Friday, November 2, 2012

Molasses In Vancouver


“Happy Anniversary, darling.”

Clem chinked my glass like his eyelashes on the day we first met, azure orbs glistening beneath the feathery wisps of angels, but he spilt his drink on the tablecloth.

“No worries, honey,” I said.  Christ, I wish I hadn’t put on this goddamn bra.  Cutting me, cutting me right below one of my ribs (though which one, I don’t know — how in hell do you count ribs with a ball gown on?)

“That’s the great thing about these fancy places,” said Clem, his hands manipulating a napkin manlyly.  “No shortage of decent sized cloths — and hey, look, there’s Michael J. Fox!”

We glanced over to the window seat where the once boyish star of the Back To The Future movies sat with a blonde Latino girl and what looked to be some kind of German sausage in a brown sauce.

“It’s an omen, don’t you think?”  I hitched my fish knife under my gown and tugged till my bra strap split.

“How so?”  Clem looked oddly pensive — a Buzz Aldrin meets a dragon in a lunar crater expression usually reserved for when he can’t open a jar of gherkins.

“I’m thinking past, present and future.  Here we are on our wedding anniversary, celebrating the past — yet at the same time we’re celebrating the present with all this champagne and seafood, and looking to the future too.”

“Hey, that’s quite profound.  You should have been an astrologer or a philosopher or a sage or a shaman or a poet.”

I laughed.  “Hell, I’m no multitasker.”  How true: holding a conversation while slipping off a bra was proving impossible.

The waiter appeared to take our order.  No illusion: that’s what he actually did.  A quirky guy, he reminded me of no one I’d ever met, which is weird because I have this cerebral malfunction thing going on where I perceive most people to be Japanese.

“I’ll check out the molasses,” said Clem.

I ran my finger over the list of braised succulents.  “These cacti sound fascinating — but it’s the molasses for me also, please.”

Every anniversary, every thanksgiving, every Christmas — always molasses.  Birthdays, Sundays, week nights, breakfasts too!  God, we’re so crazy about the stuff!  It’s what we ate the day we first met.  On a bench in Central Park, with pigeons flying and snowflakes falling and some hippy with a snake guitar and a hobo lying by a wall, probably sleeping but we never checked because he might have attacked us or been dead.  A tingle of romance shot through me and I nearly let out a fart.

I gazed into Clem’s eyes, thinking of our love.  How they darted and sparkled and shone and dilated and, hell, just eyed on down. “Looks like Fox has finished his sausage,” he said.

The waiter returned.  “Your molasses.”

Clem cupped the bowl beneath his chin and began spooning the glistening mixture onto his eager tongue, flapping about wildly between his lips, plus the background music changed from In Utero to something soft and classical with lots of flutes.  I mirrored Clem, though in truth there was nothing between us, not even a sheet of glass, let alone anything reflective.

“So glad we did this,” I said.

Clem nodded.  “Thank heaven the Hulk Hogan mystery weekend was cancelled.”  He edged his spoon close to my molassesy lips.  “Nope.  Thought I saw a wasp but it’s only the mole on your nose.”

I love Clem, truly I do.  And this whole molasses thing makes it even truer.  We try a different city every year but there’s something so special about Vancouver in spite of this bra and I might even leave it for the waiter as a cheeky kind of tip, if only to acknowledge that he’s the first person in over forty five years who hasn’t looked like he was born on Kyoto — apart from Michael J. Fox, who’s gone now (and the blonde is crying).

I felt a warm softness caress my hand: it was Clem’s hand, the left one, not a snake or anything.  “Honey, I have something to tell you,” he said, and now Buzz Aldrin was in a deep, deep canyon with a bunch of ninja terrorists and only 5% Oxygen.

“What?  What is it?”  I stared at my empty bowl.  Were my finished molasses a metaphor for some impending loss, some chasm about to open between us?

Clem rubbed the side of his head.  “My ear hurts.”  The left one looked swollen, almost blistery, and if he’d trimmed his beard into a Hogan for the weekend I’d have spotted it the moment we  left the hotel, possibly even Friday.  “It’s been sore for a couple of days now but I don’t think it’s anything serious.”


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