“For people of my age,” she thinks, “the places that they truly loved and to which they once belonged are no longer there. The places of their childhood and youth have ceased to exist … And if their outer form has been preserved, it’s all the more painful, like a shell with nothing inside it anymore. I have nowhere to return to.”*
True. Not true. Truth reflects in a mirror, untruth in appetite. Since plunging into quarantine, a child’s pallet from the 1950s has reawakened. This reincarnation suggests I microwave two White Castle hamburgers for breakfast, cut a slice from a half-defrosted Pepperidge Farm lemon cake for 4 o’clock tea. Then, as the city lights come up, zap a frozen Marie Callender chicken pot pie. Are these flavors what they were? Yes and no. Yes. I think so. No. Having totally lost my sense of smell and much of my sense of taste more than two months ago, I don’t actually know if I’m tasting or imagining.
A tune comes to mind:
Wake up, wake up you sleepy head
Get up, get out of your bed
Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red
Live, love, laugh and be happy
Walking through the fields of flowers
Rain may glisten but still I listen for hours and hours
Here’s a tune that’s been frozen in memory, my Aunt Florence and Uncle Harry sang it to me at their wedding in 1950-ish. Obviously it’s been lounging in my memory bank.
As frozen memory cubes unfreeze, here’s a question for the over fifty crowd: were Lucy and Ethel actually funny?
Then, on ordering a delivery of a meatball hero and Tiramisu from Lena’s in Kips Bay, the coffee-soaked ladyfingers, I find the mascarpone cheese in a small glass dessert bowl exactly like those eaten-from in childhood. How many evenings did we six sit around our oak oval dining table with a chocolate or tapioca or butterscotch or rice or egg custard or colored jello in a such a little glass bowl as dessert? About a million times.
Thus: I searched for and found a small cardboard box of My-T-Fine Chocolate Pudding mix identical to what it was seventy years ago, grabbed a pint of heavy cream. Shrinking back to a comfy 4’8, (the kid with bitten nails returns) I heated the mix in milk until it thickened and bubbled, poured a portion into the newly owned dessert bowl, and three more into ordinary whiskey glasses. While still hot, icy heavy cream got floated on top. Paradise. Gave a bowl to DE and, later, ate the others myself. Yes, with heavy cream. Heavy cream is what I would order as a last meal in the event that I was about to be executed and had been asked what I would like to imbibe.
Then I listened to Dubussy’s Suite Bergamasque .*****
*****[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9F4yAww9H0 – Suite Bergamasque prelude]
*From Olga Takarczuk’s Drive your Plow
**When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin’ Along sung by Al Jolson, 1926, lyrics by Harry Woods