Another day that my sisters and I looked forward to was when my dad’s work had “take your kid to work day.” He would wake us up at 5 am so we could be on the road by 5:30. My dad used to carpool to UCLA, so we had to be at the van early to get prime riding spots. Carpooling was pretty fun and we enjoyed being told by the other passengers how much we “looked like twins”, and “how big we were getting!”, but the real highlight came at about 7 am.
My dad would walk us through Brentwood, the streets quiet and the morning sky just beginning to lighten, until we arrived at a tiny shop called TJ Cinnamon’s that was pumping out sweet smells through its vents. We were always the first customers of the day and were welcomed with big smiles and familiar welcomes. “Mr. Handleman, you’re bringing your kids to work again I see!” My dad would smile and make small talk while my sister and I politely waited by his side, nudging each other as we pretended to be patient. The smell of fresh cinnamon rolls is almost too much to handle as a kid. Warm, spiced and gooey, they were definitely the reason we jumped at the chance to got to “work” with our dad. Another excuse to eat dessert for breakfast?! Yes please!
The pans were baked with cinnamon rolls lined 3×3. Because we arrived so early, we had pick of the first baked, still warm out of the oven buns. Ever the connoisseur, my dad asked the baker for the center roll– only one to a pan, my dad secured us each the softest and best baked roll. Unlike a brownie, where a bit of crispy edge is desirable, cinnamon rolls are best buttery and meltingly decadent.. My dad would then ask for extra glaze, drowning the treat in sugary bliss. This is about the time our eyes glazed over as well. We now each had a cinnamon roll the size of a grown man’s fist, toasty and sweet, enticing us to stuff it in our faces. He’d instruct us how to eat it, so as to not get the sugary soon-to-be-mess in our hair or on our dresses. But even his meticulous instructions on how to eat the breakfast treat didn’t detract from the goodness. My dad is more into food than the average human being, so he does his research and searches out the ‘best of the best’. This cinnamon roll fell into that category. Even in first grade, I would later scoff when we walked past a Cinnabon because I knew where the best cinnamon rolls really lived in Southern California…
So when the time came, and we got to wake up bleary-eyed to accompany our father to the office to play with highlighters and protractors, we knew that an office day with our dad was really just about the minutes we got to share before work, fluttering our eyes and oohing in unison over each intoxicating bite of the doughy roll.