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Standing in kitchen, a purpose emerges

I'm greasing a cake pan.

I'm dipping the napkin in margarine and smearing it around the sides. Pour in the flour and swish, swish, swish. Then turn it over the sink and pat.

My daughter, through all this, is upstairs downloading science notes from a flash drive.

My son? Glued to a basketball game.

Growing up in the 1970s, I thought it was bogus that boys learned woodworking and auto repair while girls were consigned to home economics. I nearly got suspended once after staging an ice cube fight in the classroom kitchen.

And now look.

On this holiday weekend I'm combining flour, buttermilk and Crisco for a cake to serve at a soccer party.

We didn't know from soccer in the 1970s. Girls weren't much for team sports back then, and if they were you wondered.

We did know about nihilism. Today's "future goths'' have nothing on a disaffected kid of my time who was not a cheerleader, not student council, basically stepping around the slackers and the greasers and anyone similarly self-destructive.

What could add less value to the pointlessness of those school days than those twice-weekly hours of home ec?

Then again.

How could they prepare us for the future that was ours any more than today's parents and educators can look ahead and impart something useful?

Could they school the homemaker of the future in shopping for a computer with the right amount of memory, or installing parental Internet controls?

We were all about repealing the draft back then.

Could we envision a war that, lacking a draft, would heap multiple tours of duty on our reservists?

So they taught us to thread sewing machines and sift dry ingredients. Did they know how lethal Crisco was? Maybe not. Even without all the soccer, people seemed a whole lot healthier back then.

I still wish I knew how to tune a car.

But, standing in my pathetic excuse for a kitchen, I want to thank that faceless Hazel who received not a morsel of my respect.

I'm using what she taught me, and next time I'll show my children. They'll get the mechanics. And I'll tell them why they're learning it, though they won't get the reason, at least not now.

It is because you just never know.