daily preciousness

Saturday, October 19, 2002

jambalaya

“Jambalaya, crawfish pie, file gumbo… for tonight I’m gonna see my cherami-o!”

That’s a line from the Hank Williams song that used to be my most requested hit at karaoke. These days, I don’t get many requests for that song. But two weeks ago, I got a request for the first item on that little list. Laurie, the neighbor of my pal Henry, asked when I was going to “cook up some jambalaya” for her. I told her I would. So I did it last night.

I made no less than three trips to the grocery store to gather up all the goods for the evening. And I got three Louisiana music CDs from work.

Mitchell was so sweet – he must’ve spent about two hours cleaning the downstairs for me. He also scoured his collection of party ware (platters, plates, etc.) The living room was spotless. It was the first time in months that I’d actually seen the floor in there. Impressive work!

I was disappointed that Mitchell only made a brief appearance. I’d genuinely hoped that he and the other assorted roomies, Joe and Jerry, would’ve joined in.

(Joe – an understated 20-something polling researcher who has very deep-set eyes. I’d originally considered him “too straight ‘n’ boring to live with,” but I’ve since rescinded that judgment. He’s wiry with mouse-brown hair.)

(Jerry – a heavy-set friend of Mitchell’s who claims to be staying at the house only temporarily. But he’s friendly and has a ready smile. I think he’s a good conversationalist, too, although I haven’t had a chance to find out if I’m correct in that initial assessment. Jerry enjoys morning coffee on the back patio, where he smokes and throws cigarette butts into an unused planter.)

The guests arrived at 7:45. David, a diminutive little guy with a cute face and a tiny hearing impairment, arrived early and helped me make a salad. He brought five tiny containers of salad dressing – enough for everybody to choose their own flavor. How sweet. He also brought along his cheerful spirit. I was happy that he arrived first, since I hadn’t really had a chance to get to know him last time.

This evening was the second installment of our little dinner club. Henry invited us over two Tuesdays ago for a gorgeous meal with grilled veal and mashed polenta and a delicious spinach salad. The food was amazing. And the company was great, too. So Laurie half-joked when we’d have the “next meeting” of our dinner club. It had come out earlier in the evening that I was of Louisianian heritage. So the next evening, the “Jambalaya with Jeffrey” event was born.

Jason, Henry’s massage therapist/holistic healer hottie boyfriend with the amazing cheekbones, and his friend Sasha, a sassy café au lait woman with an espresso personality, ducked out almost as soon as they arrived. They went to procure wine.

Before long, they were back with some perfectly suited wine for jambalaya. I was impressed! It was delicious.

Henry was in a great mood, because he’d just been granted “Top Secret” security status at work. (This was a long-awaited clearance – he’d had to endure interviews, interrogations and background checks for the last two years!)

The other reason why Henry had a sparkle in his eye (well, more than usual) was the fact that he had a little Top Secret to share with me. Well, it wasn’t really a secret – it was something that I’d suspected. His friend, Cristian, whom I’d met at a recent awards ceremony, had just asked me out for dinner.

Naturally, I plied Henry with questions about said Cristian… it was my own little background check of the prospective suitor variety.

Like I told Henry, it was increasingly rare for me to meet somebody for the first time in R/L who would ever want to see me again. (R/L is the geek chic way for romantically inclined internauts to refer to a “real life” meeting of people who’ve communicated only by electronic means.)

The mid-week party was a real boost for me, since I’d felt kind of down Monday and Tuesday. There’s been a string of sniper attacks in the metro area, so local schools are in “Code Blue” mode, not letting the kids out to play. So I’ve had two school groups cancel their trips to the library. My story-times were desolate! I stood their, facing the empty arena style seating of the story pit, engaging an empty room in the enchantment of tales well told. (At least I entertained myself!)

To homosexualize a hackneyed phrase, “A fabulous time was had by all.” Yes, I know that’s a cliché of a cliché of a passive voiced statement.

But let’s face it -- I’m just a dangerous motor scooter of a writer and I don’t care whom I offend! Ha! That’s what you call reckless endangerment of good taste – at least that’s what I call it.

And that was my jamblaya party.

*** *** *** *** ***

Late breaking news: I was just typing that last paragraph when a loud blast echoed through the street of Mt. Vernon here in Del Ray. The two other customers in the coffee shop stared nervously at the bay window of the shop. After the six shootings around the area, people are easily rattled by loud noises. What was once an exhaust noise is now a serious threat to public safety!

A headline in the Washington Post proclaims that the “gunman doesn’t conform to usual patterns, experts say,” as if there could be anything “usual” about somebody going on a shooting spree!

During moments like this, I often think back to the peace and safety of my mountaintop Buddhist home in Koyasan. There was no gun violence there, mister! Although gun advocates and the NRA don’t want to hear it, I lived comfortably in the gun-free country of Japan. The Japanese often regarded Americans as savage because of capital punishment and our liberal, permissive gun laws. And I would just shrug my shoulders and shake my head when they’d ask why we allowed such violent objects around. “It’s in our Constitution,” I would tell them; “We can’t outlaw it.”

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