Sunday, April 1, 2001

Strained Muscle or Broken Heart?

"It's Tuscaloosa, Birmingham or Baton Rouge/Hell I don't know just where I'm at to tell the truth/But the good Lord up in heaven knows what you've been going through/And he's whispering to me that he'll take care of you/My angel in distress you look OK to me/I'll send you my address when I know what it will be/I could easily stay with you on your side of heaven's door/'Cause I don't love you any less but I can't love you anymore."
-Lyle Lovett

For a while there my friend Stephanie Jane, the Aussie limper and I for budgetary purposes enjoyed an exclusive diet of potatoes, the most versatile food found on this planet. Somehow Idaho's finest represented our relationship well. You can mash them, fry them, bake them, boil them, hash brown them, any way you choose you just can't lose. I thought of old Steph the other day, as I am sometimes wistfully wont to do, when somebody mentioned to me that I had been spotted walking Mr. Max around the neighborhood.

Stephanie was the original cat walker, taking her cat Jazz out on a leash. It's an image that has never left my mind and I hope never will. I know she would have appreciated the other evening when I had a rare sudden burst of energy (that truly alarmed Mr. Max) and whipped up a stir fry featuring potatoes.

Having been inspired by my newest favorite show, The Iron Chef, I scampered off to my unfriendly neighborhood Rainbow and spontaneously picked out items for my culinary experiment: asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, pea pods, garlic, ginger, salmon (it was the cheapest non-frozen fish they had!), and of course my friend, a sack of spuds.

Mr. Max was very watchful of all the unusual action in the kitchen. I helped him by carrying on a running commentary, ala the Iron Chef commentators. "Fukai-san, (go) it appears the challenger is slicing up asparagus... Oooh..." The end result was rather tasty and true to the show actually kind of looked cool with its mixture of pink and green though I don't think I would have won the competition. And even though I had to burn several sticks of incense to cover the fishy smell leftover in the house, it was well worth the effort.

Of course Max assumed all the hubbub and abnormal aroma was being done on his account and he anxiously awaited the end result. So his usual special treat of a piece of broccoli didn't seem quite what he had in mind. Still he munched it right down as I finished my own dinner. I decided that the two of us needed to work off the extra special meal so I set about proving that felines are capable of something that their canine counterparts are not. It was time to teach my lil buddy a new trick- how to do jumping jacks.

I grabbed him under his belly (the part of him that is most definitely difficult to miss) and raised him up as he clapped his front paws together. We did this a few times as he purred away.

The next night our routine returned to the abysmal. I was heartened to see that a jury of her peers didn't vote my new beloved off the continent. It was a message that sometimes it pays to be nice. It may even be worth $300. It took me a while to figure out who my new sweetheart reminded me of and then it struck me she sort of reminds me of Sandra Bullock who reminded me of Stephanie Jane who brought back a rock from the shores of Australia just for me. She was indeed a survivor.

None of this is as transparent as J. Lo's Oscar attire but did you all see Mr. Bob grimace his way through his fine song? Pencil thin mustache, no pussyfooting' around, "Oh good God this is so exciting," the dapper Dylan said. Turns out it wasn't my favorite musical moment of the evening. Nope, not by a long shot. Instead I was pleasantly pleased to see the return of Susanna Hoffs singing a duet with Randy Newman. Her wispy vocals and skunk eyed come hither look reminded me of a painting on my wall and a poster that is hidden somewhere nearby.

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