The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
🎧 708: Ariane and I . . .

🎧 708: Ariane and I . . .

What a Piece of Work I Am, Chapter 30 begins, read by the author


ARIANE AND I were in her kitchen. She was making lasagne, going about her work with the queer verve of a chef on a television cooking show, slicing and chopping and stirring with the cool indifference of a weary pro, but sniffing and tasting with the ecstatic delight of an obsessive gourmet. The overall effect was exaggerated and comical. She took me out of myself, by attracting my attention to her and her performance. By making me smile at her she made me smile at myself. She opened a bottle of wine, poured some for both of us, and then, apparently impulsively, reached out and put her hand on my cheek, ran her thumb over my lips, and then turned away. I thought, from the abrupt way she turned aside, that she might have been hiding a tear, and I felt a thickness in my throat that made me mistrust my voice. I took a swallow of wine.
     “I used to believe that my grandparents had been together forever,” I said.  “That was when I was a child, of course, but even then I knew it wasn’t true. There’s that time, at the end of childhood, when you start to see your myths for what they are, just myths, but you still believe them. Thinking and feeling are just starting to separate in you, but are still holding on to each other. Knowledge and belief still run together, so you find yourself believing things that you know aren’t true.”
     “Knowledge is rarely a hindrance to irrational notions.”
     “I knew a little of their history, enough to know that they hadn’t really been together forever—”
     “But you were a romantic, even then.”
     “And the idea of always is a happy fiction.”
     “Yes. The shape of forever in my mouth, when I say it to myself, when I say, ‘I will love this man forever,’ it’s like”—she thrust her hand into the container on the counter—“it’s like a lotta ricotta.” She began squeezing the cheese in her hand. “It’s a creamy thought.” She drew the word creamy out so that it sounded obscene.
     I laughed again.
     She dropped the handful of cheese back into the container and began licking the residue from her fingers, slowly, showing a lot of tongue. I wanted to grab her hand and lick it clean myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that with my grandfather’s eyes all misty and my grandmother lying alone in their bedroom, suffering.
     “Actually,” I said, clearing my throat, “they had met in the most ordinary way, in the course of growing up in a small town, and I suppose there was something inevitable about it.”
     “Oh, Peter, I’m sorry,” she said at once. She grabbed my arm with her clean hand. “I really am sorry. That was horrible of me. Oh, that was so awful! I didn’t mean to—diminish them—or to vulgarize any of that. I just got into the whole thing so completely, you know? Into the act. I was playing the bad girl again. It was Tootsie, not me.”
     “Anyway,” I said, “that house they lived in, you know my grandfather built it?”
     “Yes,” she said. She wiped the last of the ricotta on her apron. “He told me.”
     “Oh,” I said. I drank some of my wine. “My grandmother had always been a sturdy woman, and I still remember her as big. But—in that last year of her life cancer made her into a frail figure. That diminished her. She became so thin that Big Grandfather could lift her. When I first saw him do it, it seemed like a remarkable feat to me, because I didn’t see her as the frail, shrinking woman she was. I hadn’t adjusted. I still saw the robust person she had been.”

[to be continued]

Have you missed an episode or two or several?

The serialization of The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy is supported by its readers. I sometimes earn affiliate fees when you click through the affiliate links in a post. EK
The illustration in the banner that opens each episode is from an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions.
The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
The entire Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy, read by the author. "A masterpiece of American humor." Los Angeles Times