I’m weird, you’re weird

I always eat a sandwich in exactly the same, but, bizarre way. And it doesn’t matter what the filling is. Yesterday it just happened to be a delicious BLT Guido had made for me.

The bread was powder white, the iceberg lettuce was shredded, the tomato was a juicy red buffalo and the bacon was grilled to perfection. It goes without saying things went flaky when I started to eat and I’m not referring to the sandwich. I have culinary musts.

1. Must be served on a plate. Preferably oval but any shape will do in a crockery emergency.

2. Must be cut into two horizontal parts. Four triangles? I’m not a three year old.

3. Must peel back the top slices off first and eat those both separately before anything else. Which then obviously necessitates an urgent need for cutlery.

4. Squiggle a line of ketchup precisely. This should be exactly 6 centimetres in length but absolutely MUST NOT touch the bread.

I could probably carry on right beyond number 10 but I’ve limited word count.

“Do you have any idea how weird you are?” Guido asked me staring at my deconstructed lunch.

”Yes,” I said, “and it’s taken me years of careful practice to get to this point.”

”In fact I’d go so far as to say you’re possibly the weirdest person I know,” he said.

Which I have to tell you was pretty rich coming from Guido, who always religiously reads the back of a shampoo bottle whenever he’s in the shower.

”Though I have to say you have some peculiar idiosyncrasies yourself,” I said measuring my squiggle.

Here’s the thing. When Guido gets dressed in the morning he insists on putting his clothes on in a strict order. He never deviates. Boxers first. Socks. Shirt. Then lastly, jeans. If he throws everything on in a rush he can get quite discombobulated and has to strip off and start all over again. Which is a pretty big deal at 5.30 in the morning.

”Prove it,” he said slouching back in his chair.

I crunched a piece of bacon. I drew up a long and extensive mental list. I wondered what to pick first and which to leave out and what would make him sound even more of a freak than I was.

”For starters you read newspapers backwards,” I said.

I lifted the top left hand piece of bread and nibbled the gooey bit first.

“You always set the volume level on the TV to 10, even if this means neither of us can actually hear it. If I turn it up to 12 you turn it back down to 10.”

By the way, I leave the crusts for last.

”You’re afraid of birds. Particularly one randomly landing on your head.”

I lifted the top right hand piece. It was gooey too but not overly. This was good. Infact on a scale of gooeyness it was a 5. Having a scale of gooeyness is not in any way weird.

“I once saw you eat ice cream with a fork,” I said.

Speaking of forks – I needed one.

“And, you have the ability to sneeze with your eyes still wide open.”

There was a brief silence.

“But hey some of my weirdness I know you definitely like.” He cocked an eyebrow.

There was another brief silence. I was happy for him to prove it.

Advertisements

Stuck on you

Sometimes people have a very specific view about their lives and unfortunately it isn’t always exactly the same as someone else.

”If your life was suddenly turned upside down what would you do?” asked Guido over lunch today. “I mean, think about it. Imagine everything you thought was real and dear to you, wasn’t.”

This is what happens round here. Guido ambitiously decides to substitute grilled chicken strips for jumbo prawns in his paella, then starts to question the meaning of life.

”Like what?” I said sipping a very cold glass of white wine. By the way it was barely noon but I was drinking alcohol, and I’m making no apologies for that.

I had some terrific Sauvignon Blanc in one hand and a Greek olive on the end of a cocktail stick in the other. Everything was normal and real and as far as I could tell I was the right way up. The wine was cold, the olive was salty and earlier, when Guido and I had been in bed, we’d had terrific sex without any extraneous assistance. Sometimes you just have to live dangerously folks.

”Well,” said Guido crunching a breadstick, “Arnold, the guy who delivers the sacks of potatoes to the cafe every week, told me Friday his wife Alice had just run off with his best friend.”

I’ve actually met Arnold. He has a very small body with tiny little arms and legs but a very large and oversized bald head. What he can’t tell you about a potato probably isn’t worth knowing about in the first place.

”Look on the bright side,” I said optimistically with my mouth full, “I expect Arnold will probably be much happier without her.”

”Nope,” said Guido shaking his head. “The bank account with all his savings in it is in his wife’s sole name. Arnold thinks they might have both fled to Belgium.”

Which, if you’re serious about fleeing a husband who resembles a Mr Potato Head then, it’s probably just as good a place to go as any.

“Okay,” I said, “then maybe there’s no bright side to look on after all.”

Guido took another crunch.

“Arnold wanted to know if I had any idea how to alert Interpol,” Guido said in all seriousness. Which just goes to show the sort of idiotic questions a humble London cafe owner is expected to field these days.

I took another sip of wine.

”Poor guy,” I said, “I suppose for us it would be a bit like me running off with your best friend Ted.”

And trust me, you have to perish that thought for my sakes. For a start Guido has no money to steal and the dire condition of Ted’s boney knees means I don’t think he’d be able to flee much further than just south of Pimlico without being on the verge of collapse. Let alone the watery shores of Antwerp.

”Hey kiddo,” I said, “you’re going to be stuck with me for a very long time indeed. I won’t be fleeing any where any time soon. Our world is exactly the way it should be.”

I thought about Alice blissfully enjoying a potato free existence on continental Europe. For her sakes I just hope it’s all worth it.

Oh by the way. If you ever need Interpol you can call them on 616-9000.

I’ll have what he’s having

We’ve had snow in London twice now in a single month. That’s almost unheard of around here. The way some people have been behaving you’d think the whole world was teetering dangerously on the brink of some sort of Armageddon. And don’t even get me started about the public transport system.

I was standing in line for the bus last week when a random dude pushed right in front of me.

I’m late for work – with a capital F!” he shouted at me. “Fine,” I yelled back, “with a capital F!

“That’s what I love about this city,” said my friend Marc, “in times of need total strangers still have a complete disregard for their fellow man. I’m surprised he didn’t take your head off.”

Marc had stopped by the cafe for a bowl of something hot and steamy. He chose a cup of Guido’s carrot coriander soup. It’s been flying out of the door all day. I can highly recommend it if you’re having a day with an F in it.

“Yeah, whatever happened to the Blitz spirit that glued us all together?” I said, “All I know is my mother resorted to panic food shopping at Harrods. Apparently she ended up back at her apartment and all she had was a bottle of raspberry flavoured gin, a jar of pickled turnip tops, and a home macaroon making kit.”

I tried to imagine what my mother would do with all of that stuff. She’d call it – Hors D’oeuvre, Entrée and Dessert. Of course if she was hungry enough she’d have ended up over here at the cafe picking something delicious from the specials board.

“Listen, I think if we were denied copious amounts of food for a few days we’d all be in much better shape,” Marc sighed slowing patting his mid-riff.

“Are you kidding me?” I said, “God forbid.”

I tried to imagine a dinner without linguine smothered in garlic oil and trust me it wasn’t pretty.

“As you know I act like a crazy person when I’m hungry.” I said.

I dipped my bread crust vigorously into my Miso broth. It instantly went pleasingly soggy.

“I remember starving myself through my last banana diet. One night I found myself sobbing uncontrollably on the sofa during an episode of Hawaii 5-O. Rather than admit to a perverted craving for rocky road baked cheesecake I told Guido I was moved by the rugged beauty of Steve McGarrett’s chest hair.”

There was a pause for obvious reasons.

”I get it. At times like that baby,” said Marc, “all you want is comfort food.” He licked his spoon when he said that.

I thought about what comfort really meant to me. Naturally I thought about maple syrup. Who wouldn’t? I thought about the endless possibilities of good mayonnaise.Then inexplicably my brain made a connection to Guido’s thighs. Imagine if all that was rationed and in short supply. Life wouldn’t be much worth living.

”We all appreciate the special things in our life,” said Marc. “I guess that’s why I keep eating here.” He took another mouthful of soup.

That was reassuring.

So if the real Armageddon ever does happen, do take the time to stop by. In the unlikely event there’s nothing you fancy on the menu, I’ll get Guido to quickly rustle something up for you.

Music to make love to

When Guido and I lived in the loft above The Spanish Onion our immediate neighbours were a lesbian couple called Bethany and Ethel. We always knew when they were having sex because of the groaning emanating through our walls. Sometimes the electricity power would inexplicably fluctuate and the floor boards would creak like they were manoeuvring a baby grand. One morning after a particularly passionate session I bumped into Ethel in the street outside.

”Did the earth move for you?” I asked.

Everytme they got amorous after that they’d turn up their music system to try to mask what they were up to. Let’s just say their taste in music was eclectic. Guido would always wait until everything had gone completely quiet, then he’d rattle our headboard against their bedroom wall and crank up “It’s Raining Men” at full volume. I honestly don’t think they saw the funny side.

There is a point to this story.

My father came round to the cafe for breakfast yesterday.

“I’m taking a lady friend back to my place tonight,” he nibbled his buttered toast furtively, “and I want things to be perfect.”

“Who is she?” I’m nothing if not direct.

”Let’s just call her special,” he nibbled, “I want the ambiance to be absolutely perfect.”

He’d bought toxic wine, he had scented candles, and was planning on scattering floor cushions. What woman would not be utterly seduced by this? Except now he was stuck on appropriate music. This was not surprising as, Amber, his nubile ex-girlfriend would only ever take her clothes off listening to One Direction.

”Things squelch when you make love over 60 so I want something to drown it out,” he said.

“Hmm, “ I said, “in that case you don’t want anything with too quick a tempo, unless you’re planning a premature ending.”

He stopped nibbling.

”Listen kiddo, at my age I need something that takes a while to build up to the big crescendo, but, doesn’t turn into a full-on marathon.” He sipped his coffee, “I’m not the man I used to be.”

Beethoven’s 5th was obviously out then.

“So nothing too shmaltzy or anything that could turn into a singalong,” I asked.

”The last thing I want is to hear her breaking into song and throwing me off my concentration.” He unconsciously nibbled faster.

”Well Guido and I have our favourite tracks, but obviously depends if we’re using mayonnaise or melted chocolate at the time.” I dunked my donut. “Listen, I’ll email you a suggestion,”

Later that night I called my mother.

“I can’t talk long darling,” she said all breathy, “I’m seeing a man friend later.”

”Who is he?” I asked.

“Let’s just call him special,” she said.

It was 2 a.m. when I woke up in bed. My eyes were wide open and it wasn’t because Guido was snoring like a fog horn. The penny had finally dropped. After forty years of happy divorce my parents were making love to each other again.

Anyway, here’s the track I picked. If you do try listening to this whilst making love, don’t blame me if you start thinking about two sixty five year fruit cakes having weird sex with a scatter cushion.

Though I really wouldn’t blame you if you did.

He’s got to have it

Last night Guido and I were laying naked in bed. Regular readers will know this is not in any way an unusual occurrence.

Let’s just say there’s a certain order to life which must be followed. The sun goes around the moon. The ocean tide rolls out and then it comes back in again. Spaghetti is boiled in salted water. Then it’s got to be tossed into a seafood sauce and served with garlicky bread. Of course, over here it’s eaten by the two of us in bed. Like I say, it’s the natural order of the universe, so taking all our clothes off is obligatory.

The phone rang. I balanced my spoon momentarily onto Guido’s hairy thigh.

It was Gary. Ted had whisked him off to Paris for the weekend. They were in a suite at The Hotel Sans Regis and wanted room service.

“So what in the hell are you calling me for in Denmark Hill? Press 9,” I said.

“I figured you and Guido eat a lot in bed and then straight after you have sex,” he said, “I consider you experts in your field.”

Familiarity breeds contempt, I thought.

“So, Ted figured you’d know what might stir up some excitement, whilst simultaneously avoiding any effects of long term indigestion,” said Gary.

Worryingly, this discussion was going down the perfect sense route.

“Hmm, well ok,” I said, “and if I happened to be laying between 1000 thread Egyptian cotton sheets right now instead of our old knitted blanket – what are my options if feeling completely insatiable?” I asked.

I picked up my spoon. I played with my prawn. I thought about being in Paris drinking champagne and staring at a neo classically hand painted deluxe room ceiling.

“I was thinking about the parmigiana? It’s roasted in the chefs own tomato sauce, can be easily shared – but just guessing we could possibly stain the pillows,” said Gary.

“Hold on,” I said. I held the receiver to my chest. “Have we ever had sex which involved an aubergine?” I asked Guido.

He sucked a clam shell. He frowned.

“Are you talking to your Mother?” asked Guido.

“Ted wants to know,” I said.

He thought for a moment. I can always tell when he’s thinking because it takes all of his powers of concentration and he blinks a lot.

“Well, in that case, yeah we have, but tell Gary to proceed with extreme caution,” he said blinking.

I picked up the phone again.

“Personally Gary, I’d pass,” I said.

I really couldn’t remember an aubergine but I could definitely recall fond memories of a stuffed zucchini.

“How about the house Risotto Parmesan?” asked Gary. He sounded hungry and as if time was of the essence. I was guessing Ted was impatient to get the party started.

“Can be interesting, if a little filling,” I said and that was the Gods own truth.

I poked my calamari.

“They have oysters but it doesn’t say anything about Worcestershire Sauce,” said Gary.

“Well Casanova used to eat them for breakfast and we all know what he was capable of.”

Gary hung up. I picked up my spoon.

“Gary called us experts at eating in bed just before having sex,” I said.

“And justifiably so!” said Guido matter of factly.

That’s the thing about this blog. It’s become a public service.

Relatively speaking

It never ceases to amaze who you can end up sitting opposite at a lunch table these days. Yesterday, in our cafe, I was innocently discussing the pros and cons of a toasted bagel with a shaggy haired and friendly young guy, and, guess what? He turns out to be a well known and published English quantum physicist.

Dominic lives in Denmark Hill. In between slices of smoked salmon and cream cheese he explained the theory of relativity. And as I’m a complete dummy he didn’t find that particularly easy, but he was a very patient man. As was I, because my minestrone soup ended up stone cold.

“The whole piece of time is a landscape,” he said, “and, although you might not always realise it, we’re all shifting through it constantly.”

I nodded enthusiastically. Who needs food when you’ve got gravitational time dilation?

“It must be really tedious dreaming up entertaining ways to explain the rules of elementary particles,” I said, “without sounding pedantic.”

I stirred some Parmesan cheese into my minestrone and watched it quickly melt. There was definitely a scientific analogy in that bowl, but unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough or smart enough to explain it to Dominic.

“Most of us experience relative motion every day,” he said chewing his bagel. Against my better judgment it was untoasted.

“Oh absolutely,” I said, “in fact I was saying that just last week to my husband as I nudged him back over to his side of the bed in the middle of the night.”

I could tell Dominic was impressed by my grasp of force fields.

“So, imagine you’re sitting on a bus and I’m walking along a street,” he said. “Technically you’re perfectly still on that bus, but of course, moving. That’s because the bus is moving.”

I blinked. I suddenly felt hungry.

“Let’s say the traffic slows to a crawl and, although I’m still walking, I’m able to catch up with that bus.”

I sucked my spoon thoughtfully.

“This sounds just like the number 42 route to Liverpool Street,” I said, “it’s a bitch in the rush hour. If it’s relative speed you’re after, then please avoid it like the plague.”

I really didn’t think Dominic took the bus, he looked like he regularly skateboarded.

“And as I walk along next to the bus, you look out of the window, and I wave.” Dominic waved across the table at this point. And I’m sorry to have to tell you, I waved back.

“Whilst we’re are both separately in motion – because you’re on that bus and I’m walking next to it – to the naked eye it appears that we’re at a standstill because we are both moving, at exactly the same speed, at exactly the same time.”

After a while I could see Dominic’s lips moving but the only audible words I could hear were blah blah blah, interspersed with – Newton’s apple, Albert Einstein’s moustache, and microwave background radiation. It was at that point I decided to abandon my ambitions of becoming a physicist and just stay with wallpapering.

Later, as I was getting ready for bed, I told Guido that time becomes slower the closer you get to travelling at the speed of light. But I’m not sure he was that interested.

He said he had something far more pressing on his mind.

About twelve inches

Our bed is six feet six inches long, and six feet wide. It’s got to be big. Guido’s a giant at almost seven feet tall in his socks. His ankles stick out over the edge like a diving board. Our bed is where we sleep but it’s also where we happily hang out and hypothesise about the meaning of life, where we have weird sex and where we eat vulgar quantities of pasta. This may sound utterly sordid but I unapologetically report it seems perfectly normal round here.

When we lived in the loft in Bermondsey it felt like our mattress consumed our entire bedroom. I guess it did. To get from one side of the floor to the other you had to pretend you were climbing onto a giant trampoline; you took a leap and then a jump. In a bizarre way, that could be a lot of fun. Especially if Guido was feeling fruity and I just happened to be doing the splits at the time. Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is because although you know how hard I try to be magnanimous in everything I do – I have a guilty confession to make about bedtime.

I get territorial.

If you lived in London, surrounded by pushing and dodging, you’d know exactly what I was talking about. So in bed I like some personal space. And that means the centre button on our padded headboard marks the non negotiable point where the invisible border is drawn. It’s the line in the sand between my side, and Guido’s. Hey, if I was Donald – I’d build a wall.

Yet Guido has a sneaky ability to creep right over. He’s crafty. Just after lights are switched out I can feel his big toe twitching in eager anticipation. Then a kneecap might nudge me and, if I give him an inch, I can guarantee you a hairy thigh. That’s when he really goes in for the kill and makes his move. He sometimes actually pretends he’s sleeping whilst he’s doing this and thinks I’m fooled by that. He’ll even give a big snort in the darkness and he’ll try to distract my attention by rolling right over. The next thing I know, I’ve been displace to the chilly outer reaches of the sheets. Hanging on for dear life; next stop, the floor. That’s when he’ll settle and I swear he’s laying in the middle of the bed making a star shape with his arms and legs as a sign of victory.

Last night I climbed into bed. I counted the buttons on the headboard. I was exactly where I belonged. And so was he. Right after lights out I felt his toe twitch.

How laughably predictable. I stifled a tut.

There was a nudge. It wasn’t a kneecap so I lay perfectly still. What would President Trump do, I thought? Right on cue Guido snorted so I took my chance and flicked the lamp back on and pulled back the blanket.

”So you thought you’d try to out manoeuvre me, well Ha! Ha! the joke’s on you Guido Vasquez cos I was wide awake and I’ve still got loads of wriggle room.”

There was a short pause as Guido looked up at me naked.

”I see,” he said, “would you like a few more inches?