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Chapter One

"Okay, action," I said. "Sorry, I don't have one of those little black chalkboards to click."

"Dear, those are only when you're actually filming. This is just a run-through," CeeCee Collins said. Whatever it was called, CeeCee instantly went into character and gestured toward the setup for a cooking demonstration spread out in front of her. A series of glass bowls with ingredients, a mixing bowl and a nine-by-thirteen pan, along with an assortment of cooking tools, sat on the dark wood trestle table in her dining room.

She looked the picture of domesticity with her apron, and it was obvious she'd gone into character, because the real CeeCee didn't know which end of a wooden spoon was up.

"I'm so glad to be here," CeeCee said, all smiles as she glanced over us as if we were the audience. "And to be able to share one of the Collins' family recipes is a real treat. I know this recipe so well, I could make it with my eyes closed." She picked up one of the small bowls, checking the label I'd attached to it. "Let's start with the cinnamon." Before anyone could stop her, she'd poured it into the large bowl. Continuing to chat on how she'd learned to cook by watching her mother, she added the contents of each of the small bowls to the larger one, then grabbed a spoon and began to stir everything together. We all cried out no in unison as she upturned the bowl and the clump of ingredients thudded into the baking pan amid a puffy brown cloud of cinnamon.

My name is Molly Pink and the we are the Tarzana Hookers. That's hookers as in crochet. And the Tarzana refers to the Southern California San Fernando Valley community where we meet. We've been together for a while now and our lives have become intertwined. That's not to say we're all sugary and sweet about each other, exactly. It's more like a family - you have your differences but accept each other anyway. In lieu of our regular meeting at the bookstore, we had gathered at CeeCee's, and instead of crocheting, we were playing audience for CeeCee. Only our one male member, Eduardo, hadn't been able to come.

Along with being the leader of our group of yarn fans, CeeCee was our resident celebrity. Up until recently, she'd always been referred to as a veteran actress, which really meant career over. She'd had her own sitcom years ago, and then had been in some movies and television shows before her career slid into the occasional cameo appearance. Everything had changed when she became host of Making Amends. But the reality show turned out to be small change compared to the boost her career had just received from her new film. Though the role she'd gotten was as a secondary character, Caught By a Kiss was a hit movie from the moment it premiered a couple of weeks ago.

CeeCee ignored our nos and smiling all the while, headed toward the part of the table we'd designated as the oven - without any concern that the ingredients were in a big mound in the middle of the baking pan.

"Anybody got any yellow tape?" Rhoda Klein said. "Because this looks like a crime scene to me." Rhoda was one of our newer members. She'd lived in Southern California for over twenty years but had never lost her New York no-nonsense attitude, or her accent.

"I don't understand. What did I do wrong?" CeeCee said, glancing around at us as I grabbed the pan and set it aside.

The recipe for Apple Bumble Crumble was really my recipe, and even though I'd already shown her how to assemble the ingredients, apparently it hadn't sunk in that everything didn't get thrown in the bowl together. So far, the only part she'd excelled at was tasting the recipe at the end of my demonstration.

While I prepared a new setup of ingredients, I tried once again to explain that she needed to spread the apple slices and raisins in the baking pan, then measure the cinnamon and sugar, then in a separate bowl cut the butter into the flour, and finally add the brown sugar, oatmeal and nuts. She reacted to the word cut like it was a foreign language. It wasn't much better when I demonstrated with a pastry blender.

This is ridiculous. You should be doing a crochet demonstration," Adele Abrams said. She'd popped out of her chair and glared at CeeCee. "You're going to be on a national talk show with millions of viewers. Imagine showing off the wonders of crochet."

'Behind the Seams'
by Betty Hechtman

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