LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — There are many differences between men and women, but according to my stepdad Peter one of the most reliable of them has to do with how we slice bread. He pointed this out to me while we were in my kitchen a few months back and I stood with a loaf of bread before me that was decidedly lopsided.
“I take it you have something to do with that?” he asked in his mild Australian accent.
I turned with the smile I only reserve for Peter because I just love him so much.
“Maybe as in indeed?”
“Mayhaps as in yes?”
I bowed my head in mock shame.
“Mayhaps as in yes.”
I don’t know what it is, but for some reason I cannot slice a loaf of bread straight. I start out with the best intentions, positioning the knife at a right angle to the top of the loaf. I start slicing, back, forth, back, forth and then halfway through it all turns to pot: something happens and the knife starts angling inward. The result is a slice of bread that looks like a ramp and a loaf that, as Peter pointed out, looks like a doorstop.
Apparently, I come by this honestly. According to Peter, women the world over have this trouble and, boy, my husband is happy enough to back him on this. Peter has gone so far as to take the knife out of my mom’s hand, so fearful was he in watching her cut a bagel in half. And I’ll, in turn, back my mom on that point: Bagels are tricky when it comes to getting those halves symmetrical. Always, mine are uneven so one half is too big for the toaster slot and it touches the red coils and gets black on the edges. Then the other side is too thin so it gets overly toasted and hard so when I bite into it it scrapes the roof of my mouth.