July 6, 2001
I once was out with a bunch of my male
friends, having a beer, when one of them asked out of the blue:
"Do you ever think about your role as a man?"
Talk about a conversation stopper
at least after we all stopped snorting and realized he was serious.
It was one of those lines that guys only cross with caution.
Like a manly hug which should only last long enough for
one slap on the back and have a clean release. Or crying at anything
other than an playoff game.
Unknowingly, I wandered into one of these
situations today. On my way home I ran into Jeremy, one of my
good friends I happen to work with. He had made a stop on the
way home from work and had a box under his arm. It was a box
of jam jars.
"So, you making jam tonight?"
I jokingly said. The look on his face made it clear I had crossed
one of those unspoken manly lines. Or the only thing worse -
I had caught him crossing one.
"Yep," he admitted. "I'm
So it turned out he had been strawberry
picking on the weekend and got carried away. I don't blame him.
At a buck or two a basket, it seems like quite a deal at the
time. Especially after the ones we get from California the rest
of the year that cost a dollar a piece and are made of wood.
The only problem with the fresh ones is that they only last a
few days after they pick them.
Hence the jam.
You have to understand that earlier that
day I listened to Jeremy earnestly discussing NHL draft picks.
He's been hauling around rocks to build a deck and plays a mean
game of pool in some pretty questionable bars. In short, he's
not what at first glance you'd consider to be a jam-making kind
"So," I ventured further into
dangerous territory, "how much jam are you making?"
"Well, this is my second box of
jars. I filled a dozen last night."
Unmanly or not, I was now determined
to get myself a jar. Especially now that I knew there was a couple
"Do you seal them with wax?"
I asked. I remembered my grandmother doing that when she made
the world's best grape jelly. And melting anything on the stove
was pretty cool.
"No, if you heat the jars in the
oven you can sterilize them without having to use the wax."
One of my fondest memories was cracking
the wax plug on a fresh jar of my Grandmother's jam. Of course
it also meant that if you did it wrong you'd be spreading wax
chips on your toast for a week.
I was really starting to get into the
discussion. "What about pectin?" I asked, "And
I hear adding a little lemon juice can give the jam a real zing."
A guy across from us reading the sports
pages was starting to look at us funny.
"So, how about those Blue Jays?"
I said loud enough for him to hear. "Did they ever stink
up the field last time out."
To heck with him, whoever he is. He's
not getting any of my jam.