The Beast and I got home at exactly the same time on Friday after work. He was carrying an LCBO bag filled with cocktail necessities and was eager to get down to business. I was eager to get into my caftan and drink whatever he was about to create.
Although there have been sunny days in 2015, something about Friday felt like it was the first of the season. We didn’t want to miss a moment of it. By 5:30 p.m., we were sitting on the deck with reading materials and drinks. The Beast was reading a 650-page biography about Saul Bellow for an upcoming book review he’s writing. I was reading Twitter.
He was also smoking a cigar he brought home from Cuba–the same brand, he told me, that JFK had purchased by the case right before he banned trade with the Cubans.
Beast: Can we order Vesuvio’s pizza tonight?
Foodie: No way. The celebratory dinner with Elaine is May 1. I can’t have Vesuvio’s pizza before then. We’re having homemade pizzas tonight, remember?
(The celebratory dinner with Elaine is to celebrate our co-dieting project that we launched in January. When I get to my goal weight, which is supposed to be on May 1, we are having an epic feast at my place.)
Beast: I’m sick of our bullshit homemade pizzas. And you said we had all the ingredients for them earlier in the day and then you said I had to pick up basil and salami! You lied to me.
Foodie: Well, fuck you. And I’m sorry you don’t like homemade pizza party nights. But you know it’s a diet dinner for me.
Beast: How in the hell is you eating a whole pizza part of your diet?
Foodie: Uh because we found an entire pizza crust that is only 600 calories. The toppings I put on [red pepper, red onion, olives, basil and a whisper, truly a whisper, of grated mozzarella] might as well be calorie-free, or like 100 calories. I can eat a whole pizza because I didn’t have lunch. That’s how you make a diet pizza.
Beast: Everything is almost perfect right now.
Foodie: Why almost?
Beast: Well, it’s beautiful out, I made excellent cocktails, I’m smoking a cigar, you’re here–but it’s my watch. I should have a spring or summer watch on right now. But I don’t own one, do I.
Foodie: I’m sorry.
Beast: I’ve only got a Timex on.
After cocktail hour, we headed to the kitchen to prepare our pizzas. While I prepped, the Beast deejayed.
Foodie [Looking in the fridge]: Oh, no. I can’t find any olives. How do we have so many jars of jam? We don’t even eat toast. Are these olives? Fuck–that’s plum sauce.
Beast: Heaven forbid you have to actually taste anything on your pizza besides olives.
Foodie: What’s that supposed to mean?
Beast: You put so many olives on your pizza that they overwhelm everything else. It’s crass.
Foodie: What music is this?
Beast: The Kinks.
Foodie: Wait. When did you change your shirt? And what the hell kind of shirt is that?
Beast: Remember I bought it the other night from Value Village and you laughed at me and said it was too big? Well, who’s laughing now?
After the diet pizza party, we each grabbed an Alphonso mango. These beauties arrive from India every spring. Blink, and they’re gone. Luckily, the Beast and I secured a case earlier in the week. They’re impossible to eat without their sweet, perfumed juices running down your face and your arms. It’s also impossible not to audibly swoon after every buttery bite.
Saturday was gloriously lazy. We finally left the house at about 2:00 p.m. and made our way up and down Roncesvalles shopping for dinner. We ran into old friends–little meetings that the Beast declared were “roncenings”.
As we returned home, warmed by the sun sparkle, I said :”I’m in heaven right now.”
“No,” replied the Beast, “you’re on the Ronce.” We were so pleased with the exchange, which sounded like a public service announcement, that we repeated it all day.
We’d picked up our new favourite sausages–Tamwork pork with thyme and white wine–from Custodio’s, and a ball of burrata cheese for some crostini. At home, I made a pea purée after sautéing peas, onion and garlic and blitzing that with olive oil, lemon zest, parmigiano and mint.
While I prepped some green onions, the sausages and slices of baguette for the barbecue, the Beast tried on a new belt.
Beast: I told you wasn’t too big.
Foodie: You’re kidding, right? That’s the biggest belt I’ve ever seen. It looks like a novelty joke belt.
Foodie: Listen, I’m sorry for calling you a joke. I love you and support your fashion choices. But first it’s a billowy blouse and now this? A hippy belt? What am I supposed to think?
Beast: That I’m fabulous.
Then my phone went off. It was a text from Erinn, who has been globe-trotting for months now, only recently settling in Italy for a spell. “Gilbert died!” It said. I immediately pulled up Twitter to confirm the sad news. Actor Jonathan Crombie, who’s is best known for playing Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables TV movie, had suddenly died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 48.
I was in Grade 5 when the first part of the CBC two-part movie aired. I had a bad VHS copy of it that I’d watch every Saturday. I also faked sick quite frequently, and would watch it then, too. Recently, my mom bought me the DVD box set of the series from Costco. I watched it before bed every night while I was in Italy last year.
At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, the movie meant a great deal to me–perhaps no more so than the time the Beast watched it with me after I had my wisdom teeth taken out. It must have been about 10 years ago. My childhood dentist in St. Thomas performed the procedure because at the time, I was in between adolescence and adulthood and hadn’t done grown-up things yet, like securing a dentist and a GP in Toronto.
The procedure went well and the Beast drove me to my dad’s place in Port Stanley to convalesce. To be honest, I wasn’t in a great deal of discomfort, but like I did in grade school, I fudged it a bit so that the Beast couldn’t say no to my movie choice.
I fell in and out of sleep but popped awake for the moments that’ve always stood out the most: when Anne gets her puffed sleeves; when she lets a mouse drown in the plum sauce; when she saves Diana Barry’s kid sister from the croup; when she holds Matthew as he lay dying in the field; when she gets mad at Gilbert when he encourages her to stop writing her highfalutin love stories and to concentrate instead on writing what she knows; and when she meets Gilbert, at the end of the sequel, and they walk across the pond–the site of so many of their childhood mishaps and adventures, on an afternoon at the end of summer.
He’s just recovered from an illness that almost left him dead. She’s just published her book. And Gilbert was right. She wrote about the things closest to her heart.
“It’ll be three years before I finish medical school,” Gilbert tells her. “Even then there won’t be any diamond sunbursts or marble halls.”
“I don’t want diamond sunbursts, or marble halls,” she says. “I just want you.”