I was supposed to have spent my twenties (a) hammering away for ninety hours
a week at some high-paying, ethically dubious job, drinking heavily, and having
explosive sex with a rich array of twenty-something men; (b) awaking at noon
every day in my Williamsburg loft to work on my painting/poetry/knitting/
performance art, easily shaking off the effects of stylish drugs and tragically
hip clubs and explosive sex with a rich array of twenty-something men (and women
if I could manage it); or (c) pursuing higher education, sweating bullets over
an obscure dissertation and punctuating my intellectual throes with some pot and
explosive sex with a rich array of professors and undergrads. These were the
models, for someone like me.
But I did none of these things. Instead, I got married. I didn't mean to,
exactly. It just kind of happened.
Eric and I were high school sweethearts. Wait, it gets worse. We were in a
high school play together. Our courtship was straight out of one of the ickier
films from the John Hughes oeuvre, Some Kind of Wonderful, maybe - all
kinds of misunderstandings and jealous boyfriends and angst-ridden stage kisses.
In other words, the sort of too-typical high school romance that people of our
generation are meant to get over and cover up later on. But we didn't. Somehow
we never got around to the breaking-up part. At the age of twenty-four, when we
were still sleeping together and reasonably satisfied with the whole
toilet-seat-and-toothpaste-cap situation, we went ahead and got married.
Please understand - I love my husband like a pig loves shit. Maybe even more.
But in the circles I run in, being married for more than five years before
reaching the age of thirty ranks real high on the list of most socially damaging
traits, right below watching NASCAR and listening to Shania Twain. I'm used to
getting questions like "Is he the only person you've ever had sex
with?" or, even more insultingly, "Are you the only person he's ever
had sex with?"
All this to say that sometimes I get a little defensive. Even with Isabel,
who I've known since kindergarten, and Sally, my freshman year roommate, and
Gwen, who comes over to eat at our apartment every weekend and adores Eric. I
would confess to none of them the thing I sometimes think, which is: "Eric
can be a little pushy." I couldn't hack the hastily smothered expressions
of dismay and smug I-told-you-so eyebrows; I know my friends would imagine
something between the The Stepford Wives and a domestic abuse PSA
narrated by J-Lo. But I mean neither shoving matches nor domineering at dinner
parties. I just mean that he pushes. He can't be satisfied with telling me I'm
the most gorgeous and talented woman on the planet and that he would die without
me, while mixing me a dry Stoli gimlet. No, he has to encourage. He has to make
suggestions. It can be most annoying.
So I made this soup, this Potage Parmentier, from a recipe in a
forty-year-old cookbook I'd stolen from my mother the previous spring. And it
was good - inexplicably good. We ate it sitting on the couch, bowls perched on
knees, the silence broken only by the occasional snort of laughter as we watched
a pert blonde high school student dust vampires on the television. In almost no
time we were slurping the dregs of our third servings. (It turns out that one
reason we're so good together is that each of us eats more and faster than
anyone either of us has ever met; also, we both recognize the genius of Buffy
the Vampire Slayer.) Earlier that evening, after the gynecologist
appointment, when I was standing in the Korean deli staring at produce, I'd been
thinking, "I'm twenty-nine, I'm never going to have kids or a real job, my
husband will leave me and I'll die alone in an outer-borough hovel with twenty
cats and it'll take two weeks for the stench to reach the hall." But now,
three bowls of potato soup later, I was, to my relief, thinking of nothing much
at all. I lay on my back on the couch, quietly digesting. Julia Child's soup had
made me vulnerable.
Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...