It’s so strange to sit here listening to you talk of how fat you were, comparing your past and present dimensions like some baseball record.
I’ve never been fat or particularly skinny, never gorged myself on chocolate cakes or fasted for days. I don’t even remember ever feeling guilty about food until I met George, who turned me on to brown rice, among other things. He took me aboard his boat on the grounds that I could cook. Having only recently left my Betty Crocker marriage behind, I was a total failure at brown rice and seaweed.
Cooking has been more of a trip than eating. First for my stodgy English father who wanted roast beef and boiled potatoes every night. Then for my young husband who still longed for his mother’s cooking. And since then, a long line of other folks and other food trips.
As a woman who knows how to cook I find myself again and again in the kitchen, whipping up somebody’s favorite dish. The liberated woman in me asks,“Why are you doing this for him? What need in you does it fulfill to see him stuffing his face with something you have cooked?”
So young, I learned from my mother that the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. Well-planned meals, elegantly set upon a table at which my mother was the servant and my father the lord.
How well I learned to copy her style, and even now I cannot cook well for myself. When I am alone I prefer sandwiches and boiled eggs. I can’t be bothered baking bread and cooking soups and casseroles only to sit alone and eat them. There’s no thrill in that. I still thrive on your face lighting up as I place a huge casserole of cheesey lasagne in front of you.
You’re still talking about being fat. How much of your fatness was a result of your mother’s never satisfied craving for love? What am I doing to you when I tempt you with cookies? What are you doing to me when you praise my fried chicken?
Sex rears its many-faced head in my kitchen and I see we are both caught up in a game much older than we are.
“Can she bake a cherry pie, Billyboy, Billyboy?”