CHEAP EATS Rack of lamb. Smoked turkey. Smoked salmon. Seared tuna. Scallops in a saffron cream sauce. Roasted beets. Couscous. These things are in my refrigerator. They are leftovers from a holiday party I helped cater. Two, four, five, six people I called. None could come, so that leaves me, one person, your chicken farmer truly, to knock it all over, all by my lonely lonesome.
[Insert sound of chomping and chewing, tearing, lip-smacking, the gulping of bottles of cheap red wine, the grunting of 5,000 pigs, the burping and farting of four fat football players, a symphony of jackhammers, chainsaws, and meat grinders … and one small sweet-and-greasy chicken-farmerly sigh.]
Thus endeth a pretty weird year. Politics, the economy, my personal life … I’m not going to montage you, don’t worry. I’m going to sentence you. One sentence: Near the beginning of 2008 I left a sexy city boy to find me someone closer to home, and what I found was a woodsy, wonky couple watching slasher movies over barbecue, a couple of local married men, a foot fetishist, and a guy with lots of bondage gear and a rifle leaning against his bedroom wall who wanted to tie me up and I let him.
This is another sentence, agreed, but there was also the neighbor whose young son came out as bisexual while we were dating and probably could have used a little fatherly camaraderie (just a guess) … but dad couldn’t bring himself to tell the boy that, hey, he was sleeping with a tranny.
When, near the end of the year, I finally did fall in love, it was not with a Californian. Dude lived a couple thousand miles away and across an international border. Ah, and he was a wonderful man, but by the time the article came out and everyone started congratuutf8g me on my feat of Sir Reality, it was over.
I have a feat fetish. I like to take on absurd challenges, try to find innovative ways around them (usually involving rubber bands, duct tape, and wax paper wings) … and then invariably crash my latest weirdo flying contraption into the first tree stump I see, or get all tangled in hammocks and chicken wire.
You try to learn a little bit along the way. Like all great and not-so-great inventors, I keep records and take notes … hey! That’s what Cheap Eats is. Has become. But I have to confess (because I always do) that there is a small, strange thought buried deep in my inner bucket of bacon grease, which sometimes gurgles to the surface and astounds the crap out of me. It’s that twisted a hankering to write actual restaurant reviews.
Don’t get your hopes up. I’m just saying.
I tried to squeeze in one more Mr. Yeah, Right before the end of oh eight. There wasn’t a lot of time left, so things moved way faster than usual. Coffee turned into dinner turned into a walk in the rain turned into his arm around me turned into me pressed against a brick wall, his hands on my breasts and his tongue down my throat. The sex was terrible. He accused me of being a good Catholic girl, which hurt, even though he admitted I was a bad Catholic girl too.
I dressed in the dark, at the foot of his gigantic bed. He got up too, put his clothes on, and then offered to walk me to my car, which was how I knew I wouldn’t see him again. I said, "Nah. Thanks. That’s all right."
And drove home in tears, as usual.
I’m thinking of an Alanis Morissette song. I ask too many questions, I learn. I leap, I learn. I cling, I learn. I’m needy, I learn. Bad in bed, I learn. Beat myself up, I learn. I expect, I learn. I’m neurotic. I lack motivation. I can’t sing for shit or remember the words. I’m demanding, fickle, and a dangerous driver. When I need a friend, I withdraw.
My New Year’s resolution is to get an egg poacher.
But Christmas Day morning, driving home to the woods, scenic route, I saw a coffee cup on the top of a car in a driveway where there weren’t any people. I thought this was the most beautiful thing I’d ever see, until moments later I crested the big hill on Walker Road and there were the greenest fields spooning the bluest sky ever, and, on both sides of me, cows and cows and cows.
L.E. Leone’s new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.