Saturday, July 30, 2011

What We Talk About When We Talk About Gelatin

Eventually Laura said “We really should try to eat something.” Terri pushed back her chair and said “I’ll knock something up. I’ll find something” and Laura followed her into the kitchen.
            Mel flinched when the light went on, a slant hitting the wall behind me. The wet patch where the gin had spilled was nearly dry, and he absently smoothed it with his fingers. “Don’t get married,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong; Laura’s a lovely girl. You two look very happy together. But marriage is a bitch.”
            “What else is there?” I asked. There was clattering in the kitchen. They must have found something to make.
            “Just live together, if you must,” he said. He reached for the cigarettes. “I shouldn’t smoke,” he said.
            “Go ahead,” I said and tipped the pack towards him. For a heart surgeon he sure was in bad shape. You’ve never seen a heart surgeon in such bad shape.
            “Better yet, don’t even do that. Just sleep together but keep your own apartments.”
            “I think Laura would like to get married,” I said. Actually I knew she did; we’d discussed it several times. We’d even picked out the location — her father’s place near the beach. It had a big lawn. I didn’t care one way or the other but she was keen.
            Mel rolled his eyes and then closed them, leaning his head back and exhaling smoke. “Let’s play cards,” he said. “I have cards somewhere.” So we played cards, and his mood seemed to improve when he got a straight, and then two pair.

“Ta-da!” Terri said putting the mold on the table. We’d stopped playing cards and Laura had set out plates, spoons.
            It was pink, about six inches high, and quivered slightly as it settled. It looked ominous.
            “Ok, Ok,” Mel said, “What’s all this then? What’s this made of?”
            “It’s called Raspberry Chiffon Royale,” Terri said.
            “What are we supposed to do with it?” Mel asked. Laura stifled a giggle.
            “You’re supposed to eat it,” Terri said. “You can do that, can’t you?”
            “What in God’s name is in it?” Mel said, sitting up in earnest now, peering at it closely. “What are those white bits?”
            “Egg whites,” Terri said. “Don’t be an ass. It’s all we had on hand. It’s delicious, you should try it.”
The mold occupied the same space the ice bucket had been. I’d set it on the floor when they brought it out. Laura had decorated it with some watercress leaves around the edge.
“It looks like something I see in the OR,” Mel said to me, in a whisper, but it wasn’t really a whisper. “It looks like human body fat. It looks like ballistic gelatin.”
Terri had gone back to the kitchen to fetch a cake slice to cut it with. Suddenly Mel got up from his chair and walked over to the door where his coat hung off a hook. He rifled in his pocket and came back. He was holding a gun. A Smith & Wesson. A .38 Special.
“Easy,” I said. “Easy now, Buddy.”
“Don’t worry Honey,” Mel shouted, staring at the glistening pink blob. “I’ve got it.”
And he shot it to death, over and over again.

Salad Cookbook, Family Circle, 1972

Also from this book: Chicken Mousse In Aspic (A Cult Classic)Chicken Indienne, Salmon In A Sauna
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