Maureen lived in LA for several years before moving to upstate New York, so when she comes to town—as she did this weekend—she has a list of old haunts she likes to visit. Many of these places were restaurants: Electric Lotus, Fred 62 and Capital Seafood, which serves a garish and irresistible hot and sour whole fish.
I ate a good three fourths of that fish. In other words, Maureen’s nostalgia coincides nicely with my gluttony.
We traipsed through the hot and sour garment district downtown, stockpiling purses and sunglasses and those frozen treats that look like Otter Pops on steroids. We saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Afterward I mused on the Oompa Loompa globalization allegory while shoving Mrs. Fields cookies into my face.
This was also the weekend that our landlord finally got around to hiring Bugs Ugh! to zap all the apartments in our building. Which meant that, after Friday night’s Creole feast at Harold & Belle’s, I got to come home and put every plate, box of cereal and bottle of vitamins we owned into plastic garbage bags and stow them in the bedroom. With all the kitchen cupboards open at the wee hours of the morning, our cat Temecula had the best night of her life. I was too tired and busy to keep her out of them, so she jumped from shelf to shelf, stopping to lounge in a spot previously occupied by our wok, as if the cabinets were a new dorm she was moving into.
When I left the bedroom door open a crack, she darted in there too, diving into the closet and rummaging through nice work shirts. Normally the bedroom is off limits, but I could see her confusion. If she was allowed to play in the cupboards, why not the bedroom? All the rules (which, for a cat, she is usually pretty good about following) were banished. This was carnival time.
In medieval Europe, carnival days were the one time of year when the peasants didn’t have to do the sucky things that peasants usually had to do: labor in the fields and not make fun of the king. All social hierarchies were suspended. According to some of my CalArts profs, the carnival ultimately reinforced the hierarchy—the peasants got to blow off some steam and act like kingly assholes once a year, making them less likely to go charge the castle on the hill with pitchforks during the rest of the year.
Similarly, stuffing myself with fried fish, mashed potatoes and egg-hash-brown-avocado-goat-cheese sandwiches now and then makes eating whole grains tolerable the rest of the time. At least in theory. But last night, as I was putting dishes and food back into our zapped and wiped-down cupboards, Temecula clearly did not understand that the carnival was over. She was a cat, and she was not about to go hoe the fields. And there’s a very good chance that I will have leftover cake for dinner tonight.