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October 27, 2014
Life on Planet Kathy
Fried Corn and Scrambled Memories
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Editor's note: Kathy Kidd was on a cruise this Halloween, and was not near a computer to write her column. But she left this column from her pre-Nauvoo Times days to be posted in her absence.

Last week, when I extolled the virtues of the cookies my former roommate Edna used to make for me, I got an email from Daryl, who used to be our roommate while we were still in college (before Edna became Edna and the cookies made their appearance). Daryl asked, “How come neither Edna nor Betty ever made cookies for me? All I remember is fried corn.”

Oh boy, do I remember that fried corn! Daryl used to make it by sautéeing a big onion in a whole stick of butter and then adding a bag of frozen corn. Once the liquid evaporated from the corn as it thawed, it was ready to eat.

For this recipe alone, I think of Daryl as a genius. I still make the corn, and when I took it to a ward dinner one of the Hooper twins came up to me and solemnly said, “That is the best corn I have ever tasted in my whole life!” (She was seven at the time, so she’s hardly lived long enough to be a corn connoisseur. But still —)

Thinking longingly of that fried corn, I flashed a response back to Daryl: “That fried corn recipe of yours is still a killer recipe I use all the time, and I always give credit to you.”

To my surprise she wrote back, “It wasn’t my recipe. It was yours. Totally southern! And I still use it too. And I always give you credit!”

You could have knocked me over with a corn holder. I have such strong memories of Daryl teaching me how to fry corn that I remember standing in the kitchen and peering over her right shoulder as she demonstrated the breathtaking process of gently sautéeing a big chopped onion in a whole stick of butter.

But I didn’t argue because this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened to me.

When my father and two sisters came to visit me after Fluffy and I were married, I fixed them a breakfast from my childhood — scrambled eggs with jalapenos in them. I was dumbfounded when they raved about the novel idea of adding jalapenos to eggs, because that’s the only way I ever remember eating eggs the whole time I was growing up.

Where in the world did I ever get an idea like that if it wasn’t from them?

Our family history features an incident where my mother sat under the dining room table in horror as one of her older sisters chased the other around the table with a butcher knife. Mother was such a graphic storyteller that we had her tell the tale over and over.

The next time we got together with one of our aunts after hearing the story for the first time, we asked her to tell the story. We were flummoxed to hear that when she told the story, she was the one sitting under the table while Mother and our other aunt were doing the chasing and the running.

Later on, we heard the story from the other aunt, who insisted that she herself was the one under the table.

All three of them remembered the incident, but each of them remembered being the terrorized victim hiding under the table. One of them must have been the aggressor, and one of them must have been the runner, but all three of themselves solidly remembered that they were the ones who cowered in fear while the other two acted out the drama.

Memories are not as solid as we think they are. All of us have selective memory. All of us, no matter how hard we try not to, change history in our minds and firmly believe what our minds tell us afterwards — even if it bears no resemblance to the truth.

Whether it’s something as harmless as forgetting who was the inventor of a fried corn recipe or something as sinister as not remembering which sister was the knife-wielder and who was the innocent victim, we tell ourselves the same stories over and over again until they become true to us.

We remember where we were standing when we learned about the fried corn, or we have vivid images of sitting under the table and witnessing an act of horror that we might well have perpetrated.

If our minds can transform us from being the knife-wielding aggressor to being the victim under the table in a situation where we were active participants, how in the world can we expect to judge others for the actions they perform? The answer is, we can’t.

The older I get, the more I suspect that the people who have wronged me in the past may not be as guilty as I believe they are, and that my memory may be painting a lot of pictures where I am the hero under the table instead of the villain wielding the knife. As I remember the scripture, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” it begins to have a personal meaning for me.

What happens if I condemn somebody for something, when I may actually have been the one who did it, or when I may have done it too? The scripture goes on to say, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

What a bummer it would be if in judging someone else, I named my own punishment!

I’m already in enough trouble for doing things I can remember doing. The last thing I need is to heap more trouble upon myself for judging others for things they might not have done, or that I might have done right along with them.

Sometimes Planet Kathy is a scary place.

Copyright © 2023 by Kathryn H. Kidd Printed from