Around the world, turning 40

The Beast and I were reunited late Friday night after being apart for two weeks. (I was half way around the world on a work assignment.)  As I walked up our stairs, he grabbed my bottom, as couples are wont to do after being separated  for so long, and felt something unusual.

Beast: What the hell is that?

Foodie: It’s a maxi pad.

Beast: [Silence]

Foodie: Can you believe that I got my period right before having to take three flights and crossing the International Date Line to come home?

Beast: Why didn’t you buy tampons?

Foodie: I could only find the kind without an applicator and I don’t know how to use them.

Beast: [feeling again] Are you sure this isn’t one of those dribble pads for people with weak bladders?

Foodie: I know, right? But believe me, maxi pad technology has infinitely improved since I last used them, which was about 25 years ago. They’re not so bad, actually.

Beast: Wow, you really came back as a 40 year old, didn’t you.

It’s true: I did turn 40 while I was away. I may have even turned 40 twice, on account of that International Date Line.

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It was lovely to be in such a beautiful place for my birthday surrounded by new friends. (I’ll tell you more about the trip soon, but the Big Reveal should really be on The Social the week of December 9. For now, suffice it to say–if you haven’t already guessed–that I was in a country, whose accent I managed to master before I left, in the southern hemisphere.)

But it also made me a bit melancholy to be away from old friends and my family. Maybe those blues were also on account of the number, too. I mean, 40. That’s half way, if I’m lucky. This little life right here is half over before it’s really over–before The Big Sleep. Besides that dark and fairly average revelation, 40 feels the same as 39.

Especially because we settled into familiar routines the next night: We ate a party-size Vesuvio pizza with a bottle of pinot noir I brought home and watched Flight Club, continuing our informal David Fincher film festival.

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Beast: I really like Brad Pitt.

Foodie: So do I.

Beast: What do you call those lines that he has above the waist?

Foodie: I forget, but they’re glorious.

Beast: They should put them in the Smithsonian.

Foodie: Yeah, right. The Smithsonian. God I’d love to see him and Angelina make love.

Beast: Me too. I like Brad Pitt, man. Everything about him. Even the architecture BS.

Before bed, I gave the Beast a present I picked up for him at the airport. It was a sweater native to the country I visited that he’d requested before I left. It’s called a Coogi sweater. The tourism people with whom I travelled had previously talked me out of buying him one. They told me only tourists buy them. But at the airport, I couldn’t resist, even though they are the most fucking ugly sweaters I’ve ever seen.


Foodie: Well, that makes me happy. I almost didn’t get you one because everyone kept telling me how touristy and tacky they are.

Beast: Uh, would you call rap and hip hop tacky?

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Foodie: No, I guess not.

Beast: I don’t give a fuck what they think there!  All I care about is C-O-M-P-T-O-N! And H-A-R-L-E-M! And B-R-O-O-K-L-Y-N!

I slept great the night before. But last night I bolted awake at 3:00 a.m. I read the latest New Yorker in bed until 4:30 a.m. Then I went downstairs, got the three pieces of leftover pizza from the fridge, poured myself a glass of wine and watched Pride and Prejudice on the couch. I woke up at 9:30 a.m. to find the Beast, in his new sweater, smiling down at me.

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He looked beautiful in the sweater.  He encouraged me to get up so that I might sleep well tonight. Then, after gently removing pizza sauce from my brow and the corner of my mouth, he kissed me good-bye.


Strada and steaks: the cottage edition

On a recent Saturday afternoon during an autumnal walk at the cottage:

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Beast: Let’s talk about your birthday.

Foodie: Uh, okay. But it’s still a bit away.

Beast: I’ve already got you your present.

Foodie: This was my present! All I wanted to do was visit the cottage before it was closed for the winter.

Beast: Well, I got you something else. [Pause] It’s a House of Cards-endorsed rowing machine.

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Cheap eats: chicken fingers and poutine (on sale)

I took my mom to Costco in London, Ont. on Saturday. As we walked the aisles I saw her smiling at everyone she passed. This is typical behaviour. She’s a very amiable woman. But this time, something was different. It was as though she was attempting to will people to acknowledge her intense gaze, not so that she could share her enthusiasm over the contents of her shopping cart–“the shepherd’s pie is to die for!“–but so she could say, “Yes, yes this is Jess from The Social. And she is my daughter.”

Someone finally bought into it, and my mom couldn’t have been more thrilled. “I saw you looking at her,” she whispered to a  lovely young woman who was  picking up Thanksgiving provisions along with the rest of the city, “and I wanted to tell you it really is her. She’s my daughter, you know.”  The woman smiled, told us about the Brie on sale in the next aisle, and was on her way.

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A dispatch from Italy in 1,200 words and 28 photos

Nobody likes hearing too much about somebody else’s vacation, so let me tell you about mine.

I checked into my Roman hotel, a converted convent, and napped for two hours because it was raining. By the time I woke up, the sun was out. I stopped for some pizza al taglio in Trastevere. The zucchini flower, fior di latte and anchovy slice was a hit.


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The trips to Italy and lemon pasta

I leave for Italy in 10 days. I will be away for just over two weeks. It will be, by far, the longest the Beast and I have ever been apart. He keeps joking that he’s going to move back in with Marg and Dave, his parents, to get him through the separation, so he won’t starve.

This will be my sixth trip to Italy. The first time was a 1992 high school trip with Becky, Julie and my mom, who came as a chaperon. It was one of those whirlwind rides through Venice, Florence, Siena, Assisi, Rome and Pompeii. I remember listening to Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints over and over again on my walkman on that tour bus.

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Project home decor, plus pork chops

There has been a lot of home decor improvements going on in this house. Or, as we’ve been calling it,  project #homedecor.

We cleaned out the sunroom and moved in two new reading chairs that the Beast brought home from work.

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Edulis and one salty dog

A few days before the Beast’s May 12 birthday, I tried to make a reservation at Edulis for a special dinner. I’ve had two memorable meals there and wanted him to experience it. But the restaurant, which routinely receives near-perfect reviews and comes out on top of Canada’s “best restaurant” lists, was booked well into June. Eventually, I secured a dinner on a recent Wednesday evening. What should have been a beautiful dinner out, however, descended into disorder on account of poor behaviour on my part.

It started out wonderfully, despite the early dinner hour. We used to eat pretty late at night but these days it’s not uncommon that we’ve finished dinner by 6:30 or 7:00 p.m, which is why, I suppose, I made the reservation for 6:00 p.m.

We were the first to arrive. The doors were still locked at 6:03 p.m. But there were some lovely patio tables to sit around. The Beast looked so handsome in the evening light that I had to take his photo.


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