So. This is how the story was told to me by my sister-in-law who was friends with the daughter of Mrs O. Who together with her husband ran a Turkish restaurant just off Green Lanes. Well, they were Kurdish really, which matters a lot in some contexts but not so much in this one. Anyway, Mr O was in charge of the chefs’ station, while Mrs O supervised the service and also handled the accounts. Even though Mr O was referred to by all as ‘boss’, no one wanted to look Mrs O in the eye when she passed on a customer’s complaint or, heaven forbid, returned a plate of food. Not even Mr O.
Since Mike, our youngest, went away to college, Derek and I have been eating a lot of meals in front of the TV, or, specifically, while watching Chopped, which seems to always be on the Food Network. We’ve started to eat dinner in front of it most nights, not sure what to say to each other. We need something to fill the silence.
I’ve never considered myself much of a cook, nothing special, anyway. I made meals the kids liked, homemade mac ‘n cheese, lasagna, hamburgers and roasted potatoes. But now that they’re both in college and thousands of miles away—they both insisted on getting as far away as they could—Derek and I have been eating a lot of premade and frozen meals. It’s different with half as much food to make. I keep buying more than we need and having to throw out rotten apples and potatoes with eyes. I have to halve recipes. Sometimes I buy things out of habit, like beef jerky or Double-Stuf Oreos—Mike’s favorite—and they go uneaten for months.
Apart from hunger, I have zip in common with Chizzy, but he’s ex-army and knows how to handle himself. It was my idea to pair. Chizzy’s a quiet one, keeps a low proaf. Literals: we’re elb-to-elb in cold grit and he’s silent as a panther. Got the same lean, muscular phys’ too. Mabes he’s stashed some weights some place and works out, sly-style. We have time apart daily so we don’t do each other’s heads in – not so long we morb-out though. There’s zip to be gained from that.
It’s Audrey on patrol tonight, pacing back-forth on the other side of the fence. She’s ‘resplendent in Halloween green’ through Chizzy’s mil’-grade binoculars.
I am embarrassed by my dissection of the sandwich. My fingers pick away at it, clumsily pulling apart the various parts, like some inexpert surgeon.
Why did they have to put onions in it? Is nothing sacred?
Outside the window someone who looks a bit like someone I know walks by.
I continue my open-heart sandwich surgery, easing open the bread skeleton, pulling apart the strands of cheesy yellow flesh, prodding around the tomato red blood cells.
My mother always said it was my nursery got me started: citrine walls like sunshine that made my future bright.
As a toddler, I played with lemons, rolled them on the floor, threw them like a ball and nibbled them, the way that toddlers do. I liked the taste, craved more. I begged Mum for lemon chicken, lemon pancakes, lemon drizzle, lemon this, lemon that, lemon, lemon, lemon and, at the sweet shop on Saturdays, saliva pooling underneath my tongue, I watched Helen weigh my lemon sherbets on a silver scale.
It’s a quarter to twelve and I’m staring at this yellow light
Not sure if I’m looking for food or something to think about
I’m not hungry, but I’m certainly not full
A midnight snack fool with yellow light hue
The greens that occupy my bottom two shelves
Beach Boys asking about my favourite vegetable
Its aubergine if you must know, brain at quarter to twelve
But greens aren’t what I’m after, I’m in need of something else
It’s our first night together as a couple in Brooklyn and you’re belting out the theme song to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Till this day, it’s probably hands down our favorite TMNT film to be made—not that crappy Michael Bay-produced rebooted one where the turtles don’t even look like turtles but more like creatures from a drunken nightmare that you can’t wake up from.
Even though you only know the very beginning of the theme song–heroes in a half shell turtle powerrrr—it doesn’t bother me. Not one bit. In fact, I find it kinda funny and join along, making sure to harmonize with your off-key vocals, mostly because I don’t want to disrupt the radness of the moment since I know these moments don’t come too often these days ever since we both got grownup jobs in the city making it that much harder to find time for one another. Still—we try.