by cheri block
Salwa has a heart bigger than her cinnamon rolls.
Just thinking about Shirley enjoying one of those steamy gobs of sugar, nuts, cinnamon, and dough (oh that dough) with her morning coffee, while I chip my tooth on a hard two-day-old bagel, just fries my fritters.
How Shirley stole my cinnamon rolls last Friday, I will never know. Actually, I do know and this is the story:
First, you must meet Salwa. Let’s hear her on the phone with me last Friday.
Hi Cheri, this is Salwa. Honey, how are you? How’s the family? How’s Ron? He’s such a great guy! God-willing, you’ll have him around longer than I had poor Bill. Oh, I miss my Bill.
Salwa’s husband Bill and my father Hugh were in the same kindergarten class in 1932. Bill and Hugh are somewhere in the cosmos together, complaining about the ineptitude of city government, how they left their wonderful wives too early, and about how–had they eaten fewer of Salwa’s cinnamon rolls–they might still be here today.
Salwa comes from a long line of Lebanese cooks and Lebanese mensches.
Cheri, I want to visit your mom. How is she? She’s one of the dearest people I know. Corrine and I would like to stop by her place on Friday, I’ll bring coffee and cinnamon rolls, Ok, honey?
I met Salwa and Corrine in the lobby of my mother’s retirement home. Salwa was carrying an enormous bouquet of red roses, a Peet’s coffee thermos, and the tray of cinnamon rolls. Looking like a Lebanese Queen in a lovely green wool dress, matching black patent shoes and purse, and gold jewelry, Salwa and her entourage (Corrine and I) made our way to the elevator.
We had a charming visit at my mother’s apartment. Like a baby hamster, Joan did her best to gnaw a small divot into one of Salwa’s cinnamon rolls. I wrapped it up, telling mother that if she nibbled a small wedge of it each morning, the cinnamon roll would last a week.
Little did I know that tucked in Salwa’s black Jaguar out in the parking lot, a cinnamony surprise was steaming up her trunk.
That batch would remain in Salwa’s trunk until later in the day when she remembered she had forgotten to give it to me.
Salwa had forgotten her little black book of phone numbers, so she called Corrine. Did I mention that Corrine’s late husband Speed and my father had been friends for 50 years? That Corrine was one of my mother’s bridge partners? That Corrine and Speed, Hugh and Joan, and Bill and Salwa had known each other a long time? With the exception of the younger Salwa–by at least 15 years–that they all would be pushing 85 by now?
Corrrine, this is Salwa. Honey, I need Cheri’s cell phone number. I forgot to give her the cinnamon rolls for Ron. You know how handsome that Ron is? He’ll love my cinnamon rolls and I want them to be hot and fresh. Well, they won’t be hot, but they will be fresh if I can get them to Cheri today. You know how busy that Cheri is, driving here and driving there.
Corrine did not hear the entire conversation. Why, I do not know. Perhaps the large mountain blocked the cell phone reception. Perhaps something was lost in translation.
Salwa called the number that Corrine gave her. Salwa would apologetically recall later that she engaged in a cryptic conversation with a woman who did not sound like Cheri.
Honey, let’s meet at the McDonald’s at the bottom of the hill. I have a surprise in my trunk for you and Ron, God willing.
Salwa parked her black Jaguar in the McDonald’s parking lot and waited for me to arrive. I would not arrive because I had not been called. In fact,at that time I was twisted into a knot at yoga, dressed in skinny tights and a tight black top, wishing that I had not eaten that cinnamon roll at mom’s apartment that morning.
Another woman pulled her Cadillac next to Salwa’s Jaguar and got out. It was Shirley, the wife of the former hospital administrator, Dick, who like Bill, Hugh, and Speed, had left this earth wishing he’d eaten fewer of Salwa’s cinnamon rolls. Shirley thanked Salwa for her thoughtfulness and put out her hands. Salwa reluctantly surrendered the cinnamon rolls to a person for whom they were not made.
Hello Cheri, this is Salwa. You are not going to believe the story I have to tell you. By the way, I felt so bad that Corrine gave me the wrong number and Shirley took your cinnamon rolls, I made another batch and left them at Ron’s mother Betty’s house just now. They are still hot, honey. Can you pick them up on your way home from yoga?