At Home

The Sting (plus birthday parties, protein powder, and The Chase)

On Friday morning I was stung by a wasp and basically now I know the pain of childbirth.

I was home sick on account of a cold. The Beast was out on a bike ride. I went up to the deck to read. I put up the umbrella, and placed my hand directly on top of the fucker, and its stinger pierced that fleshy part of my palm, right between my thumb and index finger.

I ran inside, thinking this was it. As I let cool water run over the wound I thought about the letter I better start writing to the Beast. “We had a good run,” it would say, “and you will never meet anyone like me again and I hope you never forget that you weren’t home when I left this world.”

I was sitting in the sun room with an ice cube wrapped in a (linen) tea towel placed overtop the sting when he finally got back and I told him what had happened.

Foodie: I know you will not respect this pain but it is real.

Beast: I do respect it. Do you want to go to the hospital?

Foodie: I Googled “wasp stings” and their stingers don’t fall out like bees and I can breathe fine. But I’m very nauseous. And if I take the ice off, it feels like there is literally a knife in my hand.

Ten ice cubes later, the pain not subsiding, we continued with the day.

It was fascinating being at home, observing the Beast in his natural habitat when he’s usually alone. After waking up, he drinks coffee, reads the paper, and then writes. Then he goes for a bike ride to the lake where there is some equipment that he does pull ups on. He gets home, very sweaty, and flexes. Then he goes upstairs and lifts weights, comes downstairs and–this part is new to his routine–prepares a protein shake.

He picked up the unflavoured protein powder earlier in the week when he rode his bike to a GNC store. Imagining the conversation he had with the employees there makes me want to cry. I met him that day and we rode our bikes home along the waterfront bike path. I let him lead because a) he is much slower so its best if he sets the pace and b) the sight of him in front of me, his little legs fiercely pedalling, and his back burdened by an absurd knapsack–filled, on this occasion, with a giant jug of protein powder, a water bottle, and a copy of Euripedes’ play Medea –filled me with great joy.

After this, he reads some more, does household chores, including vacuuming and the laundry, and then starts planning dinner.

Tonight, it would be pork chops, steamed broccoli, and panzanella salad. We’d recently had some superb panzanella, along with perfect pizzas, at Mattachioni where we had dinner with the Beast’s parents. They bought a loaf of owner Dave Mattachioni’s famous sour dough bread and gave us half.

The Beast toasted it in the oven and then left the bread on the counter to cool before preparing the panzanella. I finished my book, a travel guide on Crete, still writhing in pain.

Beast: What’s in your mouth?

Foodie: [Silence]

Beast: It’s a piece of bread, isn’t it. Do you know if I did that you would be so mad at me!

Foodie: I only had one piece!

Beast: My kitchen, my rules!

Foodie: Did you read that profile of Robert Redford in the issue of Esquire you bought?

Beast: First of all, it’s an interview, not a profile. And second of all, I don’t have time to read magazines! This is my life now, chopping, chopping, chopping, cooking, chopping, cleaning!

Foodie: It’s been nice being home with you today. I am so grateful for how much you do.

Beast: I’ve been meaning to tell you, when we get back from Greece, I am going to look for a part-time job.

Foodie: You know you don’t have to, right? I love supporting our family.

Beast: I know, and I love you for that. But I think it will be good for me. Just two or three days a week. I need to get out of my head.

Foodie: What about at a book store?

Beast: I was thinking more like a parking lot attendant. Think of the outer wear: reflective vests, and such, that I’d have to buy.

Foodie: [Silence]

After reading that interview with Robert Redford, I suggested we watch a new film, Our Souls At Night that reunites him with Jane Fonda, on Netflix. Only it doesn’t come out until the end of September. But Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Barefoot in the Park, The Electric Horseman, and The Chase were all ready for viewing.

We settled on The Chase, mostly because Marlon Brando is also in it.

Beast: You know who should remake this movie?

Foodie: Who?

Beast: The Coen Brothers.

Foodie: OMG totally, and I think it would be a better film for it.

Beast: What’s weird is that Bonnie and Clyde feels totally modern compared to this one, which came out just a year before I think. The Chase feels like two movies mashed together: like it has its feet in two different eras of moviemaking, one modern and one old Hollywood.

Foodie: Bonnie and Clyde isn’t totally modern. What about the scene on the bicycle in the meadow? That shit cray.

Beast: You are astoundingly ignorant.

Foodie: What did you say?

Beast: I said you are astoundingly ignorant. I can say it again and it won’t make it any less true.

Foodie: Oh yeah, that’s in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Beast: [Silence]

Maybe it was the venom coursing through my veins. I also blame the cursed poison for me Googling properties this morning on the Greek islands of Naxos, Hydra, and Crete. You can buy a traditional stone villa that’s essentially a pile of rubble for like 40 grand.

I’m still feeling flush from last night, when we attended two birthday parties for two wonderful friends. The first reunited us with old friends, whose kids ran between our legs while we caught up in the kitchen.

As we drove to the second party, the Beast reminded me how lucky I am to have these women and their families in our life. And while I knew this to be true, it stung when I thought about how little I do to meaningfully maintain these friendships, not to mention getting to know their kids. I mean, the Greek villa is not going to build itself. I’m counting on this next generation.

At Genghis Khan Mongolia Grill on Don Mills Rd., we celebrated a birthday with new friends. We ate until we hurt.

I had a stomach ache on top of the sting in my hand.

Even though I was bloated and sweaty, I made one final trip to the chocolate fountain, which inspired in me the classic “put chocolate on your tooth so it looks like its missing” party trick. When I caught my reflection in the mirror, I laughed so loud that my fellow revellers were concerned. I can’t remember if this was before or after the concerned staff cut off our group from ordering more beers–at 9:00 p.m. on a Saturday night!

I’m not proud of my behaviour. I can do better. And I will.


5 replies »

  1. I was stung by TWO bees this summer and I cried hard tears. The pain is real (and so is the lingering, maddening itching). I feel you, and I love your writing

  2. I learn something from you on every post. I’m now anxious to attend the next party I’m invited to…let there be a chocolate fountain.

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