French Butter

Lorin Ledger
8 min readMay 23, 2023

Ever since Chuckie and Bambi had tasted the Madeleines at the French store, and because the proprietor had told them that they tasted so good because of the French butter they were made with, it had been on their hearts to buy some French butter from her store one day. Chuckie, after all, does like to cook.

The couple had met in the senior’s home where they both lived. Chuckie was Bambi’s second boyfriend, but Chuckie had been married a few times. He was being very careful about this relationship. He didn’t want it to go sour, and was afraid that his fears would scare her off, so he was as careful with her as he knew how to be.

Bambi had a boyfriend in high school, but he went to Pakistan and never returned, as promised. It broke her heart for 40 years, and now she was in love again. She didn’t want Chuckie to be upset with her for any reason, so she bent backwards to please him. She massaged him, did his dishes (and even claimed to love doing dishes), bought him food, and came over whenever he wanted to see her.

But sometimes, being upset with one-another can break a needed barrier that politeness holds together. And sometimes all it takes for the ballasts of politeness to crumble is low blood sugar.

And this is how low blood sugar levels happened to be in both of them at the same time.

The couple passed the French store every Sunday on their way to church, and again on their way back. It is on the Danforth and they were sure it was not in a particularly good part of the Danforth, especially for a French store of that type. Every Sunday they exclaimed, as they passed the tempting store, that it would be much better further down the street, near where the Tim Horton’s is. That’s quite a ways down the street, but they would certainly do better business there.

It also happened to be that every Sunday after Church, for the past few weeks, Bambi and Chuckie had been going downtown to different malls and the various museums and art galleries in Toronto. Lately it had been malls, and momentum had built up so that the thought of not going to a mall was becoming a bit foreign to them. The next mall wasn’t really a mall but a shopping district called Yorkville, was mostly outdoors, and so when a nice Sunday arrived, they had said, they should go there. And, this was a nice Sunday.

Chuckie, who had been fit for most of his life, had recently built up a bit more around his waist for Bambi to love. Bambi could have used a fair bit of that extra weight for herself, but she was set in her eating habits of one meal a day at breakfast. Chuckie thought that was a good idea, the meal a day part, but he decided to do the eating part of the habit in the afternoon. He had done the YouTube research and was sure he was on the right path.

I may be old, but I’m with it, he often thought.

This difference in eating times, of course, led to a conflict, but each were trying to accommodate the other. Chuckie had tried to do the morning breakfast with Bambi for a week because of his love for her, and today Bambi was going to try the afternoon lunch with Chuckie because of her love for him.

They could have gone to a church just down the street five minutes, but Chuckie liked the church on Danforth. So, Sunday mornings were a nice one hour walk, mostly because Chuckie’s active bladder necessitated a strategic route past a couple of coffee shops.

And so, at 10 o’clock on a particularly nice Sunday in Spring, Bambi knocked on Chuckie’s door and they began their journey to church.

On the way down the elevator, Bambi was doing up her coat and glanced at him with only her eyes. “Hungry?”

“Yes,” replied Chuckie, then he thought about the cookies that would be served after mother’s day service. His stomach then grumbled.

They then walked out the senior’s building where they lived and started up the hill hand-in-hand.

The couple weren’t in the market for a house, but they, like most people who go to open houses, wanted to be. Obviously, since it was a Sunday, there would be an open house or two that afternoon, according to the signs in front of some houses they walked by.

Yorkville had already been discussed, and other plans like eating lunch at Tim Horton’s, finding a nice coffee shop to relax in, and doing some baking (with French butter), walking together in a park, going for a swim, eating ice cream, and going for a bike ride, were part of the conversation when it came to plans for the afternoon.

And so, the plans started piling up beyond the capacity of any method of managing time there ever was nor ever could be. However, because it was a Sunday afternoon, it was, according to Chuckie, okay to make a lot of conflicting plans in the hopes that at least one or two would work out.

Bambi did not know this was the way Chuckie was thinking. But they were a new couple and she wanted to be polite, so she calculated the schedule for the plans in her mind:

How long would it take to travel to Yorkville, look around, perhaps buy something? What time are all the open houses? When can we get to Tim Horton’s? Is baking on a day you want to start a fast a good idea? When should we pick up the French butter. How were we going to ensure it didn’t melt before getting home? When is he going to do this baking of his?

How late is Chuckie planning on going to bed?

Chuckie was unaware of all this activity in Bambi’s head, and was planning to go to bed at 8:00 as usual.

Church was fine, the sermon got everyone thinking about the power of mothers and women, and the cookies were Madeleines from the French store. Chuckie loved Madeleines, but to be polite in front of his new girlfriend, he only took one. That will impress her, he had thought.

And so, without thinking too much about all the plans that had been made, and as they walked by the French store, Chuckie voiced his desire to go in to see if they could buy some French butter.

Bambi, whose expertise at scheduling Chuckie’s plans had reached the end of her sugar level, it now being one p.m., thought it prudent to let Chuckie know that he was making a mistake. The butter, she told him, would have to be walked home first, before Yorkville and the open house. If they carried it around with them downtown, it would melt.

Blood sugar levels didn’t help Chuckie’s attitude either, so he just said, “Okay, later then,” and fell silent all the way to Tim’s.

And that is why they began to walk rather rapidly for two old people, all the way to Tim’s, which was quite a distance from the French store.

It should be noted at this point that Chuckie was getting tired of Tim’s, which Bambi had a hard time understanding. Also, what may be beneficial to know is that Chuckie had decided to only eat salad today (minus one Madelaine), and although Tim’s usually has salads, this Tim’s didn’t.

Bambi, or her low blood sugar levels, was determined to get her Tim’s sandwich, so she ordered one. Chuckie ordered a latte and sat down, rudely not waiting at the counter to pick up the order like a gentleman with normal blood sugar levels would usually do. After Bambi ate her sandwich and downed her tea, the couple got up and went to look for a restaurant that served salad.

I forgot to mention, they happened to be in Greek town and today was mother’s day. Chuckie’s desire for Greek salad would have been better on another day, but his low sugar levels failed to send him that memo. They eventually found a Greek restaurant that had a free table for two in a corner that would let them in.

And so, there they sat, quiet, in the corner of a Greek restaurant, fighting low blood sugar levels to be polite to one-another. Bambi was quiet. Chuckie was quiet. They weren’t getting served. The restaurant was noisy and the food that was getting served to Greek families looked and smelled delicious.

Chuckie knew something needed to be said, but he looked down at his phone. Perhaps he should say something, but it would be like pulling the pin from a grenade.

But it needed to be done, so he pulled the pin and asked, “You seem a little upset.”

“Why you want buy French butter?” she asked.

“Well, we were passing by.”

“It will melt. We going to Yorkville.”

“It will be fine. They can wrap it.”

“But we going to be out for a long time. It will melt. We going to walk in park an go for bike ride and you want to go for swim. It will melt, so we pick it up later. Why today?”

“It would have been fine,” he said.

“I don’t want to sit here while you eat. I go to Shoppers.”

“It’s okay. You can eat some of my salad.”

“I don’t want your salad. I go to buy butter. I don’t mind walking to there,” she finally said as she stood up.

Chuckie knew better. He let her go to buy the butter. But that’s not what she did. She went to her home instead.

The waiter finally came and Chuckie ordered the Greek salad his blood sugar level demanded. It came quickly, he downed it fast, leaving a couple of olives for Bambi, and then sat there and waited for her to return from the French store.

Finally, he thought he should probably leave, so he bent over to pick up his hat, which was on the back of his seat, and looked back at the table, and there was Bambi plopping herself down on the chair opposite him. She takes the butter from the bag and says, “Here! I got your butter! Happy?”

Chuckie knew by her tone of voice that perhaps he shouldn’t be happy. So, he did what any man, wise or unwise, does when faced with such a situation, and remained silent. If you don’t stay still and be quiet it won’t strike; this is a move men have been conditioned to do over thousands of years of instruction handed down from hunter to hunter.

Suddenly she stood up, unwrapped the butter and threw it at Chuckie. The grenade had gone off. Luckily for her, the butter had melted a bit as she had predicted, and she watched long enough to see it slide down Chuckie’s shirt. “Enjoy your French butter,” she shouted, and stomped out past shocked customers and wait staff.

Chuckie watched her leave, picked as much of the butter as he could from his shirt, and said, “check please.”

When he got home Chuckie changed and texted Bambi, “I guess we need to talk.”

When she came over they looked at each other and burst into laughter. The following talk weaved its way through serious conversation and bouts of spontaneous laughter.

And their relationship grew stronger, held together by honesty and French butter.

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Lorin Ledger

Moving towards retirement as a novelist. I write because I'm compelled to.