This morning my mother-in-law expressed concern that I would go hungry if I did not accompany the family to the Amish restaurant for lunch, but I assured her I would find food if I grew faint while spending the day writing in the Wooster Public Library. My mother-in-law gets anxious if she thinks someone isn’t being well-fed, and we are all the happier (if a bit plumper) for her exquisitely successful means of coping with her anxiety. Today she put her anxiety to rest by directing me to an American-style diner and a Greek pizza place, both directly across the street from the library.
I have just returned from the American-style diner, where I had two eggs over easy, hash browns, bacon, wheat toast and coffee at two o’clock in the afternoon, for five dollars ($7.50, including the fifty percent tip I left for the very lovely waitress who brought my food before I’d even stirred the cream and sugar into my coffee). While I ate, I read Julie and Julia, which I can’t decide if I like, but I most definitely love in that I’m-on-vacation-and-I-just-dripped-egg-yolks-on-my-book-because-I-don’t-want-to-put-it-down-even-for-food sort of way. (Book review to follow shortly, in which I promise to offer a more nuanced opinion.)
And now I’m back at my spot by the sky-filled cathedral windows in the library. In addition to lunch, I have taken a few breaks from writing the latest installment in my Welfare of the City series, in order to flirt on-line with a couple of men I’m particularly fond of (both pastors no less! One gay, one happily married – “non starters” as Julie likes to say about the hopeless innocence of my flirting). And here is my geeky confession: Is it possible that a day could be any better than this? With only the very fewest of exceptions, I’m pretty sure the answer is “No.” Shameless geek, that’s me.
But I do want to leave you with a passage from Julie and Julia just to spice things up a little. If you are a regular reader of mine, you may recall that to my mind, food and sex are really just two sides of the same coin. If you are a regular reader of mine, you may also recall that I love to write about sex, but in the interests of my very private wife, not to mention her father-who-reads-my-blog, I will only ever write about sex in mostly abstract ways which offer very, very little in the way of detail about my own actual sex life. Here I offer just the tiniest deviation from that rule, in an effort to allay any concerns the following excerpt might create; that deviation being an assurance that I am not, in fact, a practitioner of polyamory (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), but, in point of fact, I am quite the boring, geeky, middle-aged, blissfully married lady. Such assurances, however, are prelude to a further confession, which is that blissful monogamy notwithstanding, I find erotic energy in all sorts of experiences and relationships. My friend Gordon, founder of my book review group, recently reviewed a book by George Steiner called The Lessons of the Masters. In his review Gordon wrote, “The essence of the master-disciple relationship, according to GS, is loving trust, in which the entire soul of the student is opened to new knowledge. The mode of exchange is always speech (never writing), and it is somewhat erotic, though usually not actively so.” I replied to Gordon’s review with such enthusiastic virtual head-nodding that it occurred to me after impulsively hitting “send” that perhaps I had not been entirely demure and lady-like, as befits a middle-aged married lady such as myself. So be it. This middle-aged married lady loves her teachers, and totally gets what George Steiner was talking about. This middle-aged married lady also loves to feed people, and totally gets what Julie Powell is talking about in this passage from Julie and Julia (pp. 216-17 in the hardcover edition):
"Somewhere along the way, I discovered that in the physical act of cooking, especially something complex or plain old hard to handle, dwelled unsuspected reservoirs of arousal both gastronomic and sexual. If you are not one of us, the culinarily depraved, there is no way to explain what’s so darkly enticing about eviscerating beef marrowbones, chopping up lobster, baking a three-layer pecan cake, and doing it for someone else, offering someone hard-won gustatory delights in order to win pleasures of anther sort. Everyone knows there are foods that are sexy to eat. What they don’t talk about so much is foods that are sexy to make. But I’ll take a wrestling bout with recalcitrant brioche dough over being fed a perfect strawberry any day, foreplay-wise."