I’ve never attempted a souffle. I have, on the other hand, made a cake or two and once that oven door slams and the science of deflation takes hold, there’s no getting back what might’ve been. I figure it’s the same with souffles.
I’m wondering if Alice Roosevelt Longworth ever put her hand to whipping up a souffle — or a cake. The firstborn daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, she may have been a hands-on kind of young woman. I’m thinking that she did and thus the quote from Alice used as a title for this blog post today. Olive Johns, the fictional mother of Irene in The True Life Adventures of Irene in White Tights, would’ve enjoyed this common sense way of looking at life, or souffles, or cakes. Irene, on the other hand, might’ve said, “What’s a souffle?” because Irene, to my way of thinking, was even less a cook than I am. For Irene, if the task wasn’t associated with swimming, diving, performance of one kind or another, or bringing home the bacon in support of family — then Irene’s interest was minimal or absent.
Alice Roosevelt was fifteen years old when Irene Johns was born in 1899. When Irene was two in 1901, Alice moved into the White House with her father. I’m thinking Alice was more like Olive than Irene, closer in age to Olive, yet in some ways closer in thoughts to Irene. A biographer of Alice (see ‘Alice,’ by Stacy A. Cordery: A Washington Monument: Her Life and Bold Times [November 1, 2007]), Cordery writes “a female caricature of her father’s most criticized traits — impetuosity, stubbornness, insensitivity.” If I were to write a biography of Irene, the first two traits Cordery mentions relating to Alice would be on target for my human cannonball protagonist — but not the third. My Irene was sensitive — tough-skinned, but sensitive.
Here’s another quote from Alice: “I have a simple philosopy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch what itches.” Yes. Both Irene and Olive nod their heads in agreement. Yes.