This was a year ago. Strange things were happening cosmically. Several stubborn planets glided in neon concentric circles and perfectly aligned with each other. So, Mars was a 180 degrees from Venus and Jupiter was out of the way and Saturn was benignly distant and there were a lot of other even-keel placements that one really doesn’t give a lime about. What this meant was that people were suddenly finding their old music albums behind sofas, or shiny pennies on clean sidewalks, or birds controlled their poop good naturedly.
In such a time of happy happenstance, two inconsequential people were chewing the fat around a dining table – my brother and I.
My brother was eating. Ordinarily, this description would suffice if it were meant for an ordinary person, but not my brother. To say that my brother was eating is akin to describing the sea as wet.
My brother approaches food with a somber, tactical reverence. Nicholas Cage around a projector – pointless, painful, pontificating. He deifies chops and fries, and grilled tomatoes and sautéed sausages. He must savor every dash of seasoning and absorb every culinary nuance.
And when my brother eats, he eats. Everything else around the food-assimilation exercise is a mere footnote in time. So, whenever my brother partakes of food, nothing comes in between his food and his mouth – no talking, no chit-chat, no getting acquainted with elder sister (a trend that continues way past dessert). But on this astrally blithe day, he and I spoke on matters of the heart.
‘You ever wonder why anyone would love you?’, I ask.
‘You aren’t so great either, you know’, he grunts.
‘No, idiot. I’m not saying that nobody will love you; I’m just asking…have you ever thought why anyone would love you? What do you have that someone would love?’, I plod on.
‘No’, he says, cutting the 24th scramble of the eggs he was having.
‘What do you mean ‘No’?’
‘If you don’t understand what No means, why do you want to figure out why people love you?’ Something cutting-edge nasty about sarcasm on a full stomach.
I carry on like a bad dream.
‘See…it’s like this. Maybe we find people who’ll love us. But what if they don’t love us for the reasons we expect to be loved. Like, so many people love me because they think I’m nice and…’
‘Nobody thinks that.’ Sausages are now being sliced and mustard sauce is being dabbed.
‘There are plenty who think that!’, I snap.
‘They make a dessert with carrots in Poland. It’s nice.’, my brother is now wiping off the last bit of maple syrup with a thick bit of pancake.
‘Yeah..well..As I was saying. Many boys have liked me…’
‘There was only one boy..’
‘No, there were several. They like me because they think I’m sweet and nice and don’t talk rudely.’
‘Are they Polish?’
‘Are you incapable of having a thought that doesn’t arise from that bottomless pit?’
‘Whatever…where did Ma keep the lemon soufflé?’
I go and get the lemon soufflé and bang it in front of him. My brother takes a shiny tea-spoon, clears the first set of plates, and gently carves a slice of the dessert. He doesn’t notice that I’m peeved. Subtlety is obviously lost on someone.
‘Okay. Now, listen carefully. Let’s say I meet a guy. He’s absolutely wonderful. But he doesn’t love me because I can sit by the sea for hours, or walk away from anything, or walk into anyplace. He doesn’t love me for the chaos that I bring, the madness that I spread…he loves me because he thinks that I anchor him. He likes me for my stability. But I know that this stability is only brief; it’s only momentary. He likes me for my moments, not for my continuum. Do you know what I’m asking? Do you ever wonder if someone loved you for all the wrong reasons?’
My brother stops eating for a while. The last time he did that was when he’d heard that his friend had eloped or had lost his coupons to a 5 star buffet or something to that effect.
‘So what what?’
‘So what if he loves you for the wrong reasons? If he loves you, that’s enough.’
‘Is it? That’s what I’m wondering? How can he love me for something that is not even my essential virtue?’
‘You go to Pizza Hut for the pasta, don’t you? Same thing.’
Lately, as I’ve been having thoughts of love, I remember bro’s gastronomical simplification of the subject.
To speak a tad metaphorically, if love is a pizza place, then I'm there and my pasta has just arrived. Bon appetit to me.