I left the Beast alone in the city during the G20 weekend while I hitched a ride with my brother and sister-in-law to my mom’s place in London, Ontario. We had two days and nights of shopping, eating, air-conditioning and watching True Blood. By the time I got home Sunday afternoon, I felt a little funny. Mind you, I had eaten half of a bag of cheese Crunchits, a Coffee Crisp chocolate bar and had drunk a can of expired coconut water on the drive home. I felt remorse for this. And I felt remorse for the money I’d spent in London. Because I don’t have a car and I don’t live close to those suburban shopping meccas filled with box after box of stores like Walmart, HomeSense, The Shoe Company, and Winners, I tend to get carried away in their glorious and poorly-lit aisles. At home, as I started unpacking my purchases, it occurred to me that I didn’t need two new pairs of sandals, a fancy frying pan, two glass lunch containers (with pink accents), a salad spinner, a Victorian shawl with holes in it (it was only $12!), a thing to grill whole fish in, and, here’s the real winner, a fake leather, cropped biker jacket.
I don’t know what I was thinking, especially with the jacket: I’d like to blame my sister-in-law, who bought the same jacket. She, and my mom, encouraged me to try it on. I told them it would never zip up in the front because of my big-you-know-whats. But it did zip up. And I looked fucking fierce. It was only $49 and if I bought it, it meant that my sister-in-law and I each got to share a 25 per cent discount. So I did. And here it was staring me in the face.
The unusual combination of eating all that junk food, the shopping guilt, and the simple, old-fashioned missing-my-brother, who lives in Toronto but who I don’t see as much as I should, all contributed to my sour mood. Especially the brother part. I haven’t spent 48 hours with him for a long time and it was so lovely. It made me a little nostalgic for those summer days when all we did was play outside and build forts and spaceships until sun set when anxiety would wash over us as we waited for the voice of our mom or our dad calling us indoors.
I felt weak and terribly grumpy. But I still managed to pick up some Boston leaf lettuce, asparagus and pork chops for dinner. I got home and the Beast called me from work.
Beast: How was your time?
Beast: Did you miss me?
Beast: Do you want to know how my time alone was?
Foodie: Maybe later.
Beast: Okay. I think it’s going to storm tonight so we should have spaghetti with meat sauce.
Foodie: YEAH SURE! LIKE I HAVE SIX HOURS TO MAKE MEAT SAUCE. PLUS I ALREADY BOUGHT FUCKING PORK CHOPS!!!!
Beast: I love pork chops. May I ask you something?
Beast: Are you okay?
Foodie: Yes. I’m fine. I think I may need to have a nap before you come home.
Beast: I think you should too. Go lie down. I even made the bed. And I also photocopied you an archived article from the New Yorker: it’s a profile on Karl Lagerfeld from 2007. It’s on your night table.
So I went upstairs at 5:30pm, curled up on the bed, and read the article the Beast so kindly left for me. And then it started to rain and all was suddenly calmed in my little world. I fell asleep and awoke at 8:00pm with drool running down my left cheek. I had dreamt of the meatballs that I knew were in the freezer and how I would make spaghetti and meatballs for the Beast instead of pork chops because it wasn’t a good night to barbecue. I got out of bed and wiped the drool from my face. I was restored.
First, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry up some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it–you make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil and then you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs.
… And then a little bit of wine. And a little bit of sugar, and that’s my trick.
I didn’t really make it like that. That’s how Fat Clemenza makes his gravy in the Godfather. I didn’t add sausage or tomato paste but otherwise, I followed Clemenza’s instructions. I think I tried to make Godfather gravy because of the missing-my-brother thing. As siblings, we haven’t been the best of communicators. But movies have always been a common touchstone. We can converse for hours by just reciting lines from countless films. I bet it’s very annoying to be around us when we’re in the thick of it (think of Quint, Robert Shaw’s character in Jaws, talking to the dragon voiced by Sean Connery in DragonHeart who responds as Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans. Throw in a little Sonny Corleone from the Godfather, Gertie form E.T., Captain Blythe from the Bounty, and Arnold Schwarzenegger from Commando and you can imagine just how annoying we can be.) But it’s how we say, “I love you.”
While I let the sauce get all oozy and good, I grabbed the weekend papers, poured myself a little wine, and sat in the sun room while the rain beat down hard outside.
And I got to thinking about the part in the Lagerfeld profile where Cat Power (Mom, she’s a musician who is very hip) gets “discovered” in NYC by Karl himself. He found her smoking and sitting on her luggage outside a cool hotel and he liked the look of her and her attitude. Since then, she’s flown to all the Chanel shows and to all of Karl’s parties. This could be the answer: if Karl Lagerfeld could discover the Beast, neither of us would ever have to work again. I could clean him up–but not too much because I suspect Karl likes young men who look a little unkept–put him in a nice outfit, and set him on a street corner near Karl’s apartment in Paris with a flute or a trumpet or something that he could blow into. The Beast would just have to smoke some cigarettes, maybe do a pirouette or two, and wait for Karl. Just then, I heard the Beast come home.
Beast: It smells incredible in here! What’s that? That’s not meat sauce, is it?
Foodie: Almost. It’s spaghetti and meat balls.
Beast: You’re the best. Are you feeling any better?
Foodie: Yes, much better. And I would like to apologize for my poor behaviour earlier.
Beast: You don’t have to apologize.
Foodie: I’m also sorry that I abandoned you during the G20.
Beast: I was fine, just fine.
Foodie: What did you eat?
Beast: Well, the first night I made a frozen pizza and then the second night, I made a frozen pizza. I used the cutting board that I sliced the pizza on as my plate thereby saving a dish to wash. And did you notice that I did all the dishes?
Foodie: I will never abandon you like that again.
I poured the Beast a glass of red wine and we stood in the kitchen and had a good old chat. I told him about my reasonable plan to retire by 40 via him being discovered by Karl Lagerfeld and he told me all about going to see Herbie Hancock Saturday night at Nathan Phillips Square and how the riot police were very friendly to him when he asked their advice about the best walking route to take there. Once the spaghetti was ready, I fixed us up a couple plates of pasta which we quickly devoured while watching the G20 coverage on TV.
Beast: That was amazing, just amazing. Now, I would love nothing more than to lie in bed and finish the first volume of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I’m right at the part where the capital is moved from Rome to Contantinople. And did you know how amazing Diocletian was as an emperor?
Foodie: He was pretty amazing, wasn’t he. Remember how we went into that church in Rome that Michelangelo designed and how he designed it around the plan and the ruins of Diocletian’s baths?
Beast: I do remember that. Do you know anything about this tetrarchy?
Foodie: When there were two senior emperors and two junior emperors? A little bit. Wasn’t it Maximian, Constantius, Diocletian, and–
Beast: And Galerius. Wow. I can’t believe you. I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed with you than I am right now.
Foodie: Go on.
Beast: No, really. I’m blown away.
Foodie: Why are you being so nice to me?
Beast: What’s that?
Foodie: What’s what?
Foodie: Oh, that’s a fake leather jacket I bought. Do you want me to try it on?
Foodie: Well, what do you think?
Foodie: (Looking down at my pathetic self.) It’s so absurd I can’t believe it. I think I’m losing it. Do you think I’m having a mid-life crisis?
Beast: I don’t know what to say because I think I will get in trouble if I open my mouth.
Jessie: Karl would be disgusted with me right now.
Beast: (Nodding his head in agreement.)
We had a good laugh at least. And a good dinner. And I’m not returning the jacket.