At my grandma’s house I read her Better Home and Garden’s Cookbook from the late 1940s. The descriptions of how to entertain guests, the pictures of the food, and the fact that some ingredients were a “No. 2” can of tomatoes (what’s a No. 2 can?) were a kick to see. Reading the most important part of the cookbook– the cookies section, of course– I landed on a recipe that called for one cup of molasses. One cup! As a molasses lover, I could not pass this up. These cookies I had to try. These would be perfect to share with my friends at the dinner picnic for Shakespeare in the Park. We planned to see A Comedy of Errors.
The title was rather prophetic as there was an error, but not at all funny. On Wednesday night, someone stole the theater’s lighting and sound equipment. The Thursday show was cancelled. My friend, Pat, who had already made the main course, salvaged the evening by inviting us all over to her house for dinner. I baked my cookies and had a good time visiting and meeting new people. Pat served a light chicken salad mixed with celery, green grapes, almonds, pecans, and mayo with a green salad on the side. We ate off of lovely pink china and used the silver. Even though every thing was high class, nothing felt pretentious. It really made me wish I had nice china and kept my silver at home, so I, too, could enjoy nice things everyday.
While we had a great evening with good food and company, my mind drifted back to those who stole all of the equipment and the fallout of their actions. Everybody’s plans were changed. The theater company is going to lose money– from a cancelled show to rescheduling subsequent shows to an earlier time to make use of the daylight. They have to reimburse for Thursday’s tickets and are selling the rescheduled shows at a reduced cost. The theft deteriorates the sense of community and undermines the theater’s work. This is a constant in life, but I was reminded how the actions of a few hurt the many.
Turning on the news this morning and learning of the massacre in Aurora, Colorado only built upon this theme. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around the terror and fear felt by those in the theater felt and will feel for a long time. And the question I have, as well as many others do, is why did this happen? Not why did James Holmes do it, which can possibly be answered by his desire to live out a fantasy as he did call himself “The Joker”. It is senseless to ask for a logical reason “why he did it” when his act defied logic and doesn’t make any sense. No answer that he can provide as to why he did what he did will suffice. There is no “why” for his actions– there’s only the “what”. The news networks have replayed, reanalyzed, and reported what he has done.
The only “why” in this tragedy that can be answered in any real way is “why was he allowed to do what he did?”. When James Holmes walked into that theater, he had riot gear, a gas mask, four guns, possibly 600 rounds of ammunition, and smoke bombs. All of this he purchased legally. In the aftermath of the tragedy, both Obama and Romney sent forth the usual platitudes: “Solemn moment… time of reflection… hug your family… be considerate of others… blah, blah, blah.” What I’d really like to hear is, “Look, I know a lot of you mo-fos love your guns and all, but it’s time to get your heads out of your asses and give up some of your ‘rights’. WTF is a 24 year old doctoral student doing packing major heat? More gun control. Now!” Neither man running for office mentioned guns today. I know, I know, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But our lax gun policies make it very easy for people to buy guns which make it very easy to kill people. I know there are background checks in place, but James Holmes only had a traffic violation to his name. This doesn’t raise a red flag. Background checks on someone’s past cannot predict their future behaviors. How many stories have we heard about of nice normal people who snapped?
I don’t own a gun, never used a gun, and do not plan on doing either. Having one in the house would not make me feel safer, but instead would make me feel less safe. Knowing that other people own guns and possibly carry them doesn’t make me feel safe. I know many people disagree with me, and they would state how guns make them feel more secure. But would having the likes of George Zimmerman living nearby make you feel safer? The pro-gun camp most likely would remind me of the poorly worded 2nd amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Therefore, I should not infringe on their right to own weapons. However, this right is not an absolute right. The First Amendment does not protect all language– slander, fighting words, are hate speech not shielded from scrutiny. And the language of the second amendment suggests regulation. Many scholars see the connotation of “Militia” and “right of the people” to mean individual rights, while others see it as the past need to have an armed populace for the lack of a standing army. The pro-gun camp believes that it is their individual right to own guns. I want to zero in on the second clause, “being necessary to the security of a free State.” The point of keeping arms is to provide security, but what happens when that security has been breached? Are semi-automatic weapons necessary for security? Are endless rounds of ammo necessary for security? Our history of mass shootings and daily gun violence show that we are no longer in the realm of security. We need to provide real gun control that honors people’s rights to own guns (it is constitutional), but also protect people from guns. We do not need guns that fire 50-60 bullets per minute. Limiting those types of guns and magazine cartridges can go a long way to limiting the amount of damage one can do when they decide to live out their violent fantasy. As of right now, not “infringing” on the right to own guns is killing us.
Anyway, I made the molasses cookies. They were a hit at the impromptu dinner party and at Steve’s band practice. Here is the recipe:
Cream together 3/4 cup shortening with 1 cup sugar.
Add two well-beaten eggs and 1 cup molasses; beat well.
Sift together 4 cups of flour, 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1 tsp. each of salt, baking soda, and ginger.
Add dry ingredients to batter alternately with 3/4 cup cold, strong coffee. Beat after each addition.
Drop by teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool on cookie rack.
Makes 7 dozen cookies.
These are cake-like cookies that are very plain aesthetically. To jazz them up, you may want to create a glaze to drizzle over them. A regular confectioner’s sugar glaze or a lemon glaze would work well.
The resource I used regarding the Constitution is The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution by Linda R. Monk.