--Katherine Anne Porter
|Jack camps out in The Cave|
It has been the idyllic living situation. He likes to shop and decorate, and I like to cook. By the time I got home from work, he'd fixed the stereo and had Iris DeMent playing and had somehow found a roaring fireplace on HD TV. A warm cashmere sweater was waiting for me with my pajamas, and the Cave was softly lit and scented by a delightful series of what I imagine to be $432,000 candles.
The first night, we made my grandmother's macaroni and cheese. I had no idea I even knew how to make it. I tested a trial run, with coaching from my fellow southern pal Rache, the week before on my BFF. We agreed it was good, but I had made too many substitutions. Penne pasta. Fancy cheeses. A pecan crust. Not what I had in mind.
So once he arrived, we walked to DiscoKroger in The Driving (if hyperbolic) Snow for a box of honest-to-God elbow macaroni. I had never bought it. Never made it. You would be surprised how far a box of that stuff goes, as we ended up with 42 gallons of mac and cheese. (We're down to two or so now.)
The next morning before work, I somehow whipped up biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast (again, I had no idea I knew how to make sausage gravy, but it turns out, I do).
By this point, it's fair to say that the kitchen was coated, floor to ceiling in a fine film of butter and flour. There was butter in crevices I didn't even know existed. (But by the time I got home from work, order had miraculously been restored.)
Last night, to celebrate his birthday, he treated everyone to a big night of Theater, and then we happened upon the one place in town that had Lamb Chops as the Special. After which, we concluded that we now completely believe in The Secret and the Law of Attraction and maybe even Oprah, because -- since we had had at least roughly 37 conversations about lamb chops this week (in connection with planning the Christmas dinner menu) -- we are completely convinced we conjured them onto this Menu (where we'd never seen them before). So while we ate these lamb chops, he was scrolling catering menus on his iPhone, figuring out where we could score more lamb chops in time for Christmas.
By the time the cheesecake arrived for dessert, that reminded us of the grilled cheese sandwiches he'd made last week and how good they were, but what we really needed was a good homemade tomato soup to go with them. Bisque. We needed to make bisque. Barely pausing long enough for them to wrap up our doggie bags, we marched straight to the DiscoKroger for the celery and onions we'd need for the mire poix. Then we stood there a little stunned in the glare of the fluorescent lights realizing there were no cashiers, and they had abandoned us to the U-Scans. As far as I was concerned, at that point, we had two options. We could abandon this store in favor of one that was staffed, orrrrrrrrrr, one of us would just have to create a distraction while the other bolted out the door and ran for the getaway car. I was already busy creating just such a plan in my head when he mysteriously started punching buttons on The Machine. He eventually fed it some money; it burped up some change; and our incipient life of crime was momentarily delayed.
Within an hour, the soup was on, garlic was roasting in the oven, and we'd each staked out our respective positions in the cave, found a great movie (which neither of us remember), and were nodding off over our reading material (out of the 173 new releases on my bookshelf, he'd somehow unearthed my freshman year annotated copy of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness... I had the new Vanity Fair).
The night before, I'd fallen asleep in front of Restrepo, which I'd been looking forward to for months. It's an incredibly loud movie, and he made merciless fun of me for snoozing through it, while I insisted I was just resting my eyes (much like my grandmother and his Aunt Mae). Not surprisingly, I fight sleep violently, so he gets a big laugh watching the process. He says, "it's like Sunset. You know it comes every day, but you hardly ever catch it when it happens."
Last night, we fought the good fight til about 4. I heard him snoring and went over to tuck a blanket under his feet, at which point, he sat bolt upright and said, "Vigilance!"
Startled, I said, "What? Bilbo Baggins?"
"No. Vigilance," he said, and went right back to sleep.
Then I wandered upstairs to bed, and the only sounds heard around here the rest of the night was the occasional opening of the refrigerator door, followed by the unmistakable whisssssh of aerosol made by the spray-whipped-cream can from the Snooty Falooty Store. I don't even know if that was him or me.
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