We've congregated at A's house. A is a soundman and one of the all-time nicest, coolest guys around. He's a natural good cook--the kind of person who's comfortable enough in the kitchen to experiment wildly and get away with it.
"Damn, these are good ribs! What's in this sauce?" the s.o. is asking him.
"There's two cans of pureed fruit cocktail..."
J's fiance' F walks in with a plate of nicely charred sweet corn in the husk, and I am momentarily distracted from A's recipe. Someone's looking for butter and salt. F favors a squeeze of lime on his corn instead. I tune back in to A's recipe and I know I've lost the gist of it.
"...And it still needed that certain something. Then I saw this jar of grape jelly in the fridge, so I threw in some of that, too."
There's mashed potatoes, green beans tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, hummus with Red Hot Blue chips, cherry pie. Eventually we are all too stuffed to move. Some are sitting in lawn chairs around the bonfire, hitching to one side or the other every time the wind shifts the smoke toward them.
There are ants on the ground that keep climbing up our pantlegs. To thwart them, J and I have suspended ourselves in midair on a hammock. It's hard to get situated because the hammock keeps dumping us both toward the middle and we find ourselves elbowing each other or clunking heads. Eventually we end up sitting yoga-style, facing each other. We're talking about the college courses that almost did us in. Her nemesis was "Geology of the National Parks," which could have been fascinating but turned out to be a weed-out course full of pointless memorization.
"Kaibab Limestone," she says. "I remember that to this day."
"Vishnu Schist," I pipe up. She smiles broadly.
"Are you ready to get up?" J inquires.
"Think so," I say, stretching. We bobble slightly and regain our balance.
"On the count of three, we put our right feet down," she says.