Friday, December 2, 2011

Wanted: Light at the end of the tunnel

Last night I was almost guilty of oversharing. I had stopped in at the butcher on a whim - I had been planning to make a pizza for supper, craving red sauce, but when I rose out of the Bergen Street subway at 6.40, back from a two hour hospital visit, I smelled roasting meat, and salivated. So I walked into Los Paisanos to buy steak. I needed red meat. My hospital friend, Betty, was felled by anaemia and her hospital dinner of thin meat in gravy had sat under its blue plastic cover ignored while she ate one of my funny little melkterts and said she would not eat supper.

Behind the glass meat counter as the young butchers were cleaning the shop and putting things away and racing to leave for the night, Pedro asked me how I was. And that was when I almost told him. Itemized. You know those people. You say, How are you? And they tell you. And it's never good.

Close call. When I heard myself still talking I pressed my lips together, and saved it for my husband. Three dark blocks and several flights of stairs away, sitting on the edge of the white bed, I freaked out, before downing his coupe of prosecco. Then I overcooked the steaks while he kept me company on the daybed. I told him to pretend we were in Argentina. I threw together a raw beet, apple and celery salad, took out the bottle of pickled mustard seeds. I made quick, loud chimichurri in the blender, the violent green of parsley and cilantro cholorphyll, the raw garlic and lime a quick and sobering slap in the face and tonic at once. Snap out of, it. Breath. You can do it. One thing at a time.

(Time...time. Therein lies the catch.)


  1. I think people who don't really want to know how you are shouldn't ask. How many times do people say "How are you?" in greeting, then just keep walking without waiting for an answer? Or they look away and focus on something else. If you feel someone is waiting for a genuine response, go ahead and say you're not so great that day, but thanks for asking and offer an appreciative half-smile. I'd better stop before this comment gets out of hand! Insincere how-are-yous really bother me. They invalidate people. And here you are feeling like you're not free to give an honest answer, with or without oversharing.

  2. Taking a few deep breaths can sometimes create the difference between coping and loosing it.

    Deep breaths are always available to us, if we just manage to remember the simplicity of it all.

    Thanks for this reminder, especially at this time of year!

  3. I agree with Sylvanna 100 percent. People who are not interested in hearing a response to the question but simply want to express goodwill should instead say something like "hope you've been well."

  4. Never enough time.

    It does appear that social graces dictate that we display how well we hold ourselves together.

    Despite ourselves.

  5. It's good to have a husband waiting at home who will listen. For the others, I guess a deep breath and a "I am hungry and a little tired" has to be enough in order to be honest yet socially appropriate.

    Too bad about those steaks but there will be others.

  6. oh dear, is this Betty your nonagenarian friend who was director of the BBG? If so, double oh dear. It's such a helpless feeling. My thoughts are with you.

    Beef is restorative for certain anemias -- perhaps a thermos of beef tea would be welcome? Seriously.

    -Melanie, et al

  7. I love the way you write, I feel like I am there witnessing your experience. & I can totally relate to the breathing bit.

  8. Bless you who have blesssed so many others!

  9. For once I agree with Anonymous! :) Thinking of you, Marie!


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