When I was growing up in Toronto we used to be members at a place called The Granite Club. It was every bit as stuffy as the name implies, but for our athletically inclined family it was our home away from home.
The Granite Club sits on the edge of a ravine, and offers a smattering of waspy sports – lawn bowling, squash, badminton, and the like. And of course, that curious cult-like Canadian sport: curling. Although I never curled regularly, I did try it a few times, and can tell you convincingly that it’s not my thing. Sweeping floors seems more like a chore, not a sport. I hope I haven’t offended anyone.
Although I dabbled in skating and swimming, my favorite activity was tennis, where I took lessons each week with my coach Gary.
Gary was an affable guy with furry legs and tight white shorts that fell within the club’s 10% color regulation. I’m still prudishly judgmental when I see Serena Williams take to the courts wearing black and neon pink. This type of violation would have been punishable by law at The Granite Club. Security guards would have whisked you away like some kind of White Collar criminal.
Maybe The Granite Club was too clean cut for my image because I fought back with some early stage rebellion. On my 10th birthday I begged my mom for a short haircut and a triple piercing in each ear.
She gave in. I appreciate the fact that she was so supportive of my personal style choices, however misguided. The problem arose when I asked my hairdresser to leave a rat tail in the back. “Keep it short, but please leave a long stringy tail” I suggested to Gerald as the manly haircut took shape.
The end result wasn’t pretty. Rating lower than a mullet on the Hairstyle Attractiveness Index, it was the kind of cut that would have gotten me laughed straight out of middle school.
Which is why Gary saved my life. Hours after the cut, I arrived for my lesson and was greeted by a blank stare. “Wow, that’s a horrible haircut.”
I was crushed. I liked Gary; I respected his opinion. We were usually all business on the tennis court. I was there to improve my game and beat my nemesis, who was lazy but precise. Style wasn’t ever a topic of conversation, nor did I want it to be. Here I was with a foolish haircut that was distracting both of us from the job at hand. It was like playing a game of Chess with whipped cream on the end of my nose.
I had to put a stop to my self-inflicted mortification. As soon as I got home, I snipped the tail.
Tennis was the name of the game at our next session. I still had the short hair that would take me a nearly a year to re-grow, but my other, more serious transgression had been eliminated.
Also back to normal was my after-tennis routine, which involved heading upstairs to the cafeteria for some cinnamon toast and a Peach Snapple chaser.
For a club full of women in knee-length plaid skirts and muted locker room conversations, the cafeteria packed some heat. Greasy burgers, sloppy grilled cheese, and of course the cinnamon toast, which was two pieces of Wonder bread, toasted and slathered in a chocolate-colored cinnamon spread.
I hadn’t eaten this cinnamon toast for 20+ years, and last week had the sudden urge to make it .The kids will be at day camp this summer and tennis is on the agenda. In a reverse Proustian moment, Lauren’s Junior-sized tennis racquet triggered a flood of Granite Club food memories.
Why hadn’t I made this in over 20 years? I’m still berating myself.
It’s so easy a caveman could do it! If they weren’t so busy buying GEICO insurance, they’d be making cinnamon butter all day long.
And hide those thoughts of buttered bread with a delicate sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.
This is Texas-style cinnamon butter. To be honest, I don’t know if they make it in Texas, but I’m pretty sure that if I asked Tim Love to make me some cinnamon toast it would look just like this:8 comments