Cooking Lesson I
It oozed grease, grease that spilled onto a wood floor and
crawled up hungry walls. Yellow grease that had turned brown
with dust over the years. Everything within reach was a sticky
gooey mess. The hard by air was so thick, I could hardly get
near that part of the kitchen. Though I'm genetically at odds
with kitchens, this stove in particular gave me the creeps.
Cooking Lesson I
Midnight after a bout of sex with The Stud, I would fight my
way out of bed and wander downstairs beyond touch of his sweat,
his snore. Well, I never got past the bottom step because there
from the kitchen I could see a hammering bile glow: the heartbeat
of a monster, the high-pitched whine of torment. My marriage,
only months old, was up for grabs. The Stud refused to buy a
Summer light soon withered. The honeymoon of barbeque, cold soup,
chilled salads was fast coming to an end. The sweat and snore
kept right on, even as snow began to fall. And straight past
my whining, food preparation moved indoors. I did learn to light
burners without singing body hair. I managed the grease fires.
Instead of a new oven, one day The Stud brought home a pot roast
with a cookbook. Well, it was one of those small pamphlets the
Cattlemen's Association thinks won't offend vegans, animals or
Oprah. Evidently it offended the oven, because it wouldn't light
for two solid hours. We ate at eleven.
Over time I learned to stick spoons in banana bread and serve
baked potato - al dente. And after our bed bouts, I finally managed
to bypass the kitchen to do midnight hikes, snow or no. This
hour seemed to calm me from the evening's fiasco at the stove
and ready me for the next day's writing. The last hike - full
moon down by the creek, through the woods over the ridge and
back to the cabin - was met by paramedics who had The Stud on
a stretcher. He looked awful, not the man I married for sure.
They called it a suicide attempt, but I know it was the oven
I began the molding project when The Stud bought a new stove
like maybe he expected meals.
I heard the forest cry as I sanded, stained, and varnished the
molding. The forest moaned when I made miter cuts to match our
kitchen of a thousand corners. Now, I realize the woods don't
forget. They suffer phantom pain.
I hoped this molding project would delay meals for more than
three months. Evasion made me proud, even happy. Between breaks
writing, I also mudded the ceiling, painted, lined shelves and
shuffled around wedding presents. This was preferable to boiling
baking and burning. Another plus, I spent more time writing than
ever before. I was fixing to hire a cook and spin off that gruesome
job with publication of TheGreatAmericanNovel. The Stud was working
fast on the track to power and not a fuss-ass about our cabin,
our kitchen, our meals. In fact, he would call when leaving the
office. I'd run down to the village and voilá another
take-out dinner. Right through winter snow, we ate at a small
table overlooking a despondent forest.
One spring day of torrential rains, I swept downstairs to the
coffee pot and found the last mounted molding not anywhere near
the ceiling but on the plank floor. It was shaped a lot like
Rheumatoid Arthritis: gnarled and knotted.
I replaced the piece. Finished just in time for another candle
lit meal of take-out. Next morning same thing, only this time
two pieces were down. I could nearly see the deformities grow.
I felt their pain bodies. That night I met The Stud for dinner
in town and again each evening for the next three weeks.
Rain continued. Finally so did my molding project. I switched
to that pressed substitute so dense I had to buy a nail gun and
generator. The forest perked up. And when I received a book deal,
the rains stopped. Molding stuck. I interviewed cooks.
Where was the old twisted molding? And why wasn't it on the to
burn pile where I had tossed it? Why did I find it months later,
deep in a calm cedar glen unstained, uncut, varnish gone. It
had somehow melded and was branching fronds. At its base, a bronze
plaque read, the past is improbable, the present infinite.
Best cooking lesson yet.