The odds

Pub date June 17, 2009
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink

CHEAP EATS Speaking of clocks running down, here it is, the second half of June, meaning by the time you read this I will be either in Germany, or dead. I’m pulling for the former.

My favorite ex-therapist, who shares my fear of flying, once told me every time he got on an airplane he had to first live his own death.

"Hmm. Tell me more about this," I said, crossing my legs and scribbling in my note pad, because that’s the kind of student of life I was, at that time: the kind who takes notes about every single thing, but learns nothing. "For instance," I prodded, because he was just sort of staring at me, speechless, "by ‘living your own death’ do you mean imagining it, accepting it, facing it face-to-face, kissing it on the lips? …" I looked at the box of Kleenex on the coffee table between us, and I looked at him. My goal in therapy has always been to reduce my shrink to tears. "Or do you mean wanting it, like anal sex," I said. "Take your time."

Now I am a different kind of student of life: the kind who stays out late drinking, sleeps through her first class, spends more time in the bathtub than at her desk, and couldn’t find the library with a map and eight weeks.

There’s a lot I don’t know. Give you an example: does my plane go down on the way there, or on the way back? My personal preference, and it’s a strong one, would be the way back. Kiz, who is coming with me but returning earlier, shares this preference.

My friend, my friends, I’m good at math, and philosophy. Death doesn’t listen. It kisses you back, but doesn’t care a lick about personal preferences. There is a 50 percent chance I will be dead by the time you read this. And a 50 percent chance that I will be a donut. And then dead when you read next week’s column, which I’ll hammer out as soon as I finish this, to be safe.

Plus, I don’t want to have to work while I’m on vacation. Which word (vacation) I use very very poetically. Are you listening, IRS? I am doing a reading in Berlin, I am meeting many times with my German translator, and we are pitching my book, our book, to publishers there. Honestly, I’m not just saying this in case the taxman is a fan of Cheap Eats. I mean, I am, obviously, but it also happens to be true.

I would like to look pretty while I’m there. To this end, I had another laser treatment to my chin before I left. Now, please don’t misunderstand me: I think the world of bearded ladies. I think they rock. I think they are the most beautiful people in the whole wide freakshow, and this is coming from a huge fan of both contortionists and strong men. But I have no idea how the Germans feel about them. Us. And, given what I am going through to get there (50 percent + 50 percent = let’s face it, 100 percent) I really really really REALLY would like to be loved in Berlin.

So, yeah, laser. Now, the thing about laser hair removal is you can’t pluck for a few weeks before, and then after, it takes a few weeks more for the hairs to fall out. Meanwhile you still can’t pluck. So that’s all together, what, a whole month of being kind of grizzly and self-conscious, learning to talk and eat and even in some cases kiss with your hand over your chin. Being naturally pensive, and thoughtful, I’m pretty good at this.

But the day of the treatment is the worst, because then you’re all red, too, and there are tears in the corners of your eyes and snot on your nose. Plus I had decided to get something else done too, while I was there, so my overall discomfort was, well, pretty dang discomfortable. Let’s just say that neither walking, nor sitting, felt quite right.

Still, you gotta pay the driver. Steak and eggs for Earl Butter, and, since I was moving, standing, and maybe looking a little bit truckerish anyway . . . chicken fried steak for me. These things — like death — you go with them.

Oh, and, yum! But where?


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L.E. Leone’s new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.