Archive for May, 2015

May 14, 2015

christina malman

My father prepared the best bath snacks. Simple, but efficient.
As I’d run my bath steamy and unclothe, he’d leave a little tray by the bathroom door with a saucer of boiled garbanzos with salt, or a banana flower, or a piece of microwaved tandoori naan leftover from a takeout dinner past. I timed it perfectly so by the time I heard the pat-pat on the door I was fully naked and the bathtub was fully full.

My favorite bath snack used to be a bowl of frozen peas, served in a little Chinese bowl with flaming dragons and flying stars. I’d sink into the bath and keep the bowl above water, making sure it didn’t get splash water or soap water inside. One pea at a time, my pruned fingers would pick out the frozen little sapphires and let them melt in my mouth. Sometimes there were chunks of peas stuck together, like little dirt clots. Those were the best. By the time I got to the bottom of the bowl the last dozen would be soft, steamed. When I had eaten them all, I’d scoop bowlfuls of water and drop them on my head like a baptism.

Sinking into the bath, I’d plot my revenge on girls I didn’t like. Each pea was like a little enemy I could eat away. Big-chested Jess M. for having a big chest, Tara Rae for the glitter she wore on her eyelids, Nora Dyce because one time at a sleep over, after painting our nails, she told me to smell the nail polish remover and when I said I didn’t want to she held me down and shot it all up my nose like stinging electric eels taking hold of my nostrils and she laughed and laughed with the other girls and for weeks after things tasted wrong. I thought then: this is how dogs must feel when they get chloroformed and kidnapped, sold for dogfights or dog meat.

susette schultz keast (susette schultz keast)

Sometimes, if I wasn’t hungry, I’d drop the peas in the bathtub with me. I’d submerge myself almost all the way under water, leaving only my eyes and nose above, like a gator, and watch them float with the bubbles at eye level. When I did that, I’d call it split pea soup, in my head. Split pea soup nights only happened when I was feeling very peaceful, when there was nothing to be mad about and I could just pretend to be an underwater creature, sleek, invincible, cool as a cucumber.

I stopped having bath snacks once my father stopped preparing them for me. And I stopped having baths altogether once I grew pubic hair and fantasized about boys in classes; showering suddenly became more practical and trendy.
Reading the police blotter yesterday I came across Nora Dyce’s name. She had gotten a DUI. When the officer had asked where she was coming from she responded with, “I don’t know and it doesn’t matter,” and when he further inquired if she was inebriated the “sassy gal” said, “What the fuck do you care?”
I ran the bath immediately upon receiving the news that my nemesis was finally jailed and under custody. I made sure the water was piping hot as I poured in all the contents of my freezer: a bags of frozen peas, of frozen corn, frozen broccoli and carrot medallions. By the time I unclothed they were soft to the touch, ready to eat.


May 8, 2015

i don’t understand what they’re saying but i understand what i’m seeing

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Girl in a Green Blouse


My grandmother used to bellow this from the kitchen, shrill like a lapwing. I would be deep in the grey armchair, flipping through her wig catalogue, covered by a Target catalogue. She transported her 60s British way of cooking and looking and dining to palm-treed California: all vegetables were to be boiled, same goes for shrimp and scallops, meat dishes were slathered with sweet sauces, and the plates, warmed in the oven before the meal, to keep everything on the plate piping hot. Napkins were serviettes and the tablecloth was blue and thick and wooly, itchy under my wrists. The dish I most looked forward to in grandma’s dinner was the dessert. She made raisiny fruitcake and it was often served to me nestled in vanilla ice cream and frozen berries. When I grew older, I prided myself in eating the fruitcake unadorned, adult-like.

       La plaine de Bormes (1907-08) - Henri Edmond Cross   
(henri edmond cross)

She doesn’t make dinners anymore. She says she doesn’t miss it. She doesn’t say much at all. But when I do mention fruit cake, or raisins, a glint of recognition twitches in her grey eyes, like the first smell of British summer, willow trees and elderflower passing by, not far. Her smile is wide.