Love

goldfish.jpgIt's no secret that some of us urban dwellers face commitment issues. Embrace them, even. The greener grasses and more infinite infinity pools are a form of optimism. Some of us arrested developers avoid opportunities (read: obligations) by holding out for the perfect job, the perfect relationship. But perhaps getting stuck between a responsibility rock and a commitment place isn’t so bad.

In my case, that place showed up at midnight in West Hollywood on my birthday. Now I'm the kind of girl who can't keep a pet rock alive and can barely assemble a PB & banana sandwich. So in acknowledgment of another year of supposed maturity, I’m imbibing elderflower champagne at the Palihouse. I mean I’m really not expecting any sort of responsibility. And suddenly, there it is. A responsibility-filled, Ziploc bag containing a tiny goldfish (translation: my birthday present). The carnival winning of two friends back from the San Gennaro Italian Festival.

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ncporklogo.jpg This summer marks my thirtieth year as an attorney. But when I think back to the summer of 1978 it is not a courtroom that I see; rather I recall a brilliant sunny July day barbecuing at the base of the Seattle Space Needle on a Weber grill. About  twenty of us from the country’s largest pork producing states  were vying for first place in National Pork Cook-Out Contest. Truth be told though the southern states, principally North Carolina, Texas and  Tennessee are known for barbecue the big boys of pork are Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska and  Kansas. They were the guys to beat.

For me the event was the culmination of a 2-year grilling odyssey that began in 1976 when I entered the North Carolina State Pork Cooking Championship and came away with a respectable but disappointing third place for Orange Flavored Pork. Despite the loss (and despite my New York Jewish heritage), I knew I had it in me to bring home the bacon so to speak.  Though I had always loved pork – mostly in the form of ribs slathered in ‘duck sauce’ from the local Chinese take out joint – I really never really embraced the true pig in me until I had come to Chapel Hill, North Carolina two years earlier to attend law school.

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fish.jpgBettie One sang like a bird and dressed like a pirate and sent my libido into overdrive. She was an intoxicating beauty with a multitude of talent. But she didn’t have a talent for food presentation.

One dinner in particular stands out. Maybe “stands out” is the wrong way to put it. “Haunts me” is more like it. 

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crunch.jpg Candy has been a bond between me and my pal Joy since we first became best friends in sixth grade at Beverly Vista Elementary School in Beverly Hills, California.   Sure, there’s been humor, loyalty, shared heart-throbs, and tears…but from the get-go, there were shared Nestle Crunch candy bars filled with crinkly chocolate that we bought every day as we walked home from school together.  It became a ritual, peeling off the blue and white wrapper, then the foil, and eating the crunchy bar while hysterically laughing over some inside joke that was funny only to ourselves.  But it was better that way.

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oven-fire-645.jpgTo be perfectly honest, the only food recipe I have is one for disaster. My husband and I found that out the hard way. We hadn’t been married very long, and I wanted to make a delicious home-cooked meal of steak and potatoes. I put the steak under the broiler, waited a reasonable amount of time and then opened my oven door to 12-inch flames. I screamed, what else could I do, but my husband simply strolled over to the fire and blew it out. In his sweet way he told me it would be fine, we could eat the potatoes. He also said, don’t worry about cooking anymore, we could eat out.

So over time our recipes for dinner came from the restaurants. When we dine out, we relax into our table and, as everyone knows to do, we look to mind our own business. But sometimes the tables are very close together, and being that my husband and I are both therapists, listening to what people have to say is what we do. In fact, our business really is minding other people’s business, so inevitably we may find ourselves paying attention as it becomes clear that the conversation at the next table is about to go up in flames, just like my steak. The other night we were at one of our favorite Italian restaurants. As soon as the waiter took our order we could hear it starting just a few feet away. The woman began.

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