When she was nine years old, Ethel sat at Grandma Mo’s kitchen table one day to help peel apples for a pie.  She had just started on one when a worm crawled out of it.  Ethel shrieked and dropped the apple and the peeler, and when her grandmother looked over at her, her pale blue eyes calm, a bit amused, Ethel said, “There’s a worm in there!”

“Would you like a different apple to peel?” Grandma Mo asked.

Ethel nodded.  Saved again by her grandmother, who was as good as any cowboy.

“Try this one.”  Grandma Mo handed her an apple from the little pile she held in her lap.

Ethel began peeling it, but it was full of brown spots.  “Look,” she said, holding up the apple.  Her grandmother nodded, and handed her yet another apple.  A worm hole in that one.  “Every one I pick up has something wrong with it!” Ethel said, exasperated.

“So should we not have pie?” Grandma Mo asked.

Ethel shook her head no.

“I guess what we’ll have to do is cut around those bad parts, huh?”

Ethel said nothing, her lips still in the pout position.  But then she sat up straighter in the chair, stopped pouting, and put into the mixing bowl all the apple parts she could salvage.

~ Elizabeth Berg,
“Mrs. Ethel Manafee and Mrs. Birdie Stoltz”
from The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted

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