I like to talk to myself when I’m cooking, there’s nothing wrong with that is there? And I like to talk to myself in the theme of the food I’m cooking, if it’s French I keep my comments deep, guttural and earthy. If it’s a Thai dish, I adopt a sort of sing song bird voice. It makes no sense of course but its for the mood! It’s all about the mood.
Tonight I’m making Beef Burgundy, “Boeuf Bourguignon”. Sounds good, oui?
So cooking is what I love and given a damn good cook book, I’m a damn good cook. My problems start when I try a little free-lancing. A pinch of this, a dollop of that might help? It rarely does.
Hence my results are unpredictable, its up to chance, the roll of the dice. Tonight though, I really am trying to behave. It’s a big night after all. Joel is coming. On its own that’s not unusual. Joel has been to dinner a few times. And on the whole it has been quite successful, no injuries or fatalities. Once or twice he has even “Stayed over”. It was nice, well not bad anyway. I liked Joel. That was the point of tonight.
Back in food central, I forced my self to concentrate. I browned the beef, tricky when you are impatient like me. The oil has to be hot, “almost smoking”. If you want flavour you need caramelisation baby. The meat was Wagu, totally over the top but again, it was a special night. If ever I wanted (needed?) a receptive audience tonight was the night.
I was feeling a little giddy, hopefully not too giddy, just excited giddy. Knowing my emotions is important to me. Coping with my moods is part of life, part of my life anyway, but right now I think I’m just plan excited, after all tonight was the night I was going to “tell him”, tell Joel my little bit of news.
Once the meat was done, I threw it, and all the other ingredients, into the oven for two hours. It really needed three to four hours and a lot more fiddling, but I’m hoping with the fancy meat I can cheat. There I was, deviating from the recipe, busted! But who cares, I had bigger fish to fry tonight. Damn, I’m excited. This could be the turning point. Joel, my little Joel, could be the one, but first we have to pass a test, one small test together and when that was passed, as I hoped, yes really hoped it would be, the future was before us.
Truth was, I needed someone. I was lonely. There, I said it. I’m long past wondering if there was something wrong with me, I’m sure there is. I’ also well skilled in suspecting I actually deserved someone. But is is too much to ask? Someone to be with, just some company. I don’t want to own them after all, I just want a friend.
I was in a whirl now as I completed all the little details for the meal. Table set, lights right, music on. I showered, put on my favourite outfit. the slinky dress, not too sexy but just a bit, fixed my hair, bit of perfume.
Later I thought back over how it had gone. Not too bad really. He hadn’t stayed over, which is completely understandable. Big day tomorrow. We work together so I know how busy he is.
The meal was terrific. A little watery, maybe I should have reduced it a little. Oh anyway, it tasted good, the meat was tender, veggies, salad perfect. He brought a nice bottle of wine and we had a nice talk about work, people we knew, you know. I was quite chatty but I often am. Not over the top I’m sure.
Of course I told him my little secret.
“Joel” I said after putting our steaming plates down and sitting opposite. “Joel, I have bipolar disorder and I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist for four years. It means that there are times when I’m very happy and times when I’m very sad. I just thought you should know.“
There. It was out.
Joel was good. Not even a flicker. he was placing the first forkful of food in his mouth and there was not the slightest hesitation. He chewed, not a sliver of surprise lighting his face.
He swallowed that mouthful and said quite simply, “Really?”
Looking back I’m not sure exactly what he meant. Was it “Really. This beef is just amazing and the fact that you have a mental illness only makes you more attractive to me, as I now know there is a deeper and more interesting side to you which we can explore together!” Or “Really? Can see now we have absolutely no future. Let me out of here!”
I’m still not sure. We talked briefly about it. I explained that I was very well managed and hadn’t had a bad episode for over a year. He didn’t seem fazed but then he did seem to drink most of the wine and of course after desert he, you know, ”had to go”. So I’m still wondering.
Actually I’m not. His “Really? was of the “Really, and you think we have future?” kind.
Was I asking too much? I mean I’m not crazy, crazy, I just have some issues. Everybody has something, don’t they?
Well the dishes are done and yes I had my phone nearby, just in case he called to say “Great night. Sorry if I seemed a bit strange. I guess I couldn’t deal with your news immediately. It’s all fine though, we’ll be fine, we have a future.”
But he didn’t.
Then again maybe it was the meal? Then again maybe it wasn’t.