Breaking a fast of a night full of dreams In a well-conceived ripping of old-notion seams Haunts a bachelor’s kitchen with ethery steams And wreaks chop-happy havoc on thought-laden streams. In other words, when I woke up after dreaming about friendship and loyalty, with the (not original with me, I’m sure, but there it was, echoing away) phrase “some friendships never die until both friends have died” looping in my head, I lurched into the kitchen, found some items that would suit, and prepared a meal while looking with a strange lens at what I was doing.
Recently I read T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” I don’t pretend to fully understand it. There are helpful footnotes and biographical material in the edition I own (Penguin Classic, The Waste Land and other Poems, edited and with an introduction and notes by Frank Kermode, purchased at the amazing The Book House in St. Louis, Missouri, Eliot’s home town) but the sense of Eliot’s focus choices still eludes me. I see and touch the parts of his poetic elephant without getting a good, wide-angled, aerial-photography look at the elephant itself. Time, research and thought will take care of that, I trust. Meanwhile I’m in the kitchen, a bit sleep-befuddled, under a slight Eliot influence. As I start chopping the potato I think of how much better it would be to say “There’s more than one way to chop a potato” than “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Those poor cats!!! (In St. Louis I spent several days in the company of my cartoonist/poet friend Russ Kazmierczak and his significant other, the cat-adoring Missy Pruitt. I like cats myself, but Missy has devoted a portion of her life-energy to the welfare of cats on a scale beyond most of us.) (If T. S. Eliot had never existed, the play Cats would never have existed either, and Paul Newman would never have gotten up in his seat in the audience of “The Late Show with Letterman” and demanded, “Where the Hell are THE SINGING CATS??!” Thoughts don’t come out of nowhere.) (Russ K is a huge Letterman fan. I’m hoping this passage will bring him a smile. Russ is a huge Missy Pruitt fan too. If Eliot were writing this, he would make less sense but be much more eloquent.)
Anyway, I ended up chopping the potato unconventionally. I did half in thin slices of wedges, a third in discs, and the rest just a home-fries chopchop. And I made a staged potatoscape and thought of what potential the right painting of the scape would have in elbowing its way into the Museum of Modern Art.
Potatoes need company. This one was accompanied by slow-sautéed scrambled eggs, topped by Mexican-style blend grated cheese and surprise guest red-pepper-enhanced hummus, applied to the surface of the melting cheese using a two-spoon technique I invented for the occasion. I’d never used hummus as an ingredient before, and I may not have if I hadn’t been addled by dreams and haunting Eliot allusions, but no regrets: it was just the right amount to add a red-peppery tang. Having eaten, I am now a slightly different person than I was before I woke: slightly better nourished both by foodstuffs and by eerie, arty, Eliot-laced musings. May you, Friends, find just the sustenance and musement you yourself need today!