My fiance just delivered the news — he told my future inlaws I’d bring a homemade dessert to our very first dinner together that evening.

“We’re going in two hours!” I cried when he called to confess. “And I have nothing to make.”

“Sweetie, I know you can do it. I told them you’re a whiz in the kitchen.” Talk about an overstatement. I could cook a passable veggie lasagna and had moderate success with casseroles. But a whiz? The man must really love me.

“I told them you’re getting me to eat more healthfully,” he went on. “They were very impressed.”

So not only did I have to make something fabulous, it had to be nutritious, too. I quickly got off the phone and powered on my computer.

I surfed the Internet and settled on a recipe for individual berry parfaits. Then I thrust my feet into flipflops and grabbed my purse. I was on my way out when my cat, Jeffrey, started howling. Right. I needed to replenish his food supply or he wouldn’t allow me back in the house.

On the way to the store, I reflected on my choice. A berry parfait was the ideal mix of sophistication and nutrition. And it was easy enough to be foolproof. This was just the thing to quell my future inlaws’ fears that I wasn’t at all right for their son.

At the market, I threw my ingredients into my cart. Then I remembered Jeffrey and tossed a carton of dry cat food onto the pile.

Back home I noticed I had only thirty minutes before I was due to pick Rick up at the office. I quickly washed the berries as Jeffrey wove in and out of my legs. I tore open his new box of Tuna Crunchies and fed him. I shoved the carton under the sink and ignored the cat’s continued meows — I had no time for his finicky ways.

I found four crystal glasses and began creating my masterpieces, using the kitchen counter as my work space. Alternating layers of yogurt, fruit, and light whipped cream. As a final touch, a scoop of granola on top.

With no time to put any of the ingredients away, I carefully arranged the glasses in a shallow cardboard box and ran upstairs to get ready.

We were having a lovely time at dinner when Rick came down with one of his migraines. We begged off dessert, telling his parents to enjoy our share as well, and I drove him home.

Despite feeling badly for Rick, I was ecstatic. Larry and Shirley had exclaimed over the elegance of the dessert when I brought it in, and conversation had flowed easily from there. I was certain I’d won over my inlaws and my future happiness was now assured.

I walked into my kitchen to find the granola box lying on its side, pieces of cereal strewn across the counter, and Jeffrey happily gulping down bite after bite.

Then I realized my error. It wasn’t granola the cat was inhaling.

It was Tuna Crunchies.

Carol Ayer is a freelance writer living in Northern California. Her publication credits include “Woman’s World,” “The Prairie Times,” “The Christian Science Monitor,” and three “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books.

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