I guess it’s over…whatever “it” was. My latest breakup wasn’t a bash-you-in-the-knees a la Tonya Harding kind of shock; it was a chip-in-the-windshield-that-slowly-spreads kind of heartbreak. It was so subtle, I didn’t initially recognize my sadness as such. But the tell-tale signs of break-up mode were there: The insomnia. The self-medication with sugar. The over-use of battery-operated devices...
Eventually the anesthetizing effects of my coping mechanisms wore off and I realized what was behind my resistance to write. I’d convinced myself that as long as there was no documentation, the devastation had never happened. Writing a post would be proof that it had ended. But I sat down to confront my feelings on the screen anyway…and was astonished to see that “the story of us” had come full circle.
You may recall that I took a trip to Montreal last summer. What I didn’t tell you was why. At the time, I was writing a novel about the situation with The-Rapist. Because the genre of fiction afforded me creative freedom, I added a Mr. Right to the story that I did not have in real life. All was going well until, in one of the date scenes, Mr. Right declared himself Irish. "WTF?" I asked my muse. I’d never dated an Irishman before and Mr. Right was supposed to be a Canuk ex-hockey player. How in the world was I going to incorporate those crucial details into a convincing story?
Traveling, of course. I decided to take a trip to Canada in the name of research, but going to Puck’s hometown of Winnipeg seemed stalkerish, so I picked Montreal instead.
This is the serendipitous moment: it wasn’t until after I’d made my reservations that I discovered that Montreal has the highest per-capita concentration of Irish Canadians. There’s even a freakin’ Irish Canadian museum in Montreal. It had to be a sign that I was on the “write” track! Once I arrived in Montreal and saw how snobbishly French everyone was, I didn’t want Mr. Right to be from Quebec anymore. Major revisions were needed to make the novel work, so I set it aside and started this website instead.
Eventually, I wrote a series of posts about my Canadian adventure. The ex in question immediately emailed me to say he “loved” them...and later revealed he was Irish (sorry, babe, I think I just blew your cover). I couldn't believe the power of my pen! What were the chances?
While I couldn’t imagine my fictional Mr. Right as a resident of Montreal, the ex would totally fit in there. He's so charmingly pretentious and sophisticated. He's the kind of guy who can wear a scarf without making me question his sexuality; the kind of guy who can pronounce fancy schmancy items on a bistro menu but is just as likely to order a platter of gooey poutine instead; the kind of guy who satiates his sweet tooth with custardy desserts that I will only eat if coerced (i.e. panna cotta); the kind of guy who orders sorbet not as a taste-bud tickler, but as a "palate cleanser". He also loved the bottle as much as my Mr. Right did. (Another decision made by the muse, much to my chagrin. Authors really have no control over their characters.)
Save for the crotch rocket, SB was practically Mr. Right incarnate! After making that connection, I arrived at the truth I'd been stuffing down all week: I had really fallen for Slump Buster.
(Side-bar for my new slew of suitors: no need to get insecure. Please note use of past tense.)
Though “I love you”s were never exchanged (nor did I expect them to be), I had those three little words tucked against the inside of my cheek like a forbidden gumball, one I had to keep hidden until I felt safe enough to reveal it.
And while I never told SB that I loved him, there were still a lot of things I loved about him…
I loved how he looked in his coat; so big, so solid, yet soft. Like I could land there. I loved how he could say something incredibly naughty, yet maintain an expression and tone as straight-laced as though we were talking about where the car was parked. Once, as we awaited the start of a concert amongst a crowd of college students, I asked what kind of music he liked. “The sound of you coming,” he said. (It was so sexy, I swear I almost came when he said it.) I loved his ability to read not only my book and this blog without judgment, but the uncanny way he read me and didn’t hesitate to call me on my incongruencies. He was like my mirror, reflecting back the flaws I was trying so pathetically to hide.
I could go on, but I won't. (Perhaps in a subsequent post...though I hope to have this man out of my system by the end of the week.) I would have liked to tell him all of that in person, but since he seems to have disappeared, I made a recipe in his honor instead.
SB once suggested I make crème brûlée, to which I huffed “That requires equipment!” (Man Eater and tools don’t mix.)
Then I stumbled onto a recipe for baked crème brûlée French toast on Foodbuzz. Now that I could make. So I did. And holy shit, it was delicious. The only problem was that I had a dozen slices of this stuff and just one mouth. I reluctantly froze the leftovers, fearing that I'd destroyed the best French toast I’d ever tasted. By bedtime, I was craving a second slice. And this is where the happy ending comes in: crème brûlée French toast tasted just as delish reheated as it did fresh!
Though if SB were here, he wouldn’t bother to heat it up. He liked his food cold, or so he said. That always made my heart ache for him; it seemed like the cardinal sign of a kid that wasn’t cared for.
Had he and I stayed together, he would’ve had hot, home-cooked meals three times a day! (Not to mention the hot dessert, also three times daily if desired…)
But off my soap box and back to crème brûlée French toast. You must heat up this ridiculously fattening breakfast food because it’s saturated with cream and butter and syrup and eggs. If it’s cold, you can’t experience that exquisite squishiness.
Is there a lesson here? I don’t know. Perhaps some foods—-and some couples-—can withstand a cool-down period and be just as delicious if heated up again in the future?
COME AGAIN? CRÈME BRÛLÉE FRENCH TOAST
1 loaf Challah bread, sliced
12 ounces whipping cream heavy whipping cream
3 ounces whole milk
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Grease 13 x 9 baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange slices in plan. Avoid double-layering if possible.
• In large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, and milk. Set aside.
• In saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Heat over medium, stirring often, until uniform. Pour over Challah, using tongs to ensure that all slices are coated.
• Pour egg mixture over Challah.
• Pat down on bread slices several times with spatula until bubbles surface.
• Bake until set, about 40 minutes.
• Stuff face immediately until stomach reaches capacity, then transfer remaining slices to Tupperware and freeze. Don't make me remind you to heat before you eat! Can I get an Amen?