Saturday, March 9, 2024

I Ain't Old Baby. I'm Brand New

I'm a good cook.  I make delicious meals almost every night.  Dinner for one.  Scoff if you will, but it is true.  I've been the predominate cook in my house since I was in my twenties.  It has been out of necessity.  Only my college girlfriend enjoyed the kitchen.  But even then, I was cooking, too.  It was hippie times.  I had bought a vegetarian cookbook and was making delicious bean stews and cheesy lentil casseroles.  After college, I was on my own.  That is when I learned to eat out.  I met some people who worked as servers and bartenders, and they would go to restaurants for lunch and get big plates of shrimp fettuccinis and drink cocktails.  My tastes expanded.  

I'm not saying I'm a chef.  No, I am a good cook.  When I was floor boss at the factory, I hired a lot of young kids who grew up with the famous chefs and cooking shows.  They were more "chef-like" than I, using reductions and sauces and consommés that took hours and hours to prepare.  They shared duck fat and celery roots and other things I hardly understood.  Sometimes they'd laugh at my culinary ignorance.  I got invited to dinners, though, and often. . . well. . . I was the better cook.  I could make tasty meals out of basic foods. . . with the best of them.  

I will admit, however, that my palate became  better for their meals and lessons.  

Lately, however, I haven't been able to make a decent steak.  I've been blaming the grill. It just doesn't seem to get hot enough.  My steaks haven't been searing.  There is no sizzle.  They come off the grill just grey beef.  I don't know what happened.  I've always been able to grill steaks.  

Last night, I decided to go a different route.  It is a common one, I'm certain, but not one I've ever explored, being. . . you know. . . men, meat, and fire!  But I read an article on the common mistakes people make when preparing a good steak, so I bought a Porterhouse from Whole Foods (who truly have the best steaks in town) and left it out to approach room temperature.  I patted it dry with paper towels before I seasoned it--simply salt and pepper--and turned the oven on to 450 degrees.  I poured some olive oil in the enameled cast iron Dutch oven and turned the burner on high.  I braised the steak on each side for two minutes, then put it in the preheated oven for nine.  

Fuck me!  That's the way to cook a steak!

Served with steamed Brussels sprouts, oven roasted shitaki mushrooms, baked beans and brown jasmine rice, and a good red.  My head was spinning.  

There was a knock at the door.  It was the tenant.  She was making loaves of banana bread and wanted to know if I would like one.  Well, now. . . indeed I would.  I love banana bread and have even made it using an old girlfriend's recipe, but this is where I am a cook and not a chef.  Not a pastry chef, anyway.  Making bread is the messiest thing I have ever done.  Cleanup is ridiculous and I have given the whole thing up.  After dinner, I sliced into the small loaf.  Dense.  Really, really dense and not too sweet.  I ate almost all of it right away.  

This had been a hell of a meal.  It was time for a whiskey.  

The phone rang.  I don't often answer the phone at night, but it was my Yosemite buddy.  

"What's up, nigga?"

He was sitting outside at his son's soccer practice.  He was just checking in.  

"What are you doing sitting at home alone on a Friday night?  Are you still waiting for that knock on the door."

He knows me well.  

"I've been waiting, you know, but I don't think anyone's going to knock again."

"You need to get out and let people see you."

"No I don't.  They don't want to see me.  Trust me."

"What about that woman you told me about?"

"I don't think that's going to work out.  We are not the same type, I think.  She's really practical."

"Maybe that's what you need."

"No I don't.  I need someone who at least kind of understands me.  I don't need anymore criticism.  I've had that."

"Well come on out.  I'll fix you up with some mountain girls.  Remember Faith?"

"I don't know.  I can't recall."

"Well, she remembers you.  Come out, man.  You'll have fun."

"Yea. . . I think I remember fun.  I'd like some of that.  Fun would be good."

"Let's go back to Mexico City."

"Yea. . . that's what we should do."

Like all my married friends, both male and female. . . .  There are always compromises and fantasies.

"Does your wife still like you?"

"Yea. . . once in awhile.  Once every week or two. . . you know." 

It's an old story, a common joke.  

"I'd rather live in solitude than spend another lonely night with you."

Q highlighted that line when I wrote it a few posts back.  It's a good one.  But I have put that to the test, too.  I'm funny.  I'm smart.  I'm a good cook.  

"Are you still waiting for that knock on the door?"

Yea, yea, yea. . . . 

"Let's go back to Mexico City."


"Senorita. . . senorita. . . por favor. . . . "

I know it's wrong, but I think I will get another Vespa.  When you are not getting run over almost to death, they are really fun.  After talking with my buddy, rather than turning on the television, I'd take a little ride.  Sliding through the night air is like floating with a Friday moon.  Everything changes.  You feel different than you did the moment before.  And eventually you end up somewhere, a cafe or a coffeehouse, and there are people looking at you.  You don't need to worry about parking.  You just pull up anywhere.  When you get off the bike, you feel like a star in an Italian movie and you know that people envy you.

That's how I remember it, anyway.  My little village is the perfect place for one.  A scooter wouldn't do you much good out in the 'burbs.  And not buying another Vespa isn't going to fix the damage already done.  

I want to post some music.  I have so many good songs I want to share with you, but I need to match the melody with the tone of the thing I am writing.  Somewhat, anyway.  So. . . here's what Saturday night and Sunday morning should sound like.  Exactly.  I'll post the song and then lyrics of another.  You know me.  I'm a conflicted character full of heartbreak, love, and promise 💔💔💔💔💔.  

Maybe you could tell your friends.  

Don't ask me if I'm lonely, baby
You know I'm lonely
If I wasn't lonely then I wouldn't be talking to you
I'm trying to drink this poison
And see if it'll kill me
I used to have immunity, but now I don't know what it'll do
You don't know where I've been
I was just a canvas back then
But now I'm drippin' with paint
I ain't old baby, I'm brand new
Don't ask if I've been writing, baby
You know I ain't been writing
If I'd been writing then I wouldn't be talking to you
I'm trying to board this trainwreck
I used to have a ticket
All the best shit I've ever written, honey
It's all been coming from you
So don't shut me up
It ain't like it was
I've shed some layers
I ain't old baby, I'm brand new
That old cocoon is dead and gone
I ain't old baby, I'm brand new
I ain't old baby, I'm brand new
I ain't old baby, I'm brand new

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