The first Monday morning of the Beast’s early retirement, he said, still in bed, “I think I’ll make a frittata for dinner tonight.”
I rubbed my eyes, wondering if it was all a dream. Normally I am the one waking up with thoughts of the meal that is still 10 hours away on the the brain. What would all this potential freed-up head space mean? What would I fill it with?
I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, or frighten the Beast with too much enthusiasm, or jinx it, so I simply nodded and said: “That sounds nice.”
Two weeks later, it appears that making a warm meal is part of the Beast’s daily routine. He writes until noon, does his exercising, which is adorable.
I asked him where he found the recipe for the latter. “I Googled ‘shrimp pasta,'” he said. “this one was the first hit. The site is said it was ‘damn delicious.'”
And it was. Everything he’s made has been delicious. It never ceases to amaze me how much better things taste–even a can of soup–when someone else makes it for you.
But the meal-making isn’t what I’m most appreciative of. It’s been the organizing of our apartment in preparation for “Project Home Decor 2016,” or PHD16 for short. We are painting the living room, dining room, which doubles as the library and my office, and the long hallway that connects the two, and we are trying to get rid of a lot of stuff–and there is so much stuff–so the place doesn’t feel so disorganized.
We started in the bedroom. The Beast downsized his closet by eight full garbage bags then asked if I could take him, as a reward, to the new Uniqlo. “What do you possibly need?” I asked.
“Some oversized long-sleeved shirts,” he said.
I immediately shut down the conversation. But when it comes to decor of PHD16, I listen to the Beast. Not only is he doing all the organizing of the books, the prepping of the rooms for painting, and the curation of objects, but his vision for the project is also far more clear and concise than mine.
While examining the piles of things that he’s decided we are getting rid of, for example, I questioned his decision to toss an Art Deco-style book case. “We’ve out grown Art Deco,” he said. “Art Deco is for fucking kids. I want our place to be like the home of a Colonial administrator who returns to a much-changed Edwardian England, bringing back with him fabulous textiles and all that horrible colonial baggage that can only express itself in the excessive consumption of gin and tonics. Is that that complicated?”
Apparently, however, we need this gold mask.
The other night, I actually had a craving to cook. I had to text the Beast in the afternoon and ask permission to make dinner. He agreed. I’d come across a recipe for Swiss chard gratin in a new French cookbook, which I planned on serving with some grilled sausages.
“Oh damn,” I said in the kitchen. “the recipe calls for a white onion but we only have red. Ah, it won’t matter.”
“Are you kidding me?” the Beast said. “That might be fine for your standards, but not mine. Go back to fucking Italy, you monster!”
“Thanks for letting me make dinner tonight. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to successfully see a roux come together. I feel like I’m at my most powerful when it happens,” I said. “And thank you for taking such good care of our family these last few weeks. You’ve been incredible.”
“Hey, you put the bread on the table,” he said, “and I cook it.”
“Why did you send that photo of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson to me this morning?”
“Because it’s a fucking awesome photo.”
“Does it remind you of us, and our relationship?”
“I’m Matthew and you’re Woody.”
“Are you saying that because Woody has less hair?”
“Oh god no!” I said, not entirely sure if that wasn’t the case. “Besides, they both have fabulous hair.”