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One serving of humble pie is plenty

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Mychal Wilmes column sig

Humble pie is good for the diet.

I’m not referring to Humble Pie, the British supergroup of the late 1960s who hit it big with "I Don’t Need No Doctor,’’ or the delicious dessert with peaches, berries and dough.

A column appeared a couple of weeks ago about the Old Testament’s Rachel, who is a pivotal person in one of the Bible’s greatest love stories. I misidentified Rachel as Ruth, who is the subject of an entire biblical book.

The best and worst about writing is its permanence. A writer cannot and should not hide from a mistake. Wisdom was gained from an early article written about an entrepreneur’s business. Because he was concerned that technical terms were correct, several phone calls were made to double check.

Unfortunately, the spelling of his name never came up. He was upset about the misspelling, which led to several phone messages that were ignored until adequate courage was found to reply.

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It’s difficult to admit a mistake.

There are some who, rather than admit mistakes, go on the attack. Such a person was Roy Cohn, an infamous lawyer who aided Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s search for communists inside the government. The hunt reached its climax with the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954. The senator, with Cohn’s help, ruined the reputations of thousands of Americans despite not having proof of their claims. 

McCarthy’s career was eventually ruined, but Cohn never apologized for his role and continued to thrive professionally.

I took Cohn’s approach in the aftermath of an emergency trip to the grocery store. I returned with tomato sauce, flour and a few other listed things. Kathy said she wanted paste, not sauce and the flour was the wrong brand. It was imperative to go back.

It is 10 miles away, which is why I argued she needed to make do with what was on hand. Despite my ramblings reminiscent of Ralph Kramden on "The Honeymooners," Kathy was unmoved.

A second trip was made, but the fallout from the first lingered in the air like burned spaghetti sauce.

Domestic discord could have been avoided if I had taken the Gipper’s advice to heart. President Ronald Reagan spoke from the White House on March 4, 1987, to admit he had erred in the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved guns and illegal drugs.

"Now, when what should happen when you make a mistake is this: You take your knocks, you learn your lessons, and then you move on… You know, by the time you reach my age, you’ve made plenty of mistakes. And if you live your life properly — you learn. You change. You go forward.’’

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A late and begrudging apology was eventually accepted along with a heaping helping of humble pie.

Speaking of which, we have a few quarts of canned peaches, tomatoes and apples in the pantry. They are rarely served to guests because I fear the potential for botulism caused by faulty home canning. Botulism is a German word that once referred to a specific kind of sausage. If not quickly treated, botulism poisoning can be fatal. The Center for Disease Control finds more than 100 cases each year.

With lots of time on hand, it might be interesting to make real humble pie. All that’s needed is a pie shell, walnuts, sugar or brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. The possibility was raised but received scant support as Kathy relaxes from a what had been a taxing day.

"You know you spelled nuisance wrong in your column,’’ Kathy said. "And this sentence doesn’t make any sense.’’

I had, at that point, consumed the recommended daily allowance of humble pie.

Related Topics: FOOD
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