What if …

Pub date October 28, 2009
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink


CHEAP EATS Surreally, I find myself a student at Kennesaw State University north of Atlanta. It’s weird. Not the least because I am not really of course a student. I’m a guest of the university. Technically I’m a guest of a guest of the university.

Romea is the rock star. I’m a tag-alonger, which suits me. Turns out I am good at tagging along. Sometimes I even say things. For example, I have managed to interject the word "barbecue" into several cuisiney conversations, and while they acknowledge it exists, days pass before anyone offers to take us to it. Liberal academic smarty-pantses in the South (or at least here) associate barbecue with Republicans, I find, and therefore don’t want any, at worse, or at best consider it a guilty pleasure. To which I say … well, to which I am speechless, actually.

Being a hanger-onner, I hang on, biding my time in respectful silence and tiding myself over (to the amusement of our hostess) with fried chicken wings from the grocery store deli. Next week in North Carolina, I know, I will have my way. My way = pulled pork and sweet tea.

Speaking of sweet, Romea and me are so increasingly insanely in-lovingly besmoldered of each other, I don’t think we can at this point bear to be apart. There are physical symptoms. And it’s so great to be so in love with a writer, but so strange to not be able to read her novels. Not to mention her short stories. One of which I have heard her read now twice, and I’ve read it on paper, and am just now beginning to get an inkling of what happens.

I know I’m going to be fluent in German one day, but …

I mean, I feel certain about Romea. About us. I have never been more sure of anything, but …

Well, her love poems to me she has the decency to write in English, at least, and with all the possible objectivity in the world I can say that they are wonderful, but …

You know, it could take decades. I could be old, and about to die happy, in love and in German, as I imagine, before I can really really read one of her novels, and …

I mean, not that it could possibly matter … not that in fact it isn’t half the fun of it, not knowing, but what if … what if I ultimately only then find out that I find her prose slightly somewhat stilted? Or something. I’m just asking.

This afternoon Romea rocks the Goethe Institute in Atlanta. This morning, against the worst odds ever, we sit side by side on our comfy bed in the cozy attic apartment of KSU’s International House, her practicing today’s reading aloud, in German, me trying to write in English, and about 20 guys in work boots walking with Southern accents on our heads, sliding ladders, scraping shingles, hammering roof nails, staple-gunning … Outside our window, on the lawn, there’s a generator, a table saw, and a 100 percent chance of rain. Thunderstorms, actually. I can’t wait. It’s going to seem so quiet, so calm, ka-boom.

I’ve danced to a lot of things in my day, but can’t quite pick the beat out of this one. Still, I have something to say. It’s just going to be hard to understand me over all this racket. One day in Berkeley, I said ONE DAY IN BERKELEY when Vik Wholesale was closed, I mused with the Maze at India Chaat & Sweets over curry goat. Curry goat! Well, goat curry, technically, is what they call it there. And it’s $12.99. Almost all their stuff is more than $10, which would explain why no one else was eating there.

Oh, but it was so quiet. I could hear the Maze’s musings, and he could hear mine, and neither of us had to raise our voice, as I recall. In fact we kind of whispered.

And the curry goat curry was great. But really, why anyone would want to eat there except in an emergency (i.e. Vik’s is closed) … is far, far beyond me.


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