Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Neither Master nor Blaster

I went to lunch today with two of my former students. Both are bright, funny, witty, self-possessed, well-read, pleasant, and responsible. These gorgeous creatures are making their way through the world, not sure what their mark will be but bright eyed and energetic and epic enough for possibilities to be limitless. And they really are limitless for them. It's breathtaking to see.

I used to think I could keep up with the treacherous little darlings, you know? It was the final vanity before an ever-expanding waistline and the "Naw, you go out, there's a really cool Nova special on PBS tonight." was accepted as reality. Now, of course, while I have always, ALWAYS been old to them, I'm old to myself as well.

"WHAT ABOUT BARTERTOWN?" I demanded of them.

First of all, they've never seen Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and have no idea what I am talking about; secondly, halfway through the conversation it occurs to me--they have nothing to worry about. Adaptable, resilient, resourceful, Bartertown can come as it pleases, they'll survive and do beautifully. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no skills for Bartertown. I'm too right-brained for any applicable scientific knowledge like how to create energy from methane, have never been big on camping/survival skills (roughing it is one-ply toilet paper), and neither young nor limber enough to make it as a prostitute. Somehow I don't think Bartertown is going to be interested in a dilettante chef or knitter with 15,000 paperbacks who can recite the entire lyrics catalogue to the Beatles' Help album by rote.

If I don't cack it, since I have never actually been young in their eyes perhaps I can prevail on one of them to take pity on Auntie Del and she'll bring me food. It'll make for a good minute-and-a-half scene in the movie.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Her August Majesty, Sublimator

I recently staged an intervention for myself.

For those in the betting pool, it was not about Trashy Romance Novels, yarn (or its subsequent three-quarters-finished-never-to-be-completed projects, which actually isn't a bad idea either) or my compulsive need to use my refrigerator to house more dairy products than a herd of incredibly dedicated cows from around the world could produce in a fortnight.

Okay, I may have lied about the last one.

Genetically speaking, there's nothing I can do. I come from hearty Icelandic stock, which in point of fact I'm not sure actually has anything to do with dairy. I think living one's heritage at that point includes wearing aquatic fowl as evening wear and putting umlauts over important vowels. Maybe something to do with sheep and yarn, which at least might excuse another of my Very Bad Habits (dealing with yarn, not sheep, filthy-minded people). Also, somebody in the not-so-far-back family line was Danish or Swedish or something, and somewhere the Scottish enter into it with Clan Farquarson, which I think means we fight for the Jacobites, although I'm not sure who they are until I reread Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series later this year, having already missed the local Highland Games for the year.

Anyway, it's still not my fault. Whatever our history, we are a dairy-based people. My great-grandfather handed down a recipe for cream candy. Minus details like INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO MAKE IT. For my entire childhood I could count on Thanksgiving tradition, which produced men roaring incomprehensibly at football players on television, Aunt Pat playing the first Christmas carols of the season on a piano while we all sang along, Aunt Jane's divinity, and someone's attempt at cream candy, which could either be chipped from a block or sucked up with a soup spoon, depending on the year. For those who might be wondering, the ingredients are as follows:

Heavy cream
nuts (optional)

It has a fudge-like consistency, only not gritty or filled with marshmallow fluff. It's quite possibly one of the most magical creations on this earth. I will proudly state here and now, my brother cracked the recipe. In high school, no less, as a thug baby gangsta taking home ec. He can take a rainbow and sprinkle it with dew if he damn well feels like it, for he is the Candyman. Cream candy for everyone, HUZZAH!

So, back to the intervention...

Costco, you see, is the devil's playground. I know, for I cannot escape Costco without at least one item, roughly the size and bodyweight of me. What item, you ask yourself? IT DOESN'T MATTER. IT'S EFFING COSTCO. EVERYTHING THERE IS THE SIZE AND BODYWEIGHT OF ME. I am an impulse buyer, and I am over 30 and live alone. I have no business ever getting anywhere near a 300-hectare store like Costco, because once inside insanity reigns. "It may seem like a lot of olives," I will reason, "But it's only $6.99. That's how much I'd pay for TWO bottles of olives in a regular grocery store. And they are not even a THIRD the size of this bottle!" Never mind that I do not need olives. Never mind that there are so many olives in that bottle that when I die, my mother will place them over my eyes instead of coins. It's in bulk, and it's cheap. Thus is my true American heritage shown in full, vivid, no-place-to-store-olives-in-800-square-feet-of-duplex-but-they-were-$6.99-and-you-can't-beat-that Technicolor.

So, ladies and gentlemen, we approach the Costco cheese aisle.

It used to be easy. Cheddar for 300? No problem. Swiss for a dinner party of 95? Check us out. Slowly they eased us along. Suddenly one could find fresh mozzarella...fresh, mind you, hermetically sealed in its own colostomy bag of mozzarella water. Then it was quarters of parmesan, and a saucy flirtation with feta and maybe a whisper of brie.


Pecorino romano...smoked gouda...manchego, Irish Dubliner, emmantaler, jarlsberg, gruyere, even a Tillamook 3-year white cheddar. At prices far more reasonable than one should hope or dream. I was good, I swear it. I had a friend with me who helped me maintain an iron-clad rule: "No more than two cheeses," she reaffirmed after I explained to her what I needed and what was best, although not what I wanted. "You are a single woman. You will die alone, and you will rot faster than the cheese. Do you want those bastards to eat your haloumi?"

"No!" I roared. "Those bastards won't cook it right!"



"YOU KNOW IT!" she screeched and kicked a passer-by.

And then I saw it.

Neither of us knew what it was, what it would do to us.

We took it home, we read the label. Delice de Bourgogne, it said, Triple creme cheese. Imported from France. "What does that mean?" I wondered. "It means it was imported from France." "Shut up." We set out a crispy French baguette, and planned on an evening with a few friends, watching 30 Rock and having something new and different to eat. "It spreads like butter," I said reverently. "It melts like butter on the tongue. But it tastes like cheese." Thus does crack cocaine look innocuous, thus does the sex addict excuse himself with "just one more go."

It is, quite simply, a reason to live.

It is a reason to die.

It's the reason I give when I break down and cry.

And all of those are the reason that I showed up at work with a delicious snicky-snack in hand.

The entire quarter-wheel didn't make it to lunchtime.

Everyone else is addicted now, too.

Does an intervention count when you are actually the worst influence ever and get everyone else hooked on it as well?

More importantly, when can I get back to Costco to get more?