I lost my marbles the other night. It was the eve before our company (from Italy!) came to stay with us. I don’t know what happened. One minute I was downstairs getting ready for bed and being pretty cheerful and the next minute, nearly as soon as I crawled into bed with an unsuspecting Beast, I just lost it.
Foodie: That’s nice music playing. What is it?
Beast: John Williams; an Australian guitarist.
Foodie: It’s so pretty! Perfect sleep-time music. (Pause) Not like the crazy music you normally play. That music is stu-pid. I hate it. I hate all your stuff. Look at this room. There are CDs, LPs and books EVERYWHERE! It’s absurd! YOU’RE F–KING CRAZY. I can’t believe you have all this shit. You’re a maniac. Why do you have some much stuff? You can’t listen to it all or read it all, you know. And you spend all your money on this bullshit. YOU-ARE-NUTS. YOU’RE NUTS!!!!
Beast (getting out of bed and motioning towards his CDs): You know what? I guess you’re right. I guess it must be really hard for you to be surrounded by operas, symphonies and string quartets. It must just be terrible!!! And yes, my bedside table has gotten out of control.
Beast: It must be just awful for you to be in a relationship with somebody who…well let’s just see what we have here (picking up each book): an anthology of poetry selected by the late Ted Hughes and Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney; a book on experimental music; a complete rhyming dictionary for when I write poems or lyrics; a history of warfare by John Keegan and his monograph of World War II; a history of American Musicians; a book on Inuit art–Oh, I forgot how much you hate art and how you hate Inuits. What else…a translation of The Aeneid–maybe you’ve heard of it; a history of Disco; a book about Shackleton; poems by Buckminster Fuller…
Foodie: He wrote poetry?
Beast:…The Great Gatsby; an Artie Shaw memoir; a classic journalistic account of the boxing world in the 1950s as told by A.J. Liebling.
Foodie (laughing uncontrollably): OKAY, OKAY! I’m sorry. I don’t know why I turned so mean. What happened to me? I hated you just there. I mean, you read about this sort of shit happening but–
Beast: I know why: because you’re a mean person!
Foodie: I think I’m just mad because remember when we had company last week? And I asked you to do a couple of things before they came, like taking your instruments upstairs and cleaning the washroom? Well, you didn’t do any of it. Right before they arrived, you were on the phone for like 30 minutes with your brother talking about your next rehearsal and then the doorbell rang and there I was in the f–king washroom wiping down the sink while you sat around TALKING ON THE PHONE LIKE AN OLD LADY. I think I’m just lashing out over the same stuff. (Pause) I’m just so tired of feeling self-righteous about doing everything around here. I’m so tired of complaining to you all the time about the same things–about laundry, about buying groceries, about turning those groceries into dinners, about doing dishes, about instruments everywhere, about mess. I just need more help from you.
Beast: I’M SORRY I DIDN’T DO THE DISHES TONIGHT BUT I’M DYING!
Foodie: What do you mean, dying?
Beast: I have a cavity and I think I have an ear infection. I’m in pain!
Foodie: I’m not mad that you didn’t do the dishes tonight–I know you’re not feeling well.
Beast: We’re breaking up, aren’t we. You deserve better.
Foodie: No, I just want help. You know all this stuff–all your books and stuff–well, they’re part of the reason why I fell in love with you. I loved that you were interested in so many things. But that was in my 20s. I’m almost 40 now.
Beast: Pretending to throw up.
Foodie: And I think when women get into their 40s, that stuff–like you knowing when the Etruscans flourished as a civilization, or being able to spot a Sidney Bechet song in under three notes–is, well, less important. (Pause) What are you doing?
Beast: I’m making a list of things to do this weekend.
Foodie: What does it say.
Beast: SEE FOR YOURSELF!
Foodie: Wow. This is like poetry. A lite dinner on Sunday?
Foodie: I’m sorry I turned crazy tonight.
Beast: I’m sorry that I’m interested in so many things and don’t want to just watch TV and blockbuster movies all the time.
Foodie: I see your point.
By morning, the Beast was still a little sore with me but he did help me prepare dinner for my good friend Michelle, her husband and their beautiful baby boy.
Because I had to work during the day, I decided on a meal that I knew the Beast and I could throw together with little stress: crostini with assorted toppings–like bruschetta-style tomatoes and assorted cheeses–to start, followed by grilled vegetables and sausages. I do all the chopping and mixing and he does the grilling. I even had a rhubarb crisp, that I’d made in May and froze, for dessert.
It was a gorgeous summer night so once our guests arrived we quickly settled ourselves on the deck with cocktails and snacks in hand. In an attempt to bond with one of my best friend’s baby, I held him in my arms and let him touch the terracotta sculptures that look like faces and line the deck’s wooden wall. He settled on one and squealed with delight. And then he flipped it off the nail with his little baby hand. Do you know what happened then? The stuff of nightmares happened: there was a wasp’s nest, unbeknownst to us, under the terracotta sculpture and they swarmed the baby, stinging him twice in the face.
Fearing an allergic reaction, we spent the next few hours in the emergency room.
The baby was just fine. I, on the other hand, was devastated. I had failed to protect an innocent child. Had I scarred him for life? Will he hate me? Time will tell. I do know that when Michelle, her husband, the baby and I returned–all of us exhausted and hungry–the Beast had cooked dinner, set the dining room table and poured us all drinks. I don’t have photo documentation of the delightful meal that followed, or the dessert that Michelle, the Beast and I ate in the sun room (after the Italian boys went to bed), while chatting and drinking until nearly 2 in the morning.
But it took real teamwork to make it happen. And it was lovely.