"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

28 October 2010

Man of Confusion

I made the hop down to the library to return Cry of the Kalahari and see if perhaps there were any other tomes available by the same authors, despite the other books I've committed myself to reading. There was also the auspice of perhaps renting a film or two to watch on the 'puter, and maybe something interesting at the book sale, held daily in the library's basement. Only the film aspect came to fruition. Flights of fancy for when my daughter comes for her next visit.

One of the librarians, who is also a neighbor, has traveled to Africa. She's told me stories. Several, for I do get curious, and I'm sucker for a good story. Even the occasional bad one. One of those tales involves the fact her daughter considers Ethiopian cuisine her comfort food since they were living in that nation-state during the majority of her childhood. Once, I bought both the librarian and her daughter small bags of berbere, in exchange for some Ethiopian recipes I didn't have. A few months later, I gave the librarian some of my first batch of homemade berbere.

She had borrowed my big spiral notebook of recipes I have acquired over the years. It had been in her possession over the summer. Were it not for the many other fine cookbooks I have, this might have bordered upon travesty. But, in all fairness, Sabina has been holding one of her books hostage since late spring. Thus, it could be argued, the balance of the universe has been maintained.

The librarian was very excited to see me returning the book and checking out films. She had my notebook with her and was oh so eager to return it. To the woman she was helping as I walked in the door, she gushed about all the wonderful and otherwise amazing recipes I had collected from all over the world.

"So, you're a cook?" The woman inquired.

"I sometimes dabble in the kitchen," I said. She was the third biped over the course of the day I had said that to, and I still haven't decided if that's strange.

"It sounds like you do some exotic stuff," she said.

"Only when I do American," I shrugged. Which is true. In my peculiar perceptions, American is when I was doing something ethnic. Otherwise, I pretty well stick good old down-home country cooking. Of course, the country in question could be Morocco or Spain or Cambodia or Brazil.

There was a nervous chuckle and a confused look. I set down the book I was returning and mentioned something about being back around for the notebook. Having just been thrust into a conversation with a stranger, I hoped by then she'd have checked out her acquisitions and finished her banter with the librarian. When I returned with my films, she made some remark along the lines of happy cooking, although the perplexed look remained as she walked out the door.

The confused looks and nervous chuckles are something I've just come to accept. Whether speaking in jest or seriousness, it seems to happen. Lately, with a little more frequency. I blame that on the gig.

"I really shouldn't, what with my diet," I told my benefactor when she was offering candy to the strawboss and I the other day. He was speaking to me in a language of power tools and mechanics, hoping I'd eventually gain a working vocabulary. She shook her head and, with a slight smile, walked on to deliver her offerings elsewhere.

"Diet?" The strawboss scoffed. "How much do you weigh?"

"I fluctuate between one-nineteen and one-fifty-five," I said.

"And you think you need to diet? Riiiiiiiiiiight..."

The strawboss walked off. I was sort of gobsmacked by his reaction. So much so I never got a chance to tell him that gullible was no longer in English dictionaries or the words of wisdom from P. T. Barnum.

There is a reason I don't talk much to strangers. Well, aside from old wives tales warnings, being more than a little shy, and there being conjecture as to whether they come much stranger than I. Were I to want to wax poetically arrogant, I could say my tongue is that of ambrosia and acid. The more honest, and humble, assessment is my words, no matter how trivial or profound, seem to trigger migraines at worst, or, at the very least, a moment of kangaroo? from the one unlucky enough to be caught in the oral shrapnel.

I've tried to explain this briefly before. A warning, but it was not heeded. Of course, at the time, I was in Red Hot Chili Peppers drag of wearing but one sock, and not on my foot. As well as smirk, perhaps a little impish in its nature. In the temple.

Really now, would I lie about something like that?

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