It's a strange sensation to look at a pasta you ate and enjoyed just a few weeks ago and discover you don't remember it. I recall how wonderful I thought alfredo sauce with meatballs was. When I picked up today's pasta I could only remember it was a creamy sauce, and now I can't make sense of it.
I stood up and closed my eyes and saw Vino, myself - six or seven years old, sitting at the dinner table with a cookbook, learning to review food, saying the words over and over with my mother sitting beside him, beside me...
"Try it again."
"A fine bouquet. A certain je ne nais quois. Delicate notes of basil."
"No! Not basil! It's caraway!" Pointing with her rough-scrubbed finger.
"A fine bouquet. A certain caraway. Delicate notes of je ne sais quois."
"No! You're not trying. Do it again!"
Do it again... do it again... do it again...
"Leave the boy alone. You've got him terrified."
"He's got to learn. He's too lazy to concentrate."
Caraway. Caraway. Delicate notes of caraway.
"He's slower than the other children. Give him time."
"He's normal. There's nothing wrong with him. Just lazy. I'll beat it into him until he learns."
A certain...a certain je ne sais quois. Sais ne je quois. Quois sais ne je.
And then looking up from the table, it seems to me I saw myself, through Vino's eyes, a forkful of pasta, and I realized I was bending the utensil with the pressure of both hands as if I wanted to snap it in half. I threw the fork against the wall, the creamy sauce smearing and then slowly sliding down the wall. I let it lay there and its ragged white tongues were laughing because I couldn't understand what they were saying.
Lunch was skipped.
Dinner was composed of three plates of pasta:
I've got to try to hold onto some of the things I've learned. Please, God, don't take it all away.
A special thanks to my dining companion, Tawnya!