August 12, 2015
The whole idea for writing this piece happens while standing in front of the open door of the fridge, here in an AirBNB in Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m barefoot and in panties and a big sweater, my hair piled up on my head in a banana clip. I’m pretty much alone, standing with my head inside the open lions mouth of the fridge. The kids are in bed, although probably not asleep, and playing Minecraft, thinking they are putting one over on me, but I don’t care. They are quiet and happy and it’s summer and we are in Europe, I won’t quibble the details. But I don’t feel like being in bed. I’m trolling now, looking for some action. I grab little fistfuls of spinach leaves from a half bag of loose spinach. Nice. I eye the spinach like its a pin up queen. In the voice of Elvis, my brain says, I want you, baby. God, in my head I’m such a cornball. I take some spinach in my fingers, this could look piggish, but I’m actually pretty graceful, I’m pushing these little bundles of leaves into a mug of blue cheese dressing I made on the fly for Edie, because the AirBNB people left the tiniest, most unsubstantial drop of ketchup in the bottle in the fridge, creating the illusion there was ketchup, when there really wasn’t, and this tail-spinned Edie into a place where she had to conjure up a world where small children are forced to eat their fish sticks without ketchup, which seems like some gray steam punk dystopian netherworld of doom. As a consolation, I mix some Roquefort with mayo, sour cream, lime and salt, and call it blue cheese, which it is, gave it to her with her fish. Cheese and fish, what the hell am I thinking? It’s the flavor pairing from hell. But she loved, like totally LOVED, it. But there is a whole mug of it left, and I keep looking at it. I can see the little bumps of cheese popping through the mayo, welling up in the cup, and it makes me think of David, who is out at his show here at the Fringe Festival, which is the whole purpose of us being in Scotland. The blue cheese reminds me of him because he loves this salad I make for him for lunch sometimes. It’s spinach and little chunks of hot bacon, smothered in home-made blue cheese. My face smiles inside the fridge because I think about how much he loves that salad, and also how he makes such a big production of everything I make, like he always shouts,” Wow! Look at this, girls!” as I put a plate down on the table, as if I had deboned a duck for dinner every night. I think about how I’ve come to expect that, and how I love that, and how I feel all warm and glowy because he likes this stupid salad and a lot of other stuff I do. Inexplicably. Despite me. This makes me start thinking about his chest hair, because I remember noticing his chest hair the first night we met, well not his chest hair exactly, but that little patch of skin that is visible just above where his shirt is unbuttoned and that also involves chest hair, and how that was enough to make me imagine us, and when I imagined us I couldn’t stop imagining us. I wish he was here right now, because his chest hair, and the rest of him, would be here too. But he’s not, and all I have is this mug of blue cheese and a half-eaten bag of wilty spinach, and a pound of uncooked bacon. English bacon, which is a little too much like Canadian bacon for my tastes. Not real bacon. Imposter bacon. More ham than bacon. So not what bacon is about. How do the British not understand this? Rashers. Embrace the rashers. Not that I’m going to cook it anyway. I’m feeling lazy. I don’t want to wash dishes, or make a big show of the food. I just want to eat. Also, the bowls are very far away, like I’d have to push my left arm up to the left, and slide two steps in that direction and stick my arm into the cupboard to get a bowl, maybe on tip toes, which seems exhausting, and just too much. I pick up another fistful of leaves and smash them into the mug of blue cheese, and again, with my fingers because fridge eating requires, even demands, no utensils, and this allows me to get just the right amount of blue cheese on the spinach, not so much that I’m eating only dressing, not so little that I’m eating only vegetable, its a delicate balance. I taste a mouthful of the salad and I wonder if I washed the spinach, I can’t remember, probably because I’m well into my second gin and tonic, so I think about salmonella, and puking in a Scottish emergency room, I wonder what Scottish emergency rooms are like, and I remember a mad cow outbreak happening in Italy, and what the symptoms are for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and how my hand gets super-tingly a lot, and how the kids would be crushed if I got mad cow disease, and why did we eat that fucking carpaccio in Naples? Then the cheese hits my tongue, and jolts me back to the present. I get that spark of blue cheese, some funk in my mouth, and then the creaminess, and its all cream and funk and cream and funk and my mouth is like the cast of Glee singing a mash-up of cream and funk, it’s good, so very fucking good, and I realize it wouldn’t have tasted this good had I put it in a bowl or eaten it with a fork or waited for the imposter bacon to cook up into something. And eating it at a table with a napkin in my lap would have killed the whole point, the urgency of it, the improvisation, the sneakiness, the things we do alone, and things we do hoping to get caught, not get caught, the shame of being found with blue cheese smeared across our lips, and a mouthful of leaves, all that slow chewing while trying to explain yourself with blue cheese fingers, the sheer thrill of having this one minute alone with food, and to make all the decisions about food, and be completely indelicate and irreverent with food, how wicked and thrilling that is. I close the door, the kitchen is super-dark. I am a thief. I come in the night. My secret life. I hear my feet on the floor. I’m taking the rest of my gin and tonic to bed. I consider going back to the fridge, there’s a bit more blue cheese in the bottom of the mug, but I don’t. It was enough of a good thing. Anyway, it will be right there waiting for me at breakfast.
PS: And it was there waiting for me at breakfast! Or really lunch. We got up at 10, ate at noon, and I made David this salad with blue cheese (I added more to the meager smudge I had left behind), properly fried bacon (not nearly as good as rashers), and arugula, (a sorry excuse for the spinach I finished the night before). I even let him use a bowl and fork.