It was not yet seven, and Ivan took a running leap and landed on my bed where I was writing.
“Can we play Star Wars?” he asked. I nodded. ”You are the queen and I am the guard,” he said, establishing himself against the wall, poised to strike with his light saber made of stick and orange duct tape at whomever entered the room.
“Go on,” he said. “Write.”
I picked up the pen to begin.
“Pretend you are the queen and your room is a gym,” he said, and turned his light saber parallel to the floor, lifting and lowering it like a barbell. “Tell me to do some squats.”
“Do some squats.”
“I don’t know. Remember, I’m the queen who wants to write. You’ve got to ask a gym Jedi.”
“Right,” he said, and wandered out of the room.
Minutes later I heard the thin click of high heels on wood floor and his older sister’s yells. In my home, the sword is mightier than the pen.
The salad bowl is its own story, polished with olive oil and suffering a significant chip from its rim, it’s graced my table nightly since Marcel and I married eighteen years ago. My basic dressing is three parts olive oil to one part vinegar, but I prefer the pictorial recipe I found in “The Fireside Cookbook” written by James Beard in 1949 and illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen:
Four persons are wanted to make a salad — a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counselor for salt and a madman to stir it all up.
My children, however, resent the recommended company and insist upon their own ratios, delivering to the table salads dressed more tartly than a teenager girl, others so bland I brought the bottles of vinegar and oil to the table to correct the deficiencies.
Over time, the bowl’s matching serving spoons went missing, or maybe I broke one? Yes, in a rage spoon hit table, wood splintered, and the top half of the spoon flew across the kitchen as I held the handle in my hand. Memory is a single, oily moment of time, pressed to extract its essence, which drips to form a glistening puddle undisturbed for years until I walk through it, the moment clinging to the soles of my shoes so that as I make the day’s salad I remember a spoon’s demise. For years, the family made do, serving the salad with cooking spoons until one child or another gave me a new set as a gift. Wear and tear gave them their own chipped rims, and things matched once again.