Dirty girl

El Delfin
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS I washed the dishes. Put my clothes away. Emptied the compost. I let the fire go out and sat on top of the wood stove in my underwear. The phone rang: how was my weekend?

Let me think about it, I said. I said there was blood on my bed, every single thing smelled like smoke, my eyes burned, I hadn't shat since Thursday, and my cat was lucky to be alive. Me too, but for a whole different reason. In short, it was my new favorite weekend ever, I said. Yours?

What reason?

Because I care. You said, "How was your weekend?" I say, "Fine, thank you, yours?"

No. I mean why are you lucky to be alive — compared to why the cat is.

Life is good, I said. We have fun, we make a mess, we clean it up, we listen to music. And the mess keeps creeping back in and we keep cleaning it up. I wouldn't have it any other way. Yes I would, because eventually, I'm told, it wins. It dirties us.

Are you in love, or just weird?

Lost signal. What I was was dirty, so I took a bath. I thought about scrubbing the smoke damage off of my walls with a sponge. I thought about the look that cats get in their litter boxes, the glazed place that they go, at once so far away and yet never more at home.

We can get there too! Weed's too easy. Try hot sauce. Try three years of almost nothing followed by three days of almost-nothing-but.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The Mountains hosted and I, the Woods, cooked. Our guests were Cities. Smoked turkey, sausage-and-cornbread-and-biscuit stuffing–stuffed red peppers, mustard greens, apple sauce, cranberry relish, cranberry sauce, and an apple pie.

Everything had meat in it. I had asked 10 times if any of the Cities were vegetarian, and the Mountains had said no (no no no no no no).

There was a vegetarian. For me, the novice cooker and enthusiast-at-large, all will and no clue, this was a dream come true. A last-minute vegetarian at my meatfest, like a drowning kid to a teenage lifeguard, and the boy she's liked all summer is watching.... Splash!

I looked at Mookie, the Brick, my Chief Number One (and only) Assistant, who I was going to go home with but nobody knew that yet, and I smiled.

He looked neutral. Maybe he was tired of taking orders, chopping this, grating that ... everything else was in the oven. And on the grill, chilling in the fridge, or simmering on back burners, waiting for the bell. This was supposed to be Miller Time, not a cross between Baywatch and Iron Chef.

Now the Mountains, as you know, are two of my favorite people ever, even though — or maybe partly because — neither one of them likes to cook. But they both love to eat, so I get to express my devotion, my gratitude, my love, my little sisterhood, my best-friendship, and my unwavering appetite with trays of homemade-noodled lasagna and huge pots of gumbo. If I wasn't there, they would have had Stove-Top stuffing with their store-cooked turkey.

One of the guests brought Rice-A-Roni. I'm not a snob. While Mookie cored two more peppers, I got that going and scoured their refrigerator for doctorings (carrots, asparagus, a tomato, fake sausage links, and leftover chickpeas). We stuffed the peppers with the San Francisco treat, mixed with all of the above, and put them on the grill with the others. Main course: mushroom burgers. And I had not figured out a way to get bacon into the cranberry things, so he could have that too.

Well, the vegetarian looked about as happy as anyone else at the table. "Hey Mookie! He likes it!" But this was supposed to be a poem, and it had turned into bad television.

For almost all of November I'd been trying to write a song about being a dirty girl on the low road. Which wasn't working, probably because I'm too fucking angelic.

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