Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 11/15/2021
My grandmother lived to 102 (she may have been 104, but she always lied about her age). She lived to see her great-grandchildren. She had come over from Odessa at age 15.
She made the greatest pickles, and wouldn’t divulge her recipe. One day, my wife went to get one of the jars, and couldn’t unscrew the top. She wondered how this elderly woman could possibly have put the lids on so tight or open them again herself. Then she noticed the soaked off label—my grandmother bought brand-name pickles and removed the identity!
However, she did make the best egg salad in creation, and she did so by using schmaltz (rendered chicken fat). She would never let us know the proportions, but we did see her make it. After she passed away, I (who cannot boil water) actually tried to replicate it. After 40 eggs and pounds of schmaltz, I gave up, a failed experiment.
I’ve never tasted any egg salad like it since.
Of course, I’ve also never seen anyone sing like Sinatra, or pitch like Sandy Koufax, or teach English like my grammar school teachers, or broadcast a baseball game like Vince Scully, or break me up like George Carlin. Is that nostalgia, being seduced by something that can’t happen again, or is it a genuine excellence never replicated?
I think there are periods of excellence and people of quality who are unique and which and who help form who we are. Chris Rock and Adele and Hugh Jackman are terrific, of course, but somehow not as great.
And, in all honesty, I miss the schmaltz.
I am just pitifully nostalgic. I can’t help but roll my eyes at myself frequently. I mean, I still shoot black-and-white film. And I am constantly reminiscing about the “good old days.” I’m 28 years old. There haven’t even been that many “good old days.” But still, I love to look back. —Chris Lowell
Now and then, when I grow nostalgic about my ocean childhood—the wauling of gulls and the smell of salt, somebody solicitous will bundle me into a car and drive me to the nearest briny horizon. —Syliva Plath
Age is such a high price to pay for maturity. —Tom Stoppard