Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One big fat chicken

First it was on, then it was off. My latest dinner party this time with my son Dan and his bride-elect Nicole. The question we were all asking here in the Philadelphia area last nite was IS IT GOING TO SNOW?

I'm lying in bed last nite. It feels great to sleep at the end of a hard day of doing some really backbreaking procrastination and I wake up in the middle of the nite with the eternal question: Has it snowed? And of course, Is there a God?

The room had an unaccustomed white glow around the edges. Too groggy to get up and look, I thought a moment & decided to place a million dollar bet that it had indeed snowed. Falling back to sleep, I never knew if I was right & of course there's the sticky problem of the possibility that I could die in my sleep & not collect my winnings.

Helene, one of my dearest friends turned 80. She had to call me up to remind me. A friend of hers told her 80 is the new 60. That made her feel good. When I turned 60 a coupla years ago I said to myself, 60 is the new 80. I'm serious. I think about being dead every single day of my life esp. in the middle of the nite.

Oh, I say, pinching myself. Hot dang! I'm still alive. Only HE knows how long we're gonna live. Next morning I get up & put the fire extinguisher outside my bedroom door. My bedroom of course is the family room. The fire extinguisher means, "Come on over & see me, Scottie, when you come home from work."

I've just got to get a weather check. The driving's not bad he says. But walking home from the train, the sidewalks were slippery and slushy. If he'd walked in the street the cars would've splashed him.

Thus informed, I sent my son Dan an email titled Let's cancel dinner tonite. He wrote back and said Good idea, Mom. Stay warm!

All day cars are whizzing up and down the street with no problem. My car out front in the drive is covered over like a wedding cake which then begins melting with nice thunking noises. I call my boy back up & say, C'mon over as planned.

I begin preparing the chicken. It's a big fat oven-roaster. Haven't made one of these since I was a young wife. Looking on the Net, I found an enticing recipe called Lemon Chicken. I opened up the empty cavity of the oven-stuffer & began shoving in everything I could think of: taters, parsley, lemon slices, tangerines, an onion. I pushed and pushed to get it all in.

Immediately I pictured the octuplets from California snug in their mama's womb for seven-some months and that one little octaplut shoved up against "the horn of the uterus" just like my tangerine segment, drawing nutriments from the cord and weighing in at two solid pounds, more than any of his siblings.

Can you imagine holding a baby that tiny in your hands? Mama couldn't hold them for at least a day.

So I cooked that chicken and I cooked some big fat sweet potatoes and I made a delicious salad with a perfect avocado and a fruit salad for dessert and then the phone rang.

I always look on the dial for the name of the person who's interrupting my peace n quiet. Daniel Deming, it said. He gave me the news. I took it on the chin.

What'll I do with my big fat chicken, I asked him.

You'll figger it out, Mom. I begged and pleaded with him but they didn't feel like budging. I looked at all the neighbor houses. No. I couldn't invite anyone over.

I sat down at the table and began to serve myself. I had a thigh and a leg. They were dripping with golden-brown juices. I slit open the sweet potato and mashed it up. I'll tell you I was in heaven right here in my kitchen. That was some chicken I'd made. Its juices were a-flowing.

Then Scott let himself in. Smells delicious, he said, joining me.

I gave him the wings.

How can you eat wings, I said. There's no meat. That's the fun of it, he said, digging out the meat - and oh, that juicy fat!

There's not a bit of salt in this whole thing, I said, and yet it's tasty & delicious. How can that be?

We talked about the NYC health commissioner whose next crusade is to lower the salt content in processed foods, probably, he said, by gradually titrating down the amount without people's noticing it. He was responsible for the anti trans-fat campaign. And people think we don't need regulations. Eaten any Little Debbie Snack Cakes with Peanut Butter lately? Eight people dead. They don't clean their machines and have mold on the ceilings and airways big enough for rodents to come in.

Quick! Change the subject. Oh! A new ritual here in the diminished Deming household. Twice a day I mount my stationery bicycle and ride like the wind. It's actually my real bike but Scott bought a "stand" for it so it stays put right there on the rug. I ride for 10 minutes in the morning staring at the tube and 10 minutes at nite. I like it. I like it.