Roast Chicken

I made a wrong turn somewhere.

Somehow in my life I have managed to know only a couple real sensualists, despite being an enthusiastic one myself. There have been moments in the last four years–many of them, and vivid–of walking into rooms full of people, all of them supposedly having fun, while a single sad mantra runs through my head, almost insane in its insistence: Where are my people? Where are they?

There is something more than joyless about this: you walk into a party, and find no one at home. I mean, there are people. Kind of. There are bodies, and some of them smell, and most of them are too drunk. There’s beer pong. The beer is warm and flat and tasteless and has bits of carpet fiber and crumbs of Cheetos floating in it. The music is loud and misguided. The whole thing is thoughtless–supposedly fun, but designed in no way to induce pleasure. For you, for the sensualist, who loves to drink well and eat well and laugh with good companions, it is worse than walking into an empty house. What you do is, you feel alone.  

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Sweet Corn

I never called corn sweet until I moved to the Midwest.

In California, corn was just corn, something you ate with too much butter. But for four years now I’ve lived among farmers’ sons and for farmers’ sons, there isn’t just corn, but sweet white and sweet yellow and sweet multi—because here in the Midwest there’s also feed and seed and ethanol corn, a lot of it, and no one in his right mind would call that kind of corn sweet, whatever its color.

Seed corn. Feed corn. You say it with a kind of grimace. Cows eat it before we eat them. Yet the vast sweep of unsweet corn fields—bearded, detasselled, green, yellow, harvested, whatever—flat as a crisp new map stretched over a table, straight down to the geometrically flawless line of the Midwest horizon, is stunning.   Continue reading

Something Sweet

I love food. And I can really put it away because I’m always hungry, always feeling underfed.

It’s been more painfully acute these past weeks because I’ve been trying to cut back. The weather is warming up and girls are walking around in tiny little things. Lots of pale skin touching sun for the first time in months. I wonder if it’s too much to ask of them, of us, to put on something so small after so much time under cover. You’re going to wear that?, I ask myself in the mirror, making a catalogue of real and imagined flaws. Short shorts, skirts, sundresses: creases, dimples in my skin. Yes. Yes I am going to wear that. So I start to watch what I eat.

Then the hunger sets in. For the past two weeks I have felt transcendently hungry. I’m not complaining: after a while the hunger starts cycling back to something that feels like fullness again. But then. Then I start to crave things that baffle, things that better-fed versions of myself would never, ever want.   Continue reading