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Entry 8 -- Cooking for Clare

Stasch makes a face because I have come upstairs to make bean salad. I cooked the beans when it was slow in the shop this morning. Now I'm making two containers of salad out of them. One container is for us. The other is for the Jamesons. I don't know if the Jamesons eat bean salad with home made Italian dressing. I guess this is how I learn. I know that with working full time and not being able to take a break to take care of things but instead working in shifts and having to make those long trips to Louisville with a sick mother, Clare Jameson has her hands full. I learned as much Saturday night.

If we are going to be on the same side fighting for this school appropriation we may as well be friends. I set the salads in the fridge. By now Stasch is reading silently. He still has the paper in his mouth. I'm not sure he needs it any more but maybe it just reminds him not to move his lips.

I realize I miss him reading to me. I enjoyed going to get him at school. I won't enjoy the late night in the shop. "What's that?" Stasch asks as I take the container of egg whites out of the fridge.

"Egg white," I answer. "I'm going to make a white layer cake for the Jamesons."

"Not for us?" asks Stasch.

"Not this time. This is a gift."

"Why do they get a gift?"

"Because they work very hard and Clare's mother is really ill, so Clare has to work and help take care of her."

"I hope Clare's mom gets well soon."

I sigh. Clare's mom is not going to get well. "Sometimes when people are very old," I say. "They don't get better."

"You mean she's going to die?"

"We're all going to die," I explain, "but it's going to be sooner rather than later for Clare's mother."

Stasch is going to overhear this anyway, so why not be straight with him. "It's hard to take care of a sick person, so I'm making extra cooked food to take to the Jamesons."

"The Jamesons don't eat bean salad," sing-song's Stasch.

"They'll eat it if I make it," I answer. "Most people are not as picky as you are about food, Stasch."

"I just like normal food, not weird fancy stuff."

"You like what your real mother made?" I ask. Why do I rub salt in the wound like this?

Stasch scratches his head. "Mom used to buy me chicken nuggets," said Stasch dredging up a memory. "And we had spahgettin that came in a can."

"Most people like food like that!" Stasch protests.

"Most people with good taste make better food than that?"

"So did your mom make you veal stew and other weird things when you were a kid?"

"My mom was a great cook," I say. I think I'm a better cook but that is because I'm a sensualist. I like food and sex and bikes, kites, and all good stuff.

"Did she make fish in tomato soup?" asks Stasch.

"Yes, she's the person I learned it from though chowder is easy."

"What about veal?"

"We used to have veal and peppers over rice."

"Waht about cabbage rolls."

"I taught myself how to make them. I had a German friend who showed me the trick wtih the frozen cabbage. I like making stuffed things: stuffed eggplant, stuffed peppers, stuffed zucchini. I think stuffed things look good in the pan, festive and fancy. Who wants plain when you can have fancy."

"Plain tastes better," Stasch protests.

"That's where we'll have to agree to disagree," I tell my stepson.

I begin to whip the eggwhites. I won't be making any deliveries tonight, but Wednesday, a day I get Stasch at school (and I'll ride my bike. Oisin did an excellent job of fixing it and yes the seat is comfortable. I'm reasonably tough.) we'll take the cake which will be cook and iced up to Myrtle Hollow along with a bucket of bean salad. Clare may not even be home. I'm uncertain of what shift she works. I could call ahead and ask when is a good time. I make it a point to have Oisin ask Koli. I don't think Clare will be the type to refuse a neighborly gift of food.

It's a bigger stretch for her daughter to go to Harvard than it is for Oisin to go to MIT. Actually all of this was a stretch, but I have a year and a half of college under my belt. I have one semester at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I did not flunk out. I dropped out. My grades were not great, but I did not flunk out. I just wasn't interested. I could make more money waiting table, and working made more sense to me than going to school. I also enjoyed partying and working in the late afternoons and evenings meant I could stay out after work, sleep most of the day, go to work again and not miss a beat. Going to class would have interfered with my lifestyle in the worst way.

If you are wondering what happened to my wild lifestyle, which I clearly don't live any more, that is the stuff of another story and another entry.

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