Ethan Cutler ‘23 returned to his home in Scarsdale on Saturday only to discover that he would spend the next two months responding to a familiar line of questioning.
On Thanksgiving night, between bites of his mother’s signature pecan pie, Ethan heard the sentence for the first of many times. “What are you planning to do with that?” asked Tom Cutler ‘82, known to Ethan by the more familiar moniker “Dad.” Dr. Cutler, a now-retired neurosurgeon, was concerned by the news that Ethan had recently declared a philosophy major and was even considering doubling in art history.
For a few moments Ethan mumbled about self actualization and the spirit of liberal arts education, only to be saved by a timely interruption. “Hey, what are you planning to do with that?” interjected Simon Cutler ‘30, a recent honors graduate of Scarsdale Middle School, gesturing to the derelict remnants of pecan pie sitting untouched on Ethan’s plate. All could see that there was no pie left in the tin. Ethan’s plate was the last of it.
It seemed that his Williams education had prepared him aptly for this moment. Ethan responded with a curt, “Shut up, you little punk,” before wolfing down one more bite while his younger brother lunged at him, wailing.
Dr. Cutler looked on with tired disdain. As the years dragged on, it was becoming impossible for him to imagine his sons growing up to be the witty statesmen he wanted them to be. As Ethan swatted Simon’s hand away with the back of a spoon, Dr. Cutler wondered why he sent his boy to an elite institution to absorb and wrestle with the canon of Western thought only for him to return home and resort to physical violence.
As Ethan shoveled the last of the pie into his mouth, despite a continuous onslaught from Simon, Dr. Cutler slammed his hand down on the table. Both boys looked over to him and paused their adolescent ritual.
At that moment they both noticed a single pristine slice of pie on Dr. Cutler’s plate.
“I’ll settle this,” said Dr. Cutler. “The first one of you to become a lawyer or an engineer or, I don’t know, find a good summer internship, or call my friend Chuck who works down at that tech company in NYC —” His voice was beginning to rise. Both boys sat straight up in stunned silence. “Whoever doesn’t disappoint me first gets the last slice of pie!”