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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Deep Fried Dreams

This one's fiction folks. It's heavily rooted, however, in my cooking daze, and a mosaic of people I've trudged the path with.
 Goda La Lettura!

"There it is!" I held the barely recognizable relic high in my stainless tongs.

"There what is?" Anthony, brand new boss, tossed me a sideways glare, never able to fully pull his attention away from his own causes and conditions.

"Another dream, Daddio."

"A dream. Are you drunk?"

He lowered his brow in suspicion.

"Look close."

He sighed and humored me a moment. He leaned in close, pushing my hand off of the lip of the deep fryer that he might rest his own.
Better be good. I need time to worry about life.

"Halibut. The King of the Food Fish!"

"How do you know? It's just a burnt piece of shit you dug out of the grease!"

I twirled the tongs with an upper hand and smiled wisely:

"Look! Flesh...still a hint of white. French fries go hollow. Onion rings, dead black. Mozza sticks just blow up into dust. This guy was a fighter; held on to the bitter end...left us brave evidence of his brief stay in our world...broke off from his own body, refusin' to be forgotten. He wasn't just going to end up in someone's stool! I wonder if he had a wife and kids. Maybe they'll reunite where the plumbing intersects. They're actually pretty ugly fish. Perhaps that's why God made them so tasty...give 'em some justice in the end."

"Wow. You're fuckin' nuts!"

"Oh, il mio amico, you are quite incorrect! Our over-fried friend has earned his memorial!"

And in a thick painted on accent of his bloodline he tossed me a dismissal, underlined with true-to-form flying hands:

"Forget about it Jasinto! We got the work to do!"

He was the crazy one. He was life imitating life; an Italian, red white and green in almost every way, tossing on the tongue of the old country like skin that didn't fit. He'd gotten his birthday suit in the Canuck fashion. When he spoke on the phone in his transplanted voice, one didn't see his charcoal eyes, the decided slope of his nose, the slight tan and thick lips, the Joey Bagadonuts total package, and one would assume he was just white trash like the rest of us.

He turned back to his red sauce, wrestling in vain with the basil/pepper/garlic balance. He dipped his finger and tasted often, continually shaking his head in mild despair. He wanted to pull it off. He wanted to fly his flag. He gave every hour of the day to his new Italian cuisine cause, never flinching. His was not a learning curve but a learning curb, and he tripped often. He'd demolished pastas, toppled delicate sandwiches, stalled supper rushes painfully, and was usually most effective in total absence. I'd stood guard in that tired kitchen for stagnant years already. My taste buds were sharp, my mind dulled. I'd vowed to escape it all a decade prior, but dreams are like that sometimes...broken off and lost in distraction.
I applauded him. He had a buon cuore. I felt slightly guilty always allowing him to amuse me, but it was a comfortable guilt.

His sauce was going nowhere. You can always add, you can never take away. Rules for cooking. Rules for life.

"You want some help before you bury your own flag over there?"

"Fuck off."

I jammed the gnarly coat hanger in and out of drain pipe of the deep fryer like a piston, flushing out yesterday's shit pile. The  sludge resisted my efforts for a time but finally surrendered in a swoosh and vanished into the murky pail of water.

"There they go, one and all."

"More talking dead fish?"

Anthony was lost in sauce, daring not take his eyes off of it. It had taken on a life of its own, the natural ingredients morphing into the realm of most unnatural...a monstrosity really. And so it goes in life sometimes...a pure, untainted vision ultimately becoming clouded with the crap we heap upon it, to a point of no return. Call me a pessimist if you wish. I prefer realist, and I'll cook you dinner if I'm wrong. He couldn't harness his creation. It swelled and bubbled in the pot, laughing I'm sure. His forefathers would curse: 
Oh madre di Dio! Cosa ha fatto? A starving Canadian would cry. 

I was still caught up in my own mess.

Deep fried dreams. You try to rescue them while they're still tangible, but sometimes they only sink to the bottom. At that point, all you can do is jam them through the waste pipe; they're mere obstacles then. If life must be dreamless, perhaps we should simply kill all traces of la speranza and get on with it. Or perhaps we should leave a hint or two behind...let the future know we were here.

Bagadonuts was drowning in his red mess. He finally slammed his whisk onto the table, having failed to slay his beast, and headed for the dining room, defeated. He paused for a moment as he passed me:

"I give up. You can fix it." 

"But can I?"


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