ameliorate.

WordBowl Wednesday Reprise: AMELIORATE* WordBowl Readers in NYC may note that both longstanding West Village locations in which this piece was hand-scribbled (with cocktail) and posted (with coffee) no longer exist. 

*make (something bad or unsatisfactory) better

WordBowl Word of the Day “ameliorate” submitted by Kate Taylor — she of analytical mind and artistic heart — possessor of the World’s Greatest Laugh. 
ameliorate

My parents were mistaken, victims of malicious rumor mongering.  They told me I was too young to understand, which I dismissed with a wave of my stubby six-going-on-seven year old hand. Obviously, my grandfather could not be dead, as he was in the midst of building me a dollhouse, and PawPaw was not a quitter.

Magic Hour at Bee's Knees Baking Co.

Magic Hour at Bee’s Knees Baking Co.

Later, in the tight rooms of my father’s childhood home I called “Grandmother Marie’s” because I never saw PawPaw there, even though he must have lived there in between restless high seas adventures and unannounced visits to my family, I stared at a coverlet-covered bed PawPaw presumably shared with my Grandmother, a fact more incomprehensible than death.

I wandered into his workshop, tools lining one wall, gleaming lathe, menacing bandsaw, bench-mounted milling machine, pneumatic nailer, a single bed so low to the ground it was more seaman’s bunk, and a massive Royal competing with the more manly apparatuses for attention. I sidled up to the typewriter, half–hidden by plywood that upon closer inspection were cutouts for a dollhouse with three neat rows of windows, just as I described, when he asked what I imagined for my dream home.

My barstool neighbor's Happy Hour cocktail and snack festivities at Gusto

My barstool neighbor’s Happy Hour cocktail and snack festivities at Gusto

I left the cutouts exactly as he had, I hiked up onto the stool, sat at the typewriter and felt him, close, vivid, as though he was present, working, explaining each step as his hands brought life to wood, metal. I sat at the typewriter and willed him to me. I sat at the typewriter as rain hammered like nails, I sat at the typewriter as the afternoon thunderburst crashed, I sat at the typewriter as the storm softened into afternoon, I sat at the typewriter as I heard the drawling murmurs of those people who had attended the funeral arrived, I sat at the typewriter as sounds of china clinking and ice tinkling signaled the real moment of paying homage to PawPaw was to begin, I sat at the typewriter until my parents returned and drew me away with honeyed bribes of soft shell crab Po’ boys, crawfish hushpuppies, black-bottom pie.

The dollhouse never materialized, my father lacking his father’s skills, the wood disappeared in a pile of scrap hauled away by the people who profit in death. The typewriter — King of Royals — came home with us, living in the narrow storage room abutting the carport, spacebar hanging over the edge of the metal cart with one sticky wheel, it took me and a parent to haul it out, cart creaky across carport concrete, up the steps to the back door of our house.

I took over then, solo, rolling rickety on the harvest gold kitchen linoleum, alternately pushing and dragging over the semi-shag of the den, down the hallway, back to my bedroom where I would sit before my prize, memorizing the keys, hands poised as though I were at piano practice, and I would strike, hard, over and over, sometimes actual words but mostly a single letter made meaningful through repetition.

RoastingPlant

Bean-to-Cup Process at the Roasting Plant (west village)

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “ameliorate” handwritten with a sparkling water at Gusto Ristorante E Bar Americano (west village), a green tea at Bee’s Knees Baking Co. (west village) and a powerful brew at Roasting Plant (west village). Yes, it was a single-village week…

satiate.

Weekend WordBowl/Reprise

The high holidays are upon us, encouraging all manner of indulgences. And over-indulgences. Thus today’s word: SATIATE

Do you want to play WordBowl? Click HERE.

Our WordBowl Word of the Day comes from the twisted brain behind Henry’s Games — storytelling? satire? legend? — all I can confirm is (1) the word came from a UK e.mail address and (2) the author purports to be male. Though this may be a matter for debate as well.

satiate

Earliest food memory: gorging on pineapple, sticky sweet juice slicking down chin, mouth raw, the first conscious twining of pleasure and pain.

My mother, worrying I might hurt myself, attempting to lure my attention with promises of Cocoa Puffs. I was not dissuaded. If one bite proved scrumptious, surely gobbling the whole pineapple — a gift from my father, souvenir from his team’s annual exhibition game in Hawaii — would provide exponential happiness.

ELIZA'S STORY (who knew bourbon could be so refreshing?)

ELIZA’S STORY (a deceptively demure cocktail)

I munched, Mumu-clad — my mother had made us matching Mumus, a riot of red and white florals, the year she jetted off for the Luau Game, too — my own celebration of culinary and sartorial extravagance, those partners in crime.

At almost four years of age, I had not yet learned the law of diminishing returns, the irrefutable scientific facts: sugar-on-sugar becomes less sweet, salt-on-salt less satisfying. Of the tastes, only bitter becomes increasingly, more intensely of itself. Bitterer.

My father retired from baseball, we moved through familial lands in Texas, Louisiana, settled in Mississippi. Food, tightly regulated in our 1970s household — recession, sprawling family, father still hewing to preparatory extreme eating and exercise regimes as though his civilian professional performance depended upon it, mother wrestling her five-pregnancies-and-counting weight gain via the fashionable fasting plan du jour — there was no such thing as snacking between meals, desserts regulated to weekends, although my siblings and I snatched surreptitious chocolates from our mother’s hidden stash, all the more delicious for being forbidden fruit.

THIRSTY RABBIT craft cocktail at Grange

THIRSTY RABBIT craft cocktail at Grange

Our brown-bagged lunches featured Oscar Meyer Variety Pack deli meats, “Red Delicious” apples rarely either. Dinners, a parade of broiled chicken/buttered rice/frozen vegetable permutations or variations of noodles with canned sauces, this less sophisticated era, we ate noodles, we did not yet know from pasta. We did not dine in restaurants, McDonald’s a rare splurge, sign of an unexpected financial windfall, or a brother’s Little League triumph.

My siblings and I dreamed of the packaged food in our friends’ homes, envied their unrestricted access. My burgeoning babysitting business — leveraging my oldest child caretaking skills into actual cash — built upon my fascination with other people’s pantries. Covetous of what I had not experienced, craving tastes of my imagining.

The taste of summer: Thai Cold Brew Coffee

The taste of summer: Thai Cold Brew Coffee

As I verged on adolescence, my parents hit a rough patch, arguments burst from behind their bedroom door, tempers flaring dramatic throughout our home too modest to house hiding places, a spectacular one-upmanship of slammed cabinets, tossed tennis racquets, my mother grabbing car keys and me, gunning the Plymouth all the way to Pizza Hut for multiple trips to the sneeze-guarded salad bar and an array of Personal Pan Pizzas, furious munching before barreling to the Mall, plowing past the seasonal displays towards the clearance racks — even at her most enraged, my mother mindful of her role as keeper of the family finances, her calculator of a brain tick-tick-ticking discount percentages and layaway plans —sorting through those sad stragglers available at greater-than-fifty-percent discount, haughty tossing of the too-big oh-my-goodness-this-just-swallows-me attempting to rationalize the too-small as perfect-j-just-as-soon-as-I-lose-five-pounds. Pizza and salad topping torpor settling in, ambling over to the shoe section — score! — fit not an issue, as our feet remained the same size no matter how much we stuffed ourselves.

Full, but far from satisfied.

 

 Inspired, I set about satiating myself uptown-style at the farm-to-table The Grange Bar and Eatery (hamilton heights, harlem) where I sampled craft cocktails and admired the extensive list of local microbrews while scribbling the first draft of this story. Trundling back downtown, I hand-edited with a Thai Cold Brew Coffee at the light-drenched Greenwich Village outpost of Stumptown Coffee Roasters (greenwich village, manhattan).

Do you have a word for WordBowl? Click HERE.

Do you have a suggestion? Feel free to comment below. I look forward to your input!

thanksgiving.

In honor of today’s celebrations of friends, family, and food, a Thanksgiving WordBowl Story:

 

Cocktail inspiration, close-up

Cocktail inspiration, close-up

While Christmas preparations commenced in earnest while we were still polishing off leftover Turkey sandwiches oozing with cranberry-slathered stuffing, Thanksgiving itself seemed to sneak up upon us. My mother frantic, me at her elbow, eventually side-by-side, kitchen maelstrom fraught with urgency of emergency, as though in the midst of creation rather than recreation of our time-honored meal, my father a stickler for tradition.

Day of, mother up at dawn, tussling with turkey that would be carved before hitting table, our Thanksgivings lacked for show-stopping Kodak moments. Sideboard groaning with French bread dressing, cornbread stuffing courtesy of Pepperidge Farms, sweet potatoes topped with pecans, brown sugar, miniature marshmallows — more Thanksgiving s’mores than vegetable dish — yams mashed tart with orange juice, Uncle Ben’s wild rice, creamed spinach with crisp parmesan crust, green beans swimming in Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom topped with fried onions sprung from a can, cranberry sauce from scratch, giblet gravy congealing in porcelain boat.

Dear Irving Dream Team

Dear Irving Dream Team

My first turn hostessing Thanksgiving thrust upon me senior year by my college buddy SVF — already graduated, nominally employed — who invited himself for the weekend, arrived Thanksgiving Eve, horrified to discover I had yet to shop. After a couple of drinks we hit Dominick’s, out of luck when it came to fresh cranberries — I refused to entertain the canned suggestion of the solitary stock boy sweeping the aisle — but otherwise we were well-stocked to recreate my mother’s annual feast, with the addition of brie slathered in apricot jam and baked in puffed pastry, an unctuous melding of savory and sweet served at a sorority sister’s family holiday party, which I considered the height of sophistication.

We swung by the all-night video store — this the era of film buff video clerks judging VCR rental choices— to stock up on movies, too. Up at crack of dawn to get the turkey trussed, racked. SVF stumbling down for the Inaugural Bloody Mary, cooking interspersed with Hitchcock double-header. Joined by my collegiate BFF and stragglers who called in hopes of something happening, the perpetually-tapped keg on my porch the stuff of campus legend. We ate ourselves beyond silly, settled in for Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, toasted to our adulthood.

Sunrise turkey trussing and Bloodies, good friends, movie marathons, surprise guests. Thanksgiving Template established.

Elsewhere Editing

Elsewhere Editing

Post-college San Francisco, refurbished Victorian, three roommates playing grown-ups, guests marveling at our butler’s pantry. Blood Simple, Hitchcock. Another year, another apartment, sweeping views of the Golden Gate, a vegetarian, a vegan, several avid carnivores and a last-minute guest from Piemonte who argued with me over proper risotto preparation. Someone ended up with a salad plopped atop their head.

What would be the final San Francisco feast, 20 guests, my producing partner and I trading drafts of a grant proposal between kitchen shifts. Familiar mix of artists, engineers, animators. Last minute guest from NASA. Movies, probably something artsy before the now-obligatory Hitchcock.

image

Cocktail inspiration, close-up

New York, New York, Thanksgiving in restaurants, late night movies solo, Netflix queue manipulated in anticipation. Upstate, once San Francisco compatriots migrated east in search of an affordable artful life, my culinary responsibilities reduced to a single dish.

Coupledom, our own traditions. Bloody Mary breakfast, theatre movie matinee, Peking Duck snacks.

Post coupledom, family tradition, albeit that of my best friend from college, the family who long ago introduced me to French dining and — after a Pretty Woman moment — how to properly eat escargot. All of us now tending toward grey. High-rise with a view, exquisitely prepared dishes, discreetly decanted wines. Post-meal, collegiate BFF slumber party, scanning OnDemand for a movie, reminiscing about the original Willie Wonka, debating favorite Hitchcock.

I am thankful for all the bartenders, proprietors and hospitality folks who support WordBowl by providing me spaces to write, and scrumptious inspirational treats to accompany the scribbling. This holiday posting was written at two of my go-to spots: Dear Irving for cocktail inspiration from the Dream Team, and Elsewhere Espresso for fuel to finish. 

continuity.

Spent the week on a series of phone calls with a Louisiana-based children’s media company, which inspired recollections of my own Bayou-based childhood memories. Went thought the WordBowl archives to unearth this one for #ThrowbackThursday:

continuity

“continuity” tossed into the WordBowl lottery by Erik Munera: photographer. storyteller. philosopher. 

Guns, horses, indecipherable cousins thrice removed — visits to my father’s mother’s family farms, lands stretching from Thibodaux to Houma — involved some combination thereof, the family celebrations indistinguishable from the funerals.

Caffeine DoubleDose, DoubleEdit session at Cafe Grumpy

Caffeine DoubleDose, DoubleEdit session at Cafe Grumpy

Great Aunt Ola’s wake, a heavy Louisiana heat that threatened rain without a cloud in sight, an appalled relative I called “aunt” out of courtesy set her mind to rectify a grievous situation: I, a Toups — by blood, if not by name — had never ridden a horse.

Dispatched to a barn, plopped atop a horse — alright, a Shetland Pony — funeral dress tucked around my pudgy still-little-girl thighs, unsteady rocking as Prissy adjusted to and accepted my weight, then the thrill of Prissy trotting towards full gallop, the soft splat of my carefully coiffed curls against my back. Great Aunt Antoinette howling, my mother less amused, concerns over the potential damage to my fancy hand-smocked dress battling with her own Texan childhood astride a horse, inconceivable a daughter of hers had been equine bereft.

Once I was dressed in appropriate borrowed clothes and almost-fitting boots, I was given free reign, a delicious moment of exhilarating liberty.

"Year of the Horse" art by Anna Noelle Rockwell

“Year of the Horse” art by Anna Noelle Rockwell

One other occasion arose to ride, the summer before I became a teenager, when, after much debate, my parents took us for the first (and last) time to the Toups Family Reunion. We drove across the perilously narrow Huey P. Long Bridge, through the waving fields of sugarcane which would one day be replaced by soybeans, past endless rows of orange trees drooping with fruit, gaping at the vast array of picnic blankets and food and people all related to us.

Our actual cousins — my father’s brother’s brood — greeted us on horseback, Cousin Michael dismounting, scooping me up as though I were still small, me clutching the saddle horn, him holding the reigns, and off we galloped, leaving my younger siblings behind.

It was no Great Aunt Ola Memorial Freedom Ride. I missed my Prissy.

Traditional Manhattan, Traditional Steak Tartare at Buvette

Traditional Manhattan, Traditional Steak Tartare at Buvette

On the ground, I was small in the sea of people, crawfish boil pots, sugarcane, badminton games, accents as thick and redolent as the humidity. Relative strangers called us over as we roamed, individually and in packs, announcing themselves, launching into detailed genealogy digressions, declaring their love for my grandmother, Lord Rest Her Soul, and their relation to one of the remaining fourteen Great Aunts, weaving strands of Toups and Marmons into a cohesive if convoluted narrative. My middle brother consistently mistaken for one of Uncle Johnny’s children, with his jet-black hair and dark eyes, he looked more akin to that Louisiana family than ours, a crucial cultural disparity.

We grew lazy and listless, drunk on rich food and other people’s memories, sticky from oranges peeled and eaten like apples, juice slicking down our chins until finally, mosquito-munched and sun-dazed, we piled into the Plymouth, thighs searing to scorched vinyl seats, semi-sleeping as my father drove, silent, my mother chattering to keep him awake until we arrived home, we, the single strand of Toups to reside in the foreign citified environs of Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

“continuity” handwritten at one of my favorite writing-and-imbibing spots, Buvette (a sliver of Paris nestled in the West Village) and edited at the bustling Midtown outpost (oasis?) of Cafe Grumpy. “Year of the Horse” artwork by Anna Noelle Rockwell (more of her equine prints and cards in her Etsy shop here).

moregrumpy

Are you a logophile? Have a favorite word? I want to hear from you!

frond.

Would you like to have a story written for you? Click HERE to play WordBowl.

frond

“Frond” courtesy of Phyllis H. aka Phyllis Ophelia, who’s work is as intriguing as her word choices. Check out her musical stylings here.

 

Local coffee

Local coffee

HomicideMatricidePatricideInfanticide. Pesticide. There must be a word for “plant killer”. She thumbs her so-called smart thing, but this side of the fields, too close to the woods, connection wonky. She pockets phone, picks up gloves, surveys this land — productive, managed abutting wild, untamable — in her care. She said “owned” at first, she and her partner title-flushed, giddy, casting for some combination of their names with which to christen their farm, before discovering one cannot possess a wild thing, contracts between living entities as permeable as paper, intellectual plans at the mercy of indiscriminant, benevolent, violent Mother Nature. And the forces of evil, man-made.

Her mother: ritualistic plant murderer. Every year, as spring slumped into sodden summer, The Great Fern Massacre, carcasses listing in moldy macramé baskets. Successful in all matters unrelated to homemaking, her mother adhered to a tradition of seasonal shifts: pumpkin and gourd piles on the front entrance signaled fall, holly garlands and potted poinsettias at Christmas, ferns hanging on the back patio in the warm weather months. A checklist, checked. Picture-perfect installations, untended, switched out on schedule, dead or alive.

Local view (inside looking out)

Local view (inside looking out)

MeeMaw taught her the rudimentary language of plants, planting. Summers, shipped off to grandparents the moment school let out, shedding plaid uniform for stained overalls, the picturesque costal city for the flat plains of the family farm her mother refused to return to, set foot on. Summer, after all, hospitality high season, and a single mother’s primary responsibility, as sole provider, shoulder all burdens financial.

Which her mother did. Provide. They lacked for nothing purchasable at retail.

She slid into those overalls as though sliding into her real life, romping though fields, unfettered. She can still summon the thrill, first time driving a tractor, the power of piloting that rumbling monster, earth churning in their wake. The greedy satisfaction of sweet tea after a row well-hoed.

Summer in the City

Summer in the City

The logic of plant/water/feed/weed/watch/prune/harvest made more sense than, say, the abstraction of Algebra. The laws of nature immutable, unlike the laws of man, unlike the manipulable mutable laws of the legal system. Her mother has not forgiven her for ditching law school. Or for other things. Or everything. Hard to parse, the silent disappointments.

Her mother has not once visited, has not seen this land she has burrowed into. This land she is fighting for, defending against a ruthless monolith, “pests” not the only victim of their murderous machinations. Her law education useful at last.

French 75 at Le Jardins

French 75 at Le Jardins

High season, impossible to get away. Her mother surely has sycophants, assistants, girls who wear appropriate dresses, match their handbags to their shoes, allow her mother to match them with young men who dress the part of “appropriate gentleman caller”. Mother’s needs will be attended to, and once the summer farmers’ market gauntlet winds down, the CSA delivery schedule abates, the next motion filed, then she will see about responding to her mother’s summons.

She is the sole proprietor now, responsible for the health of the growing things, the seasonal workers, the year-round stalwarts who save her ass, the financials, the legal battles to sustain the right to grow sustenance by nurturing the soil from which all life springs.

Proprietor, servant, champion. Daughter of this land.

Washington Square Park

Summer in bloom

“frond” began with a word, and a visit to the new incarnation of Soho stalwart Le Jardins, now blooming on Avenue C (east village, nyc). The scribbling continued over two days (Day 1: Americano, Day 2: Almond Latte) at  Local (soho, nyc), who, true to their name, is serving their own blend of organic/fair trade/shade grown roasted beans, alongside a variety of responsibly-sourced edibles out of their silver of a space — a true neighborhood gem. 

There was quite a bit of city-wandering in-between.

Do you have a word for WordBowl? Let’s play! Fill in the form below or drop me a word at wordbowl@gmail.com

satiate.

Do you want to play WordBowl? Click HERE.

Our WordBowl Word of the Day comes from the twisted brain behind Henry’s Games — storytelling? satire? legend? — all I can confirm is (1) the word came from a UK e.mail address and (2) the author purports to be male. Though this may be a matter for debate as well.

satiate

Earliest food memory: gorging on pineapple, sticky sweet juice slicking down chin, mouth raw, the first conscious twining of pleasure and pain.

My mother, worrying I might hurt myself, attempting to lure my attention with promises of Cocoa Puffs. I was not dissuaded. If one bite proved scrumptious, surely gobbling the whole pineapple — a gift from my father, souvenir from his team’s annual exhibition game in Hawaii — would provide exponential happiness.

ELIZA'S STORY (who knew bourbon could be so refreshing?)

ELIZA’S STORY (a deceptively demure cocktail)

I munched, Mumu-clad — my mother had made us matching Mumus, a riot of red and white florals, the year she jetted off for the Luau Game, too — my own celebration of culinary and sartorial extravagance, those partners in crime.

At almost four years of age, I had not yet learned the law of diminishing returns, the irrefutable scientific facts: sugar-on-sugar becomes less sweet, salt-on-salt less satisfying. Of the tastes, only bitter becomes increasingly, more intensely of itself. Bitterer.

My father retired from baseball, we moved through familial lands in Texas, Louisiana, settled in Mississippi. Food, tightly regulated in our 1970s household — recession, sprawling family, father still hewing to preparatory extreme eating and exercise regimes as though his civilian professional performance depended upon it, mother wrestling her five-pregnancies-and-counting weight gain via the fashionable fasting plan du jour — there was no such thing as snacking between meals, desserts regulated to weekends, although my siblings and I snatched surreptitious chocolates from our mother’s hidden stash, all the more delicious for being forbidden fruit.

THIRSTY RABBIT craft cocktail at Grange

THIRSTY RABBIT craft cocktail at Grange

Our brown-bagged lunches featured Oscar Meyer Variety Pack deli meats, “Red Delicious” apples rarely either. Dinners, a parade of broiled chicken/buttered rice/frozen vegetable permutations or variations of noodles with canned sauces, this less sophisticated era, we ate noodles, we did not yet know from pasta. We did not dine in restaurants, McDonald’s a rare splurge, sign of an unexpected financial windfall, or a brother’s Little League triumph.

My siblings and I dreamed of the packaged food in our friends’ homes, envied their unrestricted access. My burgeoning babysitting business — leveraging my oldest child caretaking skills into actual cash — built upon my fascination with other people’s pantries. Covetous of what I had not experienced, craving tastes of my imagining.

The taste of summer: Thai Cold Brew Coffee

The taste of summer: Thai Cold Brew Coffee

As I verged on adolescence, my parents hit a rough patch, arguments burst from behind their bedroom door, tempers flaring dramatic throughout our home too modest to house hiding places, a spectacular one-upmanship of slammed cabinets, tossed tennis racquets, my mother grabbing car keys and me, gunning the Plymouth all the way to Pizza Hut for multiple trips to the sneeze-guarded salad bar and an array of Personal Pan Pizzas, furious munching before barreling to the Mall, plowing past the seasonal displays towards the clearance racks — even at her most enraged, my mother mindful of her role as keeper of the family finances, her calculator of a brain tick-tick-ticking discount percentages and layaway plans —sorting through those sad stragglers available at greater-than-fifty-percent discount, haughty tossing of the too-big oh-my-goodness-this-just-swallows-me attempting to rationalize the too-small as perfect-j-just-as-soon-as-I-lose-five-pounds. Pizza and salad topping torpor settling in, ambling over to the shoe section — score! — fit not an issue, as our feet remained the same size no matter how much we stuffed ourselves.

Full, but far from satisfied.

 

 Inspired, I set about satiating myself uptown-style at the farm-to-table The Grange Bar and Eatery (hamilton heights, harlem) where I sampled craft cocktails and admired the extensive list of local microbrews while scribbling the first draft of this story. Trundling back downtown, I hand-edited with a Thai Cold Brew Coffee at the light-drenched Greenwich Village outpost of Stumptown Coffee Roasters (greenwich village, manhattan).

Do you have a word for WordBowl? Click HERE.

Do you have a suggestion? Feel free to comment below. I look forward to your input!

absquatulate.

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Coined in the 1830’s — a period of great vigor and U.S. territory expansion (Westward, Ho!) that gave birth to an era of fanciful wordplay — “absquatulate” means “to flee abruptly; abscond”

Word Credit to Dave Levy:  Brass Master. Traveling Troubadour. Genre Buster. Check out his Bombrasstico sound stylings here.

tinybite&bev

house-made Huertas Vermut, on tap at Huertas

—  jam somePS2, order pizza, just chill —

but, impromptu studio kegger, as a freelancer angling to retain go-to status not to mention the looming Darla-departure rent issue, he had to seize the schmooze opportunity, a couple-three drinks before the call came — actual call, unknown number, answered on reflex —

now, jonesing for a smoke, ass telltale tingly against unforgiving chair, hospital a reminder of his uninsured status, vigil for the DreamGirl scored while riding the wave of his breakup with the one he followed to this city as her Big Break morphed into Big Important Career, as opposed to his, fine, whatever, yes, he makes cartoons, VHX, but clients pay big bucks for what he does, even if few dollars trickle into his actual pocket now, prospects are stellar, the studios provide a steady drip of caffeine, Cliff Bars, beer and even Darla bragged about his television spots, back when everyone watched television, and his career does not require “investment pieces” — a friggin’ handbag should not cost more than a laptop, an observation that did not go over well in the Serious Talk About Our Future —

Cafe Americano at Hotel Americano

Cafe Americano at Hotel Americano

hell, he conquers the latest software, another digital tool crops up, becomes new-new standard, so how can anyone plan for The Future when some kid somewhere is inventing it, but Darla wanted, wants, an Invested Partner —a fantasy, simultaneous shared feelings, the emotional equivalent of mutual orgasm —

so, jabs, tears, Ultimate Ultimatum(s), still, her departure a shock, bomb-shelled apartment, remaining naked Ikea furniture echoing like accusations, and in the midst of the maelstrom, flirtation with DreamGirl, first eyed without much hope during the fractured months between the breaking and the breakup, his pickup so smooth — except for the tussle over condoms, years since those were part of the equation and crap wasn’t that weird, the feel —

then, one night burned into a week, melted into more, new body to explore, his jokes landing in her laughter, punch lines delivered to adoring eyes, and while he is savvy enough to refrain from status update boasts, Darla intuits, launching text bombs that escalate into screeching late night calls, SHE LEFT HIM, but the responsibility does not end, the debate rages on, mea culpas ad infinitum, and now this, in-flesh fantasy requiring real-world attention — minor accident, emergency room, overnight observation —

Delectable nibble at Huertas

sea-inspired pinxto at Huertas

now, mottled face he does not recognize, he avoids her eyes, eyes shaded with need, softened by opiates, he pats her knee, hopes it is a safe spot, he can detail every physical inch of her yet this body is alien, exposed flesh like bruised fruit, she shudders, he starts, disoriented, he equates this movement with her delirious desire for him, his throat constricts — just has to stay until the roommate arrives —

relief, roommate, clucking, cooing, accepting departure excuses, weeping ice packs, instructions, a better caretaker than he will ever be, he pushes a wayward tendril behind DreamGirl’s ear, pauses at a fresh, gaudy mark on her collarbone, a hickey, or a scrape, kisses below the bruise on her cheek — GoodGuy duty fulfilled —

YES, bounds down steps, high-fives a streetlamp, sparks a smoke, inhales — air brisk,stars bright, phone silenced —

he is free.

huertasbite

Under the influence of the definition of “absquatulate”, I scribbled this story while indulging in Basque tapas — ideal dining for folks on the fly — at East Village hotspot  Huertas (I recommend the house-made Vermouth on tap, paired with any bite featuring Boquerones or Morcilla) and hand-edited while sipping a Cafe Americano at  Hotel Americano in the Chelsea Gallery District. 

Do you have a comment or an idea to share? Click “comment” link at top of story (if you are on a laptop) or scroll down (if you’re mobile).

Do you have a word for WordBowl? Click here. I look forward to writing a story inspired by your word!