"Nothing you can do," Marcus said, reaching over to open a pizza box resting near his guitar case. "It's cold, but help yourself."
"As if I could eat now!" I exhaled dramatically and did a spread eagle on the floor.
He simply pulled a slice of pizza from the box, folded it in half, and crammed it in his mouth. He chewed for a moment, and with his mouth still full, he pointed out that I would be the prime and only suspect.
Then, the food was awful. I'm talking stale, recycled bread plopped onto the table in a red plastic basket with a waxed-paper liner, followed by over-cooked pasta. The only reason I braved it and ordered dessert was to see if Marcus had at least thought to request a candle in my cake, do something ceremonious or special. Of course, my tiramisu arrived sans accoutrement. No drizzle of raspberry, no presentation whtsover.
Marcus sat up. sighed, and said, "What's your beef now, Darcy?"
She quickly ushered us into the kitchen. A spread of cheese, olives, and her famous shrimp puffs was laid out on the counter.
Then, before she could tell us about her childhood trip to the Grand Canyon, I said, "So what's for dinner?"
"Lasagna. Mom and I made it together," Lauren said.
The last remaining drops of coffee dripped into the pot in time with my one and only thought: I. Picked. Wrong.
We returned to the dining room, where everyone pretended to enjoy a strawberry cream pie from Crawford's Bakery. My mother apologized twice for not baking one herself.
"I love pies from Crawford's! They taste homemade," Lauren said.
My father whistled the theme from The Andy Griffith Show between bites until my mother glared at him to stop. After another few painful moments I said, "I'm not in the mood for pie. I'm going to bed. Good night."
Then we returned to the hotel, where we made love and ordered a banana split from the room service menu. Had he forgotten all of that?
Ethan salted his fish and chips and pile of green mashed potatoes. "Kiley is really nice," he said.
"Didn't say she wasn't. Just said that her teeth are bad. Sheesh," I said, wondering if he was going to be so touchy about everything. "And what's with the green mashed potatoes?"
"They're peas. Mushy peas, they're called."
"Why not? I don't get it," I said, dropping my sandwich onto the plate.
"Rachel is my friend."
"You're friends with me, too, you know."
He poured some vinegar on his fish and said, "I know that."
We took a table by the window and ordered toasted sandwiches, tea, and scones.
We returned home just after dark, and prepared our untraditional Thanksgiving dinner of salmon, asparagus, and couscous.
As I watched Phoebe guffaw at her own bad jokes and order pint after pint to wash down her pork chops covered with thick, oniony sauce, I marveled at her abundance of misplaced conficende.
Upon discovering that he had already left for the day, I went to the kitchen and whipped up a healthy agg-white omelet.
On my way home, I ducked inside a coffee shop for a short rest, ordered a decaffeinated latte, and hunkered down in a big overstuffed armchair.
That evening, when Ethan returned home, I was waiting for him with a homemade Greek salad, a glass of red wine, and softly playing classical music.
I chose a small table by the window, sitting on one chair and setting my purse, newspaper, and leather buinder on the other. Then I counsulted the sticky laminated menu and orderd herbal tea, scrambled eggs, and a scone.
Later that night, after Ethan and I had eaten his homemade beef stew for dinner and spent much time admiring my boy's sweet, matching profiles in their ultrasound photos, we went to bed.
When he did address me, it was in a formal and awkward manner, to ask things such as, "Are you enjoying your lamb shank tagine and apricot couscous?"
I shared this observation with Ethan later that night as he stood at the stove making us fried eggs and bacon for dinner. We both loved breakfast foods any time of day. In fact, one of the few things that Ethan and I agreed on in high school was that going to IHOP after football games was a better choice thatn the infinitely more popular Taco Bell.
I stood from the table and put two slices of wheat bread in his toaster. "It is sort of my business."
Our evening began at the Ivy, one of the most popular restaurants in London. The head chef was a friend of Geoffrey's, so we had a tasting meny prepared especially for us, followed by a magnificient slice of flourless chocolate cake for dessert, and some very expensive port for Geoffrey.
Ethan and I spent most of the day in our pajamas, preparing our Christmas dinner. I played the role of sous-chef, diligently taking his instructions. I chopped and peeled vegetables while Ethan focused on the turkey and fancier trimmings. Other than burning my finger in the goose fat when I removed the parsnips from the oven, everything went remarkably smoothly. Almost like a cooking show, Ethan bragged at one point.
And what a feast it was. Restaurant-worthy, for sure. We had a smoked-salmon salad with mustard and dill dressing as a starter, followed by our main course: a roast turkey seasoned with pink peppercorns, sage, and lemon. Our side dishers were roasted potatoes, pan-fried brussels sprouts with chestnuts, orange-glazed carrots, spiced red cabbage with apples, and parsnip seasoned with sea salt. And for dessert we had a delightful strawberry macaroon tart that Ethan had picked up from Maison Blanc, a bakery on Kensington Church Street.
We ate and ate until we literally couldn't take another bite, applauding our efforts along the way.
Geoffrey made reservations for us at Gordon Ramsey, the posh, Michelin-starred restaurant at Sloane Square, which was the perfect venue for a special occasion. Throughout the meal, we all prased the New French cuisine. Geoffrey called it "sublime" and Sondrine referred to it as a "symphony of flavors." I thought they both sounded a bit pretentious, although it was a fair description of my pot-roaseted belly of West Country pork with aubergine caviar, and of Ethan's roast Scottish gray-legged partridge with braised red cabbage-which I tasted more than once.
After my third bite, Geoffrey aggressively offered me a taste of his entree, and when I declined, he seemed a bit miffed. As if it were my fault that I didn't like the sound of filet of monkfish wrapped in Parma ham.
He nodded as he transferred our dinner from Styrofoam containers onto plates. "Yeah. Your life is about to change dramatically." Then he thought for a second and said, "Maybe it's also your unresolved conflict with your mother?"
"No," I said, blowing on my Pad Thai.
Ethan looked pensive as he took a bite of brown rice. He chewed, swallowed, sipped his beer, and then said, "Well, I still think we should go ahead and paint your room... just in case."
Moments later Ethan returned carrying a wooden tray. On it was a plate of scrambled eggs, sliced tomatoes, and wheat toast, all beautifully presented with a spring of parsley. "I overrode your creal order. You need protein."
Other times he'd bring me plates of wholesome snacks: cheese and crackers, sliced pears, olives, homemade pasta salad, and peanut butter sandwiches cut in quarters. He'd always talk to me while I ate.
To celebrate the milestone, Ethan surprised me with a homemade chocolate cake, bringing it back to the bedroom on his wooden tray. The cake was decorated with thirty-two blue cancles, one for each week of my pregnancy, which he lit while singing, off-key, "Happy birthday, Baby A and B!"
Emily Giffin, Something Blue