Some Saturdays Dad would bring home donuts. He would slip out before my sister and I woke up to run some quick errands. The half dozen of iced pastries waited for us to pour over them, divvying out which ones each person got. Inevitably, the lineup was always the same.
The staple of the selection was the ones that were iced cake donuts. Chocolate, Vanilla, and some light brown mystery flavor were the first to be claimed. Second were the less likely to appear, but infinitely preferred donuts that were sprinkled, glazed and, on occasion, just plain donuts hung out until a welcome hand consumed them.
In lieu of a pre-selected batch, it was apparent that Dad had hand selected each one. In between sips of steamy gas station coffee, my father had chosen each donut with care. What always left me puzzled were the outcast donuts. Chocolate and Vanilla icing was ideal, but what was that mystery third coating? I was in my twenties before I discovered the unrecognizable taste was maple. Why maple? Why not butterscotch like I always thought? Hell, even peanut butter would make for a neat concept. The general distrust of its unknown origin or reasoning made the light brown iced donuts ones to not trust.
More bizarre than the icing was the choices for things to incorporate with them. Sprinkles made sense; cartoons almost always showed them that way. Coconut though always broke my mind. Beyond the semiannual German chocolate cake my mom made for us, coconuts weren’t seen in our house. Like maple, I just didn’t trust it.
So why were those even selected? Dad didn’t eat them much either, instead they went stale as a Ziploc bag helped it go stale. My youth was spent learning to distrust to whole concept. Donuts throughout my entire life were an event to be met with cautious optimism. Without fail, there was always one or two that guaranteed it would be overlooked. It was as if my Dad opted to bring home what were likely orphaned donuts that would eventually be rejected by the host family. To this day, I scrutinize the offer of donuts. I may partake, but the rules I laid out as a child refuse any deviation.
Unbeknownst to him, Dad taught a valuable lesson. Just because something you want comes along, doesn’t mean its what you were expecting. You can take part of it, and leave some on the table, or you can embrace the whole thing.
I hope my Dad never stops getting donuts when my sister or I visit. In fact, I wouldn’t want him to change a thing about his technique. Sure, I’ll scavenge through them and select the most delectable, but it’s not the food I appreciate, it’s that he did it in the first place.
Donuts were just one of hundreds of way my father would show he loved us (thankfully, not all were food-related). And it was things like this that I’ve learned to do for others, either coworkers or family. Thanks to him, I learned just how love you can fit in a single pastry.