundrum. I wish I could pick up that phone and ask him.
Lisa H. Owens
Inspired by boiled eggs and my Daddy.
Father’s Day, 2021.
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