Plain Donuts by Diane Condon-boutier

Once a week, I go to a bakery. Lined up in rows are cupcakes, shortbreads, pumpkin bars, lemon cheescakes. Every week, I get the joy of picking out one special treat, my only treat for the week, and I always choose something different. Last night, it was a brownie with a chocolate fudge raspberry icing. With Irish cream coffee, of course.

So Diane's story Plain Donuts made quite an impact on me. My husband said, "Yes, that could have been you." Except, after all that studying and dreaming, I never would have picked plain. No, I would have gone for something special, perhaps one with nuts or cream filling or chocolate.

Of all the stories in the Ménage à 20 anthology, I think Plain Donuts stands out the most in my mind, not necessarily as my favorite, but as the one that haunts me. There is a hidden tale that speaks to me, reminds me of the gift life is, and calls me to enjoy the experience before me. There's wisdom in that small gesture, in appreciating, savoring, the good things we've been given.

I contacted Diane and asked her for an interview. She wrote back with some comments about what inspired the story and her own take on breakfast.

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Well, I do love to go to donut shops when I'm visiting home in the States, and I've always wondered who ordered the plain ones. Why would anyone do that? There's such an orgy of colors, flavors and unique combinations of jams and chocolat, that plain just seems inconceivable. Until one day I realized that sometimes it's not what you eat, but where you eat it, and who you're with.

You mentioned breakfast. A bowl of cereal scarfed down standing in front of the sink followed by a mug of coffee while driving to work is feeding your body: necessary but devoid of much pleasure. The same mug of coffee and bowl of rice krispies can be savored outside on the patio furniture on a sunny day with somebody you like to talk to. While all of our days aren't sunny, it sure makes you like the ones that are. And your rice krispies taste a whole lot better if you put a banana in them and smile at the person you love who's sitting next to you, talking about the day to come, or what your plans for the weekend are.

So, you can imagine all the fun you could have with exotic donuts....right? However, some people simply like the plain ones, shared with somebody special. That special person can be yourself, if you take the time to chew slowly and enjoy the flavor. Life rushes by so quickly that sometimes you forget to chew it. I know people who have indigestion of life because of that very thoughtless consumption of it. As you mentioned before, wisdom can come from enjoying your breakfast.....

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If only she were at our house, she could enjoy her breakfast with 3 children who dance about the table after every bite.

You can download this story for free by going to the Ménage à 20 site. If you would like to discuss the story with the author or with other readers, please check out the author groups on Facebook and Goodreads.


  1. So what did you eat for breakfast? Where did you eat and who did you eat it with?

    I ate scrambled eggs with green onions and hot sauce at the kitchen table with my 3-year-old. She never sits still for a meal long enough to actually more than a bite or two unless I'm there eating with her.

    She usually sings at the table or tells me strange stories, making the whole meal more enjoyable.

  2. I think we all enjoyed Diane's story very much. Many of us can relate to the main character.

    I have breakfast alone, but I can make it special too. I took myself to IHOP the other day after work, and stuffed myself with pancakes and drank much good-tasting coffee. Of course, I grabbed my journal and wrote random thoughts on it. I had fun.

    Very nice post, madame.


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