Yesterday evening, for reasons that still escape me, I was seized with the urgent desire to make rice pudding. But not just any rice pudding... baked rice pudding with apricots and golden raisins and cardamom from my new cookbook.
It sounded grand. It sounded easy. It sounded quick.
I was excited. I was inspired. I was deluded.
An hour and a half later, surrounded by heaps of dirty pots and pans, a bandage wound round the index finger I inadvertantly sliced whilst chopping apricots, and exhausted from hunting for the individual custard cups I was sure I had.... the pudding was nowhere near complete.
Jack appeared at my elbow, looking round in dismay. He is a Virgo and as such, cannot tolerate mess of any kind, particularly the messes I make. When he cooks, he measures everything precisely, puts away all ingredients immediately after use and scours everything operating room sterile before, after and during the process.
He is neat. he is tidy. He is annoying.
I'm Sagittarian. I'm neither neat nor tidy nor efficent. I am totally incapable of cooking anything more complicated than a bag of microwave popcorn without creating a disaster area worthy of a Haz Mat team, three or four government relief organizations and police tape.
Jack knows this and is always on hand with a sponge and a grimace, prepared to come to my aid at any minute, whether I believe myself to be in need of rescue or not.
"No! Don't touch that!" I shrieked as he hovered ever close, prepared to dismantle my ever growing heap of utensils. "O honey, leave that. I need it. And that. I need that too. I think. can you just go away please? Honey, no..."
"What exactly are you doing?" Jack asked looking vaguely bemused. Or alarmed. It was hard to tell.
"I'm making rice pudding. With apricots. and cardamom. and golden raisins."
"You've been in here for hours now. Are you almost done?"
"No... It still has to cook for fifty minutes...wait, don't put that away! I need it!"
"What's the kettle for?"
"I need boiling water. I need it."
"For what? Are you about to deliver a baby? Should I be tearing bed sheets?"
"No, I need to make a bath of boiling water to place the pudding in... here, hand me that casserole dish this one isn't big enough..."
"What? a boiling pudding bath? Are you sure you know what you're doing...?"
"Yes, yes, hand me that please. no, not that one...that one over there."
"Which one? There's nineteen casserole dishes here."
"That one. That one there. The monster one. O honey, can you go away now please?"
"Isn't there a mix or something you can buy for this?" Jack asked, pointedly ignoring my "go away now" requests.
"Yes, I'm sure. But this is going to be special. Really. It has apricots and cardamom. Look, I'll be finished in a minute and then you can clean up the mess if you want."
"Well, what do you have to do? Let me help."
"I have to add the milk and stir this together and crack all those eggs, but I just need the egg whites and I don't know, do you think these eggs are okay? The expiration date was yesterday? and I need more room for my boiling bath and I don't think the oven's hot enough and oh, yes it is, okay... I'll just put this in there..."
"Good God. And then what? Do you have to put it in a knapsack and hump it around the block three times and then bury it next to a mountain stream for three days while shaking chicken legs over it too?"
There was silence. Tension filled, bone snapping. And then the sound of a wooden spoon careening off the refridgerator.
And Jack left the kitchen.
Me: would you rather be cute or sexy?
Me: Well, that was fast. You sound very sure of that. Why would you rather be cute?
Jack: Because sexy is too much work. You have to dress well and smoulder and stuff. Cute is easier. And requires less investment in the wardrobe department.
Or alternately, failed congressmen: Stewart Kirby, Bettie Goldman, Teddy Basset.
Or tabloid news anchors: Geraldo Walton
But I really don't know what to make of Hung Randolph.