Alternative Title: what happens on a loopy Friday night…
When I was a kid my mom provided home-cooked dinners every night for years. Growing up as the youngest of four kids in a very middle class family, that meant a relatively routine cycle of meals that fit the family budget. Of course, when I was a kid I didn’t realize any of this. And there was something else that I didn’t know until much later as well. Once I left home and went out on my own and demonstrated a love for cooking, my mom told me she didn’t understand where I got it from because she hated cooking — which probably explains the routine cycle of our weekly dinner menu. Spaghetti, chicken prepared the same way week after week, white trash tacos, sliced ham and macaroni and cheese, and I don’t remember what else.
But, every once in awhile, my mom made something different. In family lore, the truly classic example of this is the night my mom made Greek Lasagna. In my memory, we eagerly waited at the table as she presented a casserole dish with this dark dish of pasta or something that was going to be incredible. And within a few minutes after each of us had taken a bite, my father was on his way to McDonald’s to provide us with the sustenance we needed. So, understand something. I grew up in an environment in which what was put on your plate was what you were going to eat. The idea that we got McDonald’s that night instead of having to eat the Greek Lasagna my mom made for us shows just how horrible it was.
(Here’s the weird thing about this … with the advent of the internet and the intervening years, I’ve never looked up what Greek Lasagna is. I just did. It really doesn’t look that bad. So, I don’t get what happened all those years ago.)
But sometimes my mom got it right with her experiments. Back in the 70’s we had a fondue pot. It was red. Complete with cute little forks to spear bread with and dip into the pot and the cheesy goodness that bubbled in there. Yes, we were so cool and hip and with it that, every now and then, we had cheese fondue. In my memory, when we had cheese fondue for dinner, we were fancy. We were breaking out of our mold. This was … something special.
As an adult, I have almost never had cheese fondue. I can remember having it only once or twice over the last 25-30 years. A few weeks a co-worker mentioned she was going to have cheese fondue for dinner that weekend and I was intrigued. I printed out a recipe. This morning, Queen Midget asked for ideas for dinner tonight. I told her the cheese fondue recipe I had printed out.
We had cheese fondue for dinner. Sourdough bread and salami for dipping. A bowl of strawberries and blueberries to accompany it. And after dipping and dipping and dipping, I was reminded of something I recalled from all those years ago. There’s this thing about cheese fondue. It’s really good. Just so incredibly yummy. Until it isn’t. I don’t know if it’s the wine flavor, or something else, but there’s this point that isn’t explained by being full. It’s just that there is this … twinge in the flavor that becomes too much. It overwhelms the cheesy goodness and…
Well, I had cheese fondue tonight. I relived my childhood. It was good. Until it wasn’t. Not sure when I’ll need to have cheese fondue again.
Which, of course, leads to the next obvious topic. A little over a month ago, I wrote about Rob Brezsny’s horoscopes. About his uncanny ability to strike a chord for me. No matter how much I do not believe in horoscopes, Brezsny’s seem so frequently to get to the very core of things for me. I checked out my Brezsny-authored horoscope in the local alternative weekly today and here’s what it said:
Russian writer Ivan Turgenev was a Scorpio. Midway through his first novel Rudin, his main character Dmitrii Nikolaevich Rudin alludes to a problem that affects many Scorpios. “Do you see that apple tree?” Rudin asks a woman companion. “It is broken by the weight and abundance of its own fruit.” Ouch! I want very much for you Scorpios to be spared a fate like that in the coming weeks. That’s why I propose that you scheme about how you will express the immense creativity that will be welling up in you. Don’t let your lush and succulent output go to waste.
When I got to “It is broken by the weight and abundance of its own fruit” I thought ‘ah-ha’ he is on to me once again. I have been called the Angel of Darkness and the Joykiller. I have been accused of being an Eeyore instead of a Tigger. I have been accused of having a glass half-empty instead of half-full perspective. And to all of these charges, I plead guilty.
Because I believe in reality. I don’t believe in sugarcoating things. I believe that while celebration is a worthy goal, one must always look at the other side of things. And while the people around me want to focus on the celebration, I generally focus on the “yeah, but what about …” So, yeah, the apple tree can be incredible, laden with fruit, but there’s a reality there if there is too much fruit. The tree will be broken and something will happen as a result of that reality. That’s a fact.
And then I got to this part … “the immense creativity that will be welling up in you. Don’t let your lush and succulent output go to waste” … and I just wanted to cry because I simply don’t feel that anymore. I don’t know where my creativity has gone. I don’t feel like it is welling up in me. Instead I feel like there is this immense void, a sinkhole where that thing once was. Lush and succulent? Try “dried up and shriveled beyond recognition.”
There was this time … hell, let’s call it the first 40 years of my life when I thought I had not a creative bone in my body. Then, one day I outlined a novel in my head on the drive home and spent the next year writing that novel. And then wrote another. And dozens of short stories. And … well all sorts of things. And now I think I’m an imposter. A pretender. That lush and succulent output, the creativity I never expected to have is gone. All completely gone.
So, yeah, Mr. Brezsny, you got it half right this week. I only wish you had got it completely right. I want to feel that thing I felt for a few years. I want to feel creativity bursting forth. I just don’t know where it will come from or if it is even there anymore.
Time for me to go make some Greek Lasagna. Maybe I’ll invite my mom over to give it a try.