Sunday, January 10, 2010


“Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid or something?”
“Oh no. It’s just they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”
– The Princess Bride

I've thought a lot lately about the notion of wearing masks. We all don them from time to time, some of us have a collection, each mask distinct and form-fitted for the occasion. Our guises are as varied as our clothing, chosen with a deliberate hand to leave a desired impression. The intention is not always to hide or deceive, but rather to persuade, to woo, or seduce, each persona subject to change according to situation and context.

Sometimes we veil ourselves from the world to protect the soft insides of our shell. But even the hardest veneer inevitably cracks, leaving us exposed. Like Humpty Dumpty we fall, with no one to put us back together again. Other times we mirror our environment, reflecting back the world around us. We prefer cookie-cutter conformity to individuality, afraid of the lone wolf. And then there are those that project a distorted image, hiding their true visage, and we never quite know who they are. I wonder if such camouflage is for the one in disguise, or for the audience they posture to. Do our masks seek to disguise our insecurities, or conceal our true natures? Or are they simply accessories, nothing more complicated than costume for a masquerade?

Often the reflection that stares back at us is as distorted as the unfolding, and refolding of our lives. We grow weary in our own skins, and seek to shed our identities for another. A short respite from the roles that would define to limit us. But each of us has the soul of an onion, and as we peel away the layers, we in turn peel away the labels that conceal our authentic selves. We must dig deep into the heart of darkness, and discover in the unveiling that all the pieces of ourselves exist as one, without distinction.


The following old-fashioned pie recipe is sometimes referred to as Mystery Pie or Ritz Cracker Pie. This is a crustless, airy meringue enfolded with crackers and pecans, all tucked under a smooth layer of whipped cream.

Mystery Pie (aka Hi-Ho or Ritz Cracker Pie)
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup white sugar
20 buttery round crackers, crushed
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease an 8-inch pie pan.
  2. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until whites for stiff peaks. Fold in crackers, 3/4 cup pecans, and vanilla extract. Pour mixture into pie pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm and lightly browned. Remove and cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine whipping cream and brown sugar. Beat until soft peaks form. Spread over cooled pie. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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