Old Friends, New Enemies

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A few weeks ago I decided to check the inbox for my blog correspondence having forgotten all about it for a while. I found an email from my old friend K—we hadn’t spoken in over six years—but she explained she had discovered my blog and had been reading it for a while before finding the courage to send an email to Fritz (as instructed), in hopes he’d pass on the message. Lucky for both of us, Fritz was agreeable that time and pretty soon K and I were planning a dinner together, which I had offered to host so we could make use of my new barbecue. I also lured her with the promise of a good bottle of wine, she offered to bring desert, and the date was set. As those things go, I got to market a little bit later than planned—to pick up all the ingredients I needed—anxious not to forget anything as I thought I’d attempt a new recipe. And then getting to my favorite butcher shop last and seeing how short on time I was, finally decided to get pre-marinated flank steaks à l’orange and keep things simple. Running around with my nose on my list I was in equal parts anxious to forget something and also anxious to get back home on time so K wouldn’t be greeted by a locked door, which I feared wouldn’t quite send out the right signal. But of course that’s exactly what ended up happening, because of my propensity for forgetfulness (as in: “what was I doing right now?”) and the unpleasant business of a taxi which showed up unreasonably late. K was standing up on my second floor front porch, holding a bunch of flowers with that familiar big smile on her face. “You haven’t changed a bit” “Neither have you” and then we hugged and kissed each other on both cheeks, while the cab driver very generously brought my grocery bags up the stairs without rushing us or saying a word.

From that moment on, I don’t think there were more than five seconds of silence for the rest of the night. We’d always had a lot to talk about, and of course now we had all that catching up to do. There was not a lot of talk about what caused the separation, we just agreed we were both going through a lot of issues in our own lives and drifted apart. We must have been talking for an hour when I realized all the groceries hadn’t been properly unpacked, the flowers were still sitting there in their wrapper, and more importantly, neither of us was holding a drink, which is when it hit me that I had completely forgotten about the “great bottle of wine”. That’s the kind of thing I would do. Luckily I had a few Grolsch beers in the fridge, which granted, wasn’t quite the same as a great bottle of wine, but was still better than past-due apple juice or water. We kept on chatting for another hour or so, by which time I thought I should get dinner started. I went to fire up the barbecue with K standing right beside me, and when I opened the gas tank valve there was a loud and somewhat scary sound of gas escaping. I was perplexed, since everything had been working fine until the day before, which was the last time I’d used it. We tried this and that to no avail when finally K discovered the holes in the hose which, judging by their size and location, could only have been chewed up by a squirrel who had apparently decided the hose would make a good midnight snack. What are the odds? In any case, dinner was saved thanks to a great cast-iron pan, a few changes to the menu and two easygoing gals who wouldn’t let such things ruin a perfectly good evening. I did manage to somehow ruin the salad dressing—the only part of the meal I actually prepared—but the steaks were delicious, and desert—a homemade chocolate-caramel mousse—was positively sinful. We talked on and on and both of us agreed we couldn’t possibly catch up in just one night. A good thing.

The next day I called the store where I’d purchased the BBQ and they offered a new hose at cost, which I think is swell. I still have to pick it up and I’ll have to come up with a protection device from the mad saboteur of course, lest he should try his shenanigans again. What will he be up to next? Will he end up skewered and barbecued? Have I mentioned I used to like squirrels?

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