Try not to kill anybody




Some people have mottos that they live by. Harvard University’s motto is pretty famous and simple, “Veritas,” which means truth. The Olympic games has one that’s quite inspiring, “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” or “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” My own’s a little more prosaic, “Try not to kill anybody.”

This applies to a number of things in my life: driving, babysitting, cooking. It’s pretty sound advice and it doesn’t hurt to be reminded occasionally.

I was scared to get my driver’s license. Not so much because of driving itself, but because I was afraid I’d hurt someone. I still worry about that. And deer. I don’t want to be responsible for injuring or killing someone because I’m changing the radio station and don’t see a guy walking along the road. I’ve done some stupid things while driving, missed seeing entire vehicles in the mirror or because of the design of my vehicle. I try to be careful.

I also think it’s crazy that people let me take care of their children. I remember the first time I held my nephew when he was a few days old. His mom was upstairs sleeping and his dad was on the way to pick up the new Grandma from the airport. I spent the afternoon with my finger under my nephew’s nose so I could make sure he was still breathing. Somehow, he survived my supervision and so have the nieces left in my care. I’m so glad they’re old enough to mostly take care of themselves and I’m really¬† just there for emergencies or horsey-rides (or tortoise rides, since I’m slower than I used to be). My usual motto of “Try not to kill anyone,” has developed a corollary: “No bleeding while Auntie’s in charge.

This week, I’ve been applying my motto to my cooking. I’m wary of cooking for people, in general, because I really want people to enjoy what I make. I’m critical of my results, maybe more so than those who are just happy to have something eat. I’m not a great cook, though I enjoy it. But I really like to bake. Right now, there’s a cheesecake in my oven. I attempted to make it yesterday, but I’d put the cream cheese out to soften Saturday night. I didn’t get around to making the cheesecake then. I thought I’d do it the next day and didn’t. In fact, it was Wednesday night before I had time to bake.

Turns out, cream cheese really needs to be refrigerated. It wasn’t moldy. It just smelled funny. Kind of sweet, like when your milk’s not quite gone bad but it’s not quite right, either. I could have tried it. It might have worked. Or I might have poisoned my coworkers with whom I was planning to share it. When in doubt, go to the motto.¬†So, that stuff went in the garbage and I stopped at the store on the way home to get fresh cream cheese. Chances are good no one will die.

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