I want to eat like her

It was the woman in red dress that decided my restaurant choice.

Or, perhaps I should say, it was her face.

Behind large wooden doors pushed open to the night breeze were couples and candlelight, and I thought… no.

But something caught my eye.

Yes, it was her face.

At the time it was upturned, with eyes closed, unmoving.  In her hand an empty soup spoon poised somewhere between mouth and bowl. It hung in the air like a comma, waiting.  I, too, found myself unmoving, holding my breath.

She relaxed her shoulders and slowly swallowed, I could almost feel the silent moan of pleasure as it flashed across her face.

I exhaled

And I thought

I want to eat like her.

Barely able to avert my eyes, I entered.

Yes, a table for one, yes, a table by the window, yes, yes.

The chair proffering views of twinkling lights is shunned for one that affords the view of the red dress.  Of the woman.  Of the face.

Like me, she dined alone, but she wasn’t alone.

Her companions were scattered across the table.

A dish of pasta, the trails of sauce over linen.

A bowl of bread with crust broken, thick chunks lavished with butter.

Mussel shells, spilling from bowl onto platter.

These were her companions.

Spoon became fork, she twirled pasta. Ribbons raised then deftly lowered; once again the cutlery paused in repose. Then again. And again.

She chewed slowly, eyes closed; it was hard not to stare as she ate.

Between bites, she stopped, she sipped, she sighed.

The rapture on her face, evident.

Occasionally, her head gave a shake and the red dress followed suit, shivering in pleasure.

Her brows would rise and she’d run her tongue through her teeth, concentrating. First a frown, then a smile.

I imagined the inward talk.

The groan of satisfaction.

When the dessert menu was offered, there was only one word.

Yes.

I watched as she perused the offerings like a child would a picture book, tracing the words with her finger, mouthing silently as she read.

In the final clearing, the server comes to lift the flatware.  As he raises the bowl she stills his arm, extends her finger, and wipes it slowly across and around the base, scooping the remains of sticky sweetness before seductively sucking her finger.

And again I thought…

I want to eat like her.

 

She had no inhibitions, this unaccompanied diner. Where I was the visitor, she was at home. She occupied her space, living there, in that moment.

I wanted to applaud, for her meal had been my night’s theatre.

I have no idea what I ordered, no memory of my wine, my meal.

Yet I can recall her menu, her dishes, simply by closing my own eyes and thinking of her face.

Meg Ryan faked it.

The woman in the red dress had it.

I want it.

I want to eat like her.

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Best Served Cold

Books make it seem surreal, I think. I mean really, how often do wronged wives behead their lovers – or cut the brake line of the family car?  Honestly.  

No, in real life that’s not the case. If it were, prison cells would be full of women who had grounds for hysteric actions; lawyers would be making a fortune whilst citing moon cycles and hormone studies as defense suits.

In real life, revenge has to be something…. subtle.

Spiteful, pointed… poking a stick in the eye without anyone else really seeing it; know what I mean?

Not that I would ever consider carrying out a truly vengeful act. I just don’t have the stomach for it.

I’ll just take another sip of my tea. Calm down a bit more. Really, I must be quite rational here. After all, 10 years of marriage is not to be taken lightly, and I do have to think of my social standing. 10 years with this miserable stinking bastard who thinks its fine to dilly dally with his floozies… but…. I digress.

Sorry. I should be thinking calm thoughts. Yoga was good for that – all that standing on my head and CHI and blood flow and stuff. And it was just terrible when our Yogi slipped down the stairs after class that day – and just steps in front of us all, too! I wasn’t able to run down and help her as fast as the others, even though I was the closest – it must have been that extra 15 pounds she said I was carrying. Slowed me down a bit I guess. I hear the neck brace comes off in a few weeks and they expect she’ll be walking again come November. Good news. 

Ohhmmmm…..     There, that’s better. I feel much calmer now. Meditation is good for the soul.

You know me. Takes quite a bit to rile me up or get me going. And I always bounce back from anything untoward with a smile on my face. So while terrible things seem to happen to people around me, I remain untouched. Charmed, some say. Lucky. Perhaps so. I just like to think I am nice. Noble, you know.

I would never do anything nasty. Even when Sylvia from work stole my submission for the council application and put it to the manager in her own name. Of course I was peeved, but really, it wasn’t worth getting my knickers in a twist about. Funny, though, how she became so ill with the aaahhh…runs… for days afterwards and was not able to attend the interview for the position. Imagine 3 days of stomach cramps out of the blue, just like that! Right about the time the syrup of Ipecac went missing from the first aid supplies too. Certainly made me chuckle! I do hope she liked the lamb stew I sent over to help her recover and gather some nutrients again. I do like to help.

Oh, and then poor Lydia. Remember her? At the Christmas party, too!  In her pretty red dress and sparkly earrings, she was the centre of attention, and my, didn’t I make sure that told her how gorgeous she looked in those oh-so-high heels! Why, I even offered to hold her purse and fur coat while she went to the ladies room. Well, it wasn’t really a room, was it? One of those portable toilet room cubicle things they had installed on the green especially for our outdoor party. Of course, when the cubicle tipped over everyone came rushing to help – and wasn’t I the one who took her home, paid the cab fare and all?  Seeing her leave through the middle of the fancy white gazebo all covered in excrement in front of 200 people is bad enough – paying the cab fare was the least I could do.

I am nice like that.

And of course, there was Jackson. He never did find out who poured milk through the open sunroof of his sports car while he was on his overseas trip, did he? Mind you, it was helpful to me because I did not have to listen to those damn wheels spinning at 4am every goddamned day as he sped off to his job at the bakery. Apparently they could not remove the smell at all. Bugger that his insurance had lapsed. He didn’t even notice the renewal didn’t arrive in his mailbox – yet the company representative says they posted the renewal at the same time they do every year. Mind you, he does not seem to mind catching the bus too much – and I even offered to feed his cat every afternoon for him. I mean, a 2 hour commute twice a day does make the working day long. Nice cat, and now I can lock her inside between feeds I don’t even have to worry about those nasty little gifts she would leave on the front mat from time to time. See? Nice person.That’s me.

But husbands… husbands who cheat. Maybe they do deserve a little taste of their own medicine.

What do you think? After this nice cup of tea is downed, I am thinking I may have to indulge in a little revenge, just this once…

(Edit:- after an email enquiring as to my “okayness”, I must emphasise that this post is fiction. Just in case you are thinking that perhaps I may need some psychiatric assessment….or something…. :)      )

Losing my Best Friend

Dear friend,

I don’t know why you left me. I don’t know what happened that turned you away.

I don’t know the thought processes that went in to making the decision you made.

I don’t know if you agonized, rationaled, or seesawed with emotion, or if you simply said ‘over’.

I don’t know if you were led, deceived or misinformed. I don’t know if there were preceding events, or if I simply failed in meeting your expectations.  I don’t know if I let you down.

I simply don’t know.

I do know we were friends – closer than sisters – for over 30 years.

And then we weren’t.

From the age of 6 and 8, respectively, you and I, we were almost inseparable. From the day your brother knocked over our back fence so we could talk without peering through the pickets, we were peers. We danced. We laughed. We kissed boys. We sang to the same bands, our hairbrushes synchronised with our hotpants as we emulated Agneta and Annifrid,  Dancing Queens.

I knew when you first had a boy friend. I knew when you first did it, and was both at once startled and stimulated when you did it again. I mopped up the pieces when he broke your heart.  You cried, I cried, then we went to see Grease and ate malteasers and ice cream.

You taught me to shave my legs, pluck my eyebrows and inhale without coughing. I taught you how to do your hair so it covered your ears.

I was there when you first shoplifted. You were there when I had my first period. The rites of passage, we shared together, first you, then me, but always together.  I was there when your sister hit you. You were there when my dad hit me. I yelled at your sister. You yelled at my dad. Together we vowed – no one would hit us when we were adults. No one.

We were so brave.

I do know the exact moment when I realised that you had gone.

It was there, in the funeral home.

The first time we had been in the same place, at the same time, for over a decade.  We were there because we had both lost the same somebody. You walked towards me, my arms raised, ready for the warm hug I had missed. Yes, you returned the embrace – but it was cool, perfunctory, brief.

It confused me.

It was like being hit.

I looked for solace in your eyes, but your eyes didn’t want to look into mine. They darted away of their own accord and busied themselves watching nearby relatives.

I could have asked.

You could have told.

But neither one of us were brave.

I’d been gone for a long time. 15 years goes by so quickly when life gets in the way. You had married again, your girls – the ones that learned to walk in my house –  are now fully grown, beautiful women.  I  had a child, creating life at around the same time as you were setting teenagers off to find their own wings.

I always was that few steps behind you.

I just didn’t realise the gap had grown so damn wide.

That was three years ago, friend. It’s taken me this long to write you this letter. I didn’t know the words. I didn’t understand the feelings. I guess, also, I hoped that if I let it be, it wouldn’t be broken.

But it is.

I don’t know how to fix it.

But I do know one thing.

I miss you.

x

(edit: Published iviilage May 2013)

When Shaun Micallef Came to Visit

Like most people,  someone dropping in unexpectedly sends me into a mild spin. How clean is the house? Is my hair brushed? Are the toilets clean? (I live with boys, you get the idea).

The idea of a celebrity dropping in unannounced sends me into a major spin. I would need a week to get the house in order, lose 5 kilos, have my hair done and try  for a make-over. Especially if it was a celebrity that I have a mild crush on.

But when  Shaun Micallef came to my house, I was naked.

In the bathroom.

Wrapped in a towel.

The bathroom down the boys end of the house, not the ensuite off my bedroom.

Teen son led said celebrity straight to his bedroom and proceeded to show him scouting badges, model cars, aircraft oddities and train sets. Surprisingly, Shaun Micallef proved to be an ex-boy scout, enthralled with scout badges, blankets and plane paraphernalia.  Who knew? Jarrod, Toby and Steve were stoked. Not only were there 4 geeks in the house, there was a geek idol. A celebrity geek idol.

And a naked mother in the bathroom.

Toby took great delight in sticking his head through the door and announcing that “Shaun Micallef is here, didjaknow?”

Horrified that Toby was now also in the bathroom, giving away my secret lair, I snapped at him to shut the door and go away.  I sat on the loo, and listened as Shaun Micallef was given the grand tour of the house – including all things messy – by 4 teen geeks. I hoisted the towel and peered at my drying tangled hair while Shaun Micallef sat at the kitchen bench and conversed with 4 teens about planes, trains and other things geeky.

Bravely, I snuck through the hallway to the kitchen nook. I was about to throw caution to the wind and do a bolt for my bedroom behind Shaun Micallef’s back when an alarm went off. Shaun Micallef and 4 teen geeks all looked towards the alarm system just as I emerged. The alarm was jangling , my towel was slipping and 5 sets of male eyes were upon me. Eyes closed and mortified, I steeled myself to be brave. Open my eyes. One, two, three

My son turned off the bedside alarm and put down a nice fresh cup of Earl Grey tea beside my bed.

You right there mum? You were making weird faces in your sleep. Sounded like someone was trying to strangle you! What are you making me for lunch? Can Toby and Jarrod and Steve come over this weekend on the public holiday? Oh, and mum, I have to wear Chinese costume for cultural day….

This weekend, my house will be spotless, and I will be NOT using the boys bathroom at all.

When Shaun Micallef comes to visit, I want to make sure I am not in the bathroom.

It could be very unpleasant.

Published on ivillage news May 17 2013

Verbosity – an extension of me.

I have always been a writer.

I have never been succinct.

From primary school forwards, words were my friend. (Numbers, however, were not). Ask me for 50 words, I give you one hundred.

My first ‘published’ works were fiction snippets during my teen years. I took pleasure in  seeing my ‘letters to the editor’, small magazine articles, semi regular columns in my local newspaper. In later years a few of my ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ made print. After the birth of my son, I was commissioned to write a series of 12 manuscript modules for a training Institution. Although the pay wasn’t huge, it fed and clothed us for 12 months, and I could claim the title of ‘writer’ with a little legitimacy.

It was this love of words that led me to blogging.

I began blogging in 2005. My initial blog was more an extension of myself than a ‘platform’. It was a place where I could pour out my words and attain some form of instant gratification by seeing my words in print.

It was an extension of ‘me’. It was my love of food – of tastes, flavours, passion for produce. It was my love of home renovation, restoration and design. It was my child’s life in words and images, it was my life in parody, pleasure and pain. It was reflections on the families in my classroom, the children I taught, the oddness of some and the kindness of others. I wrote of growing up with a dysfunctional family, of alcoholism and abuse, the death of a parent, the discovery of myself and 5 brothers of whose existence I didn’t even know. It was  a place to pour pleasure and pain onto paper.

My renovations made magazines such as Country Home ideas and House, culminating in a wonderful 5 page spread with images. I am still pretty proud of that. My parodies have been reprinted for family fun, and I am often asked to revisit that skill and write up funny verse for a family event. But over the years, as a busy mum, teacher, part business owner, landlord and more, my skills have depleted. Squashed down by time constraints. Bound down by work policy – social media use by teachers is now strongly frowned upon unless it has some type of anonymity. And as life has ramped up the expectations of fitting 36 hours work into a 24 hour a day, much of myself has fallen by the wayside.

These days, it seems you are not a ‘blogger’ if you don’t have a platform. You need a ‘brand’. There are style bloggers and fashion bloggers and hair bloggers and perfume bloggers. There are chef bloggers and food bloggers and restaurant review bloggers and wine bloggers. There are the mummy bloggers. The minority bloggers. The body issue bloggers. There are author bloggers and fan club bloggers and stalking bloggers and florist bloggers and bloggers that only write for the 18+ marketplace. And some of these are DAMN GOOD bloggers.I love what they do, and their niche markets. Others are crap. I skip them.

I am not a something blogger. I am just person who likes to write about what I like. My blog is a just a well rounded place to visit where you, as a reader, can learn about me, should you so wish. My house. My home. My renovations.  My family. My environment. And my travels with food – every cooking, eating, shopping, tasting, smelling, spicy glorious moment of it.

Verbosity is an extension of me. So is my blog.