On Turning 50, with Love and Good Food

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It all began with lobsters.

It was my birthday weekend. I had to have lobsters.

As usual, this was a recipe for trouble. While The New Girlfriend stood in a supermarket lineup waiting for a “barcode problem” to be resolved and our future dinner wriggled in its bag, (how do you barcode a lobster?)I was at home, looking dolefully at the hammer and pliers and realizing: a) I had once again neglected to purchase lobster implements, b) I only had a medium-size soup pot on hand, c) Five people would be eating 5 lobsters, and d) Each live lobster would have to be murdered individually.

Can. You. Please. Make. Me. A. Cocktail. I said to my sister, visiting for the weekend and she complied, if warily.

I put the potatoes in to bake. I minced garlic for garlic butter. I waited for the lobsters to arrive and the proverbial claws to hit the fan.

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The New Girlfriend was pleasant enough when she returned, despite the long trip foraging for crustaceans, but stated unequivocally that she would not be involved in the carnage. The Queer Organizer arrived with her new girlfriend, The Experimental Filmmaker, and both quickly got out of the kitchen and onto the deck, where appetizers awaited: as far from the doomed lobsters as possible.

New Girlfriend got very busy fitting the lobsters into the fridge so they wouldn’t die.

Uh. I. Think. They’re. On. Death. Row. I reminded her. She ignored me, which she has been doing more of lately, or at least when my humour gets a little too dry or macabre.

I stood helplessly in the kitchen. The Filmmaker came in and said she’d stay in the room with me while I cooked the damn things. I laughed, in what I hoped was a bitter and tragic manner.

Finally, it was my little sister who saved the day. I’ll. Do. It. she said. I’d never seen such steely resolve in her before. Shoulders squared, jaw set, she opened a bag. Into the boiling water went the first lobster, but not before clinging to the edge of the pot. I heard a scream. I think it was me. The New Girlfriend and I held each other, suddenly sentimental. My sister sipped calmly on her gin and tonic, munched on an appetizer, and then pulled the cooked lobster out of the water. In and out they went.

Meanwhile, The Filmmaker found instructions in Joy of Cooking on How to Eat a Lobster Without Implements, written in 1940. As we began to eat, she read aloud. It sounded extremely complicated, rather like an anatomy class.

Eventually, everyone just used the hammer and pliers. It all got quite primitive, delicious, and fun.

Friends and family and food. Things coming together, the world turning on its axis, and love, so necessary, complicated, and ever-changing, at the centre of it all.

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