Step Away, Walk Away

Sandy calls me from the road.

Sandy: In an hour, I’ve gone three exits. I blame the transit strike.
Tata: Sweetie, you’re in Philadelphia. The transit strike is in New York.
Sandy: I’m stuck in sympathy traffic and I don’t think I’m going to be at your apartment in half an hour ago.
Tata: That’s okay. My batter’s rested and Grandma’s crepe pans are heated to an exact temperature that makes the palm of my hand – held three inches aloft – feel like Mama’s gonna show it to you.
Sandy: You’re out of you mind. You know that.
Tata: Yeah, but I’m making manicotti and no union-busting presidential hopeful and his never-went-without-a-meal mayor are going to stop me!
Sandy: You’re a doofus!
Tata: Am not! Am not…okay, I am…

It’s after 7, and the day has already been long. My day job starts at 7:30 a.m. I get up before six. Last week, the universe gave me a gift in the form of hunky Gilad Janklowitz. In the eighties, I used to get up early and jump up and down four times a week to Gilad’s Bodies In Motion. Last Monday, I found my morning yoga program had been replaced, and the replacement was Gilad’s new resistance training show Total Body Sculpt. I stared at the FitTV logo and murmured, “Um…I didn’t get you anything…”

When I got to the radio station, Bill was playing a song in the small studio. Last time in the small studio, we shared a mic, it was awkward, and the radio signal cut out for about nine minutes. I rearranged the chairs and the weights holding the door open. Bill pointed toward two microphones. He didn’t know which would work. We’re used to working with full and meaningful eye contact. Maybe that’s how other people do radio-give-and-take, maybe not. When the song ended, Bill mentioned the song’s name and I laughed.

Tata: Bill darling, tell them we’re in the small studio.
Bill: We’re usually facing each other but we can’t here.
Tata: So we’re going to play Radio Marco Polo.
Bill: Marco!
Tata: Polo!
Bill: Marco!
Tata: Polo!

We giggled like toddlers in footie pajamas. I do this blabbity-blabbing about forty-five minutes once a week, for brain-fun and for my friend. How professionals do this day in and day out is beyond me. When I go back to my office, my tongue is always tired and my mouth is dry. My co-workers are far too polite to mention my Tuesday carp impressions – either that, or fish mimicry has gained unexpected popularity in pop culture.

By the time Sandy calls, I’ve cracked eighteen eggs in six-egg dishes and added water, added salt to flour and mixed wet and dry ingredients. Then batter rests for half an hour. During this half hour, the cook’s mistakes in the form of little lumps of flour float to the surface. It is tempting to keep beating the lumps, but, like pigeon-toed younger brothers re-beating batters only makes them tougher. Still, I’m not opposed to tormenting my siblings, and after both crepe pans are hot enough, I magically transform from doofus into crepe making machine, and about two hours later, I’ve turned out dozens of crepes in four piles, cleaned up the dishes and tucked everything into the fridge. I am extremely pleased with myself. Miss Sasha calls.

Miss Sasha: I want to bake cakes.
Tata: I don’t suppose there are local laws against it…?
Miss Sasha: Funny! The other day, Gramma must’ve been very bored in Heaven.
Tata: What?
Miss Sasha: Suddenly, my fondant is smooth and my cakes are beautiful! Everything comes together!
Tata: Remember how I used to tell you you never know how what you study will come together? You study ice skating, piano and social sciences, and – BOOM! – one day you’re Secretary of State. I studied the Bible, gymnastics and the label on the scotch bottle, and look at my illustrious career! Stop laughing! Why can’t it make perfect sense that you should bake cakes when at four you complained if my socks clashed?
Miss Sasha: I want to bake wedding cakes.
Tata: Call Grandpa. He studied grammar and basketball with nuns.

Yes, I am beyond stupid. This morning, my hands have Crepe Cramps from gripping pan handles like I was born to it – but hadn’t in a few years. At work, I wear fingerless gloves to stave off the soreness. My department makes the mistake of demanding I attend a teleconference meeting and try talking with grownups. After an hour, everyone knows that I am struggling to remain conscious.

Tata: My horoscope said I would have trouble with words today.

This is followed by sounds of twelve people in three counties trying desperately to stifle themselves. Four fail and snort across county lines. Minutes later, an esoteric point on library vendors and databases gives me stabbing pain behind my eyes.

Tata: This conversation makes me…want to kill myself…

These breathing irregularities should be addressed by a physician. The next time I get confused and no one’s listening, I say, “Points are better communicated with sock puppets.” No one hears me. I slip off my shoe, pull my sock over my left and and squawk.

Tata’s Fist: So I sez to the guy – I sez, I sez –

My co-workers may need antibiotics. It’s an unbelievably long meeting. Half an hour later, the guy sitting next to me says something I object to. My right hand, gloved for warmth, pops up from the armrest.

Tata’s Right Hand: Bark! Bark! Bark bark bark!

My boss pretends to be upset.

Boss: Hey! Put that puppet away!
Tata’s Right Hand: (sulks) Poo!

Tonight: I make sauce.

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