The Victorians, Miles Davis and burgers

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I had been waiting for the Beast to finish reading Pride and Prejudice so we could start watching the BBC mini-series starring Colin Firth.

Recently I received a text from him signalling that a) he was finished reading the book and b) he was disappointed by the lack of explicit sex scenes between Darcy and Lizzy and c) that we could begin watching the show, which we did.

On Saturday morning as we ate omelettes on the deck I asked the Beast if he wanted to watch the end of Pride and Prejudice later that night.

Beast: I’m more into the Victorian era now. How about The Age of Innocence?

Foodie: What? How are you “more into the Victorian era” now?

Beast: Well, I watched a documentary about Ludwig II, the mad king of Bavaria, who loved the highly romantic, insane architecture of the Victorian era  where you just grabbed from any historical style and mashed it together. Then I started reading a book about the Astors and great hotels in the U.S., which was also in the Victorian era and had a very similar grab bag-style of free associating historical references. Then I watched Topsy Turvy, which is basically a study of Victorian era pop culture. Then I started reading Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, which is about the extermination of Amercan Indians in the Victorian era: racism, curiosity, ethnography, slaughter and that highly American form of colonial superiority: manifest destiny. Certain romantic ideals about savagery are all highly Victorian conceits, you know. Anyway, what an interesting time! Also, the morals and the manners of that age: Don’t forget that Deadwood was a Victorian era show – that combo of ruthlessness and propriety: the men wearing gloves and women corsets on those streets of mud! It’s just crazy!

Foodie: How is it even possible that you can be reading and watching all of this stuff and I don’t even notice?

Beast: Because you don’t pay enough attention to me!!!!

Foodie: I’m meeting Stephen now for coffee. I have dinner all figured out: burgers, plus fancy tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole.

Beast: Oh, before you go, would you mind doing me a really big favour? There’s a Miles Davis book that I saw four months ago in a shop on Queen St. and maybe you could see if it’s still there. It’s filled with lots of beautiful photos of him.

Foodie: Do you really need a picture book on Miles Davis? All the photos you could possibly desire are already on the Internet and you’re ALWAYS looking at them.

Beast: That’s true, but I also really want to read the semi-scholarly essays in the book.

Foodie: You are nuts.

Beast: Maybe. Well, have fun spending your Saturday with ANOTHER man. I’ll just be here at home ALONE.

After our coffee, Stephen was heading off to see the film Pacific Rim, a movie that I was excited to see–a movie that the Beast would never go to. So I called him at home to see if he’d mind me coming home a little later so that I could see the matinee. He was just putting on suntan lotion and reading on the deck and encouraged me to go. A few minutes later I got a text from the Beast of an audio clip with Miles Davis’ raspy voice describing Charlie Parker’s playing like being put “in a box full of a whole bunch of firm titties.”

It was going to be a long afternoon.

I passed the book shop on my bike ride home and, feeling a little guilty for leaving the Beast for so long on the only day of the week that we ever both have off from work, I felt I could not go home empty-handed.

Not surprisingly, the Miles Davis book was still in the store. And the Beast was so inspired by the picture in the front of the book that he went straight to the  piano and improvised on the song Human Nature (Miles did a version in the ’80s) while I prepped our dinner.

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When we were ready to grill the Beast made us cocktails of tequila with basil, lime, agave nectar and a splash of soda poured over these enormous ice cubes from our new novelty ice cube trays.

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The evening was so nice that we decided to eat outside, and not in front of the TV.

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Without Colin Firth to distract is we were actually able to have a nice conversation. The Beast, by nature, is a contrarian, but lately, inspired by the Victorian era perhaps, here he was enthusiastically talking about Native American fashion and how the American West might actually be the most emblematic Victorian society, while I tried to explain to him just how contrary I had become. I’ve been arguing with people–and with myself–over everything from health studies and vitamins to the artist Marina Abramovic to horoscopes and homeopathy. It was a great talk and a testament to the power of not eating in front of a television.

During a pause in our conversation, before the Beast reluctantly agreed to give the Georgian era another go and finish Pride and Prejudice, he said:

Beast: I have to ask you a serious question.

Foodie: Um, okay.

I was nervous, because we had been talking more and more seriously as the evening light faded.

Beast: Do you love Miles as much as I do?

In order to be more conciliatory and less of a contrarian, I agreed.

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