There’s a scene in The Way We Were where Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) gets herself all worked up, her words rushing out, telling Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford) why he absolutely must stay for dinner because she’s just run around town picking up all the ingredients for the meal, including a pie.
He looks at her for a moment, takes a beat in contrast to her nervous energy, and then utters one perfectly understated line: What kind of pie?
Which reminds me of a story. It isn’t really about pie; it’s about building foundations. But since lots of dessert lovers will tell you that a pie is only as good as its foundation — its crust, if you will — well, I think you’ll see the connection. The story concerns a little something we refer to in our home as the Foundation Speech. To wit:
B. and I met as teenagers from neighboring towns. We dated sporadically and then, after college, lived our lives on opposite coasts, seeing each other infrequently and keeping in touch occasionally. (This is the time my mother-in-law insists on remembering as the era of my tracking B. around the country. Untrue. It is the time, however, when he sent me a bouquet of birds-of-paradise while in Hawaii. And a very flirtatious valentine.)
After a spur-of-the-moment, reconnecting phone call in March of 1996, B. and I made plans for me to visit him (he was living in Santa Barbara at the time) for a week in May. The visit was perfect. The time was right. And I knew I had to act. The day before I flew back to New York was my moment.
Me: Terrific visit.
He: Absolutely great.
Me: So … I’ve been thinking. What happens next?
He: What do you mean?
Me: (Really?!) I mean, what’s next for us?
He: Oh, I don’t know. I guess we’ll just see what happens.
Me: (Oh, no. No, no, no. This is not the way this is going to go down.) You know, I don’t think so.
He: What do you mean?
Me: (Okay, here it is, better go for it and talk fast so you get it all out.) I mean, we’ve known each other forever. You’re the one who said that we’ve always had this amazing chemistry — and I agree. What we’ve built over these past few days is a foundation. And we’ve got to build on that foundation by seeing each other often — otherwise we’ll be going back to square one each time. (Getting worked up.) I think we should set up another visit around July 4th. And then another one after that. Because when something like this — like us — comes along, you’ve got to keep nurturing it and building on it. And that’s what I think. (Hyperventilating. Waiting for response. Sure that this is the end. Mentally packing my bag.)
Me: Because I really believe that — wait. Did you say okay? Really? Just like that? (Breathing normalizing.)
Perfectly understated. And easy as pie.
ⓒ 2016 Claudia Grossman