Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Peach Guy Dressed Up as a Corn Cob

And then suddenly in the midst of my happy, Nora Ephron-inspired existence, the Peach Guy broke through and inserted himself into my life. Because of the whole learning how to cook thing I had become an avid patron of my local farmer's market, bringing home fruits and vegetables with wild abandon and learning how to fry eggplant and make zucchini bread. There was a flower stand where I'd buy my weekly bouquet of flowers which I would carefully take home by metro. Someone would invariably say that someone must really like me to give me such beautiful flowers and I'd laugh and say that I bought them myself because I could pick out my flowers better than any guy could hope to do. And this was the absolute truth. Most guys will buy assorted bouquets with some roses, and the florist uses it as an excuse to add all these lilies that no one ever buys on their own in order to fill the bouquet with cheap flowers. These are not the glorious tiger or day lilies but the insipid, dried-up, pinkish ones that aren't brave enough to be actual lilies. Picking out my own flowers meant I never had to look at those insufferably smug lilies ever again. This is a true sign of independence. All was beautiful. All was well. I was creating beautiful works of art in my kitchen, turning out homemade pies, breads, and cakes. My neighbors were deliriously happy with all my homemade offerings of the food I couldn't eat and refused to give to my freeloading roommate.

But then I caught the attention of the Peach Guy, who began flirting incessantly and inviting himself to dinner. I never even usually visited the Peach Guy's stand, but since the only other stand that had peaches was owned by a crazy lady (she decided that since I had a cat I must want to adopt these kittens she had and was promising to give them to me next time she saw me despite my numerous protests) I wandered down to see what his stand had to offer. The peaches were good, so I went back the next week. The peach pie I had planned on baking never actually came into being because in a moment of desperation I had juiced them and added a shot or two of rum. He asked me how I liked the peaches of the week before. I told him of my peach brilliance, and he offered to bring me as many as I liked if he could come over the next time I was in the mood for rum. I laughed at him. This continued on for several weeks, until finally he asked for my number, and as visions of axe-murderers danced in my head I vaguely heard my coworker giving him my number for me. 

This is how I became involved with a Peach Guy dressed up as a corn cob. Not exactly what I thought was my type, but, hey, I took a class in Agrarian Thought once. Maybe this was the philosopher farmer king of Wendell Berry's dreams? He began to text and call with regularity, taking me out to dinner, to the movies, to a concert. We began playing endless games of Words With Friends. I quickly learned that vocabulary was not his strong suit as his favorite words to play were of the two-three letter variety. Soon I realized that this was not the philosopher farmer king that I had in mind, and not just because of the size of his vocabulary. At the same time it was nice it was to have someone pay me attention again. And it was saving me vast amounts of money at the farmer's market. He brought me boxes of corn, honey, figs, peaches and nectarines until I was so sick of them (I may never be able to eat a peach again) I had to throw them away. I reasoned myself into this. I said not everyone could take me out on extravagant dates like my ex had. Besides, to ignore him would be like refusing an offer of free chocolates, and offers of free chocolates don't come along every day. I forgot the important fact that unless he is offering you free chocolates in addition to free produce, there really is no point in using that analogy to convince myself of something. I completely ignored the tell tale signs that this guy, nice as he seemed, had nothing in common with me other than favorite television shows. I closed my eyes to the fact that his sense of humor that had not evolved much past middle school and that he listened almost exclusively to whatever the top 40 songs that the rest of America was listening to. He preferred Reese's pieces cereal to my homemade challah french toast. My challah bread is a religion in its own right. It's a six-braided masterpiece with three rises, two egg washes and a liberal sprinkling of poppy seeds. To turn this down for a box of cereal from the grocery store? This alone should have caused me to stop, pause, and evaluate this relationship. The warning signs were all there. It became more and more boring, conversation topics dwindled, and peach season ended. 

But the bells began dinging through the mists of my self-delusion when I finally ran out of things to say over Chinese food. Very rarely am I at a loss for conversation, and Chinese food naturally lends itself to conversation. You can always talk about fortune cookies, whether chopsticks are the only way to eat your sweet and sour chicken, and debate the pros and cons of the weird orange sauce in the plastic packets. As I sat there frantically searching my mind for a topic of conversation, I realized that this was the end. I had a sudden vision of myself settling down to an existence of trying to please someone who had nothing in common with me except a mutual love of fruit. I had given him the benefit of the doubt, I had tried to tell myself that it was charming that his taste in breakfast food matched up with those of a six year old boy. I finally came to my senses, broke up with him, and deleted his number and all his texts from my phone. 

On the bright side, I now know the difference between peaches and nectarines and know all sorts of odd facts about PH levels in soil. I learned some very important things from this summertime fling. Just because I am offered chocolate doesn't mean I should always eat it. Life is too short and calories are too important to waste on generic Hershey's bars, because there are some really good chocolate truffles out there. More importantly, I have learned to never date a guy who plays Words With Friends by randomly placing letters on the board and hoping they count as words. Because if he doesn't have the vocabulary he may never be able to keep up his side of the conversation, and I owe it to myself to not settle for a life of silence. Or a life with someone who prefers sugar cereal to my homemade challah bread. 


Cheryl Banks said...

Nae, I adore this wonderful story which is so 'you' and now, just from the delectable description, I am inextricably craving homemade challah bread french toast! Come see me in the Springs and make it for me! Love you!

"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul,and paints [or writes, or bakes, or...] his own nature into his pictures."

~ Henry Ward Beecher

Anonymous said...

I like sweet cereal and peaches!!