The Essential Ingredient

By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, March 11, 2007

There's a message on my voice mail from Nancy.

"Babe?" she says. "I'm trying to make your World Famous Guacamole. What's the secret ingredient again? Mayonnaise?"

Mayonnaise? I'm horrified. No mayonnaise! Ever! Not unless you want greasy guacamole. Terrible. I'm glad she called before ruining everything I stand for, avocado-wise. I phone her back, get her voice mail, tell her to hold the mayo. Then I say "whipped cream cheese" in a low whisper-voice, because of the secret nature of the information.

Something hits me. Why is Nancy making my World Famous Guacamole? There was a time, an era, when the phrase "World Famous Guacamole" was used only in the context of my making it a) for a party at my house or b) to bring to a party at one of the babes' houses. This was because it is delicious and also because I didn't know how to make anything else, but principally because the babes and I used to have parties. Big ones, small ones, sometimes just us babes.

Nancy, Beth, B.K., Wendy, Chris and the others who formed such a tight family. Guacamole or no guacamole, the fact of the matter is, we haven't seen one another. Not for a long time.

We've tried. E-mails fly. Voice mails fly. We rarely find time to even speak live. "We have to get a Girls Night Out going." We check calendars and try to find a common open night, fail. We try again, fail. A few months ago, Beth suggested we at least do a conference call.

A conference call. "It's come to this," I wrote back. "This is tragic."

"I don't think I can do a conference call," B.K. wrote. "It would be crossing a line."

Ever the optimist, Nancy wrote back something about all of us getting together to watch the Super Bowl. But then I had to go away on business. Wendy had to go away on business. Nancy's son got the flu. Everybody was busy.

My phone rings. "Hello?"

"No mayonnaise?" Nancy says. I can hear her panic.

"You already put it in?" I ask.

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