Friday, 8 July 2016


Thanks for the Pro Tip

We are the sole subscribers, the last of the magazine readers. As Ann and I try to navigate the brave new digital world, we’ve noticed that the titles we receive at the Crooked 9 in an untimely manner are increasingly skimpy and that their articles are getting shorter. It seems as if no one publication, with a couple of exceptions, has anything important to impart to us anymore. In-depth stories rarely plumb beyond the surface of their subjects.

I read for pleasure, for knowledge, for information, for distraction, for entertainment. Some ingrained habits are too hard to break. Our magazine rack is a refurbished pine washstand situated just off the kitchen by the back door. I tend to read magazines around 3:30 in the morning after I’ve felt my way along the walls of the night hallway, carpet creeping.

Recently I encouraged Ann to subscribe to bon appetit magazine because the direct mail offer was comparable to gratis. Ann enjoys cooking and I enjoy eating her cooking. And I enjoy being in the kitchen with her, washing and wiping up after her as she goes, the two of us talking and listening to the stereo.

The other night I was on a ramble. Once I’d made it to the fridge I decided on a ham and salami and cheddar on a sliced croissant with a dash of Dijon, oven-heated and served with a side of yesterday’s homemade potato salad. Fresh fruit for dessert. For reading material I chose the July edition of bon appetite because the cover feature was about hot dogs, which for me is akin to Mick and Keith gracing a current newsstand front of Rolling Stone or MOJO (I’m still hooked on the Stones’ Telecaster and verbal riffs after all these years).

Hot dog! And thank you, bon appetite! The table of contents promised something equally intriguing, insight into the world’s most delicious sandwich. The sandwich piece was like a secondary, even slighter article on the Clash, the Who, the Kinks, Dylan or Springsteen in my imaginary Rolling Stones MOJO, bonus reading augmented with beautifully staged food photography. Gosh, who knew that the most delicious sandwich in the world was the good old BLT? And who knew that making BLTs for a group could be a chore? But turn that frown upside down because if everyone in the group has to make their own BLT, why, a party will ensue!

I thought, ‘I never thought of that.’ I turned the page (had to lick my thumb and forefinger) and encountered BLT 101, a sort of a primer. In order to make a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich I would need: bacon, lettuce, tomato, bread and mayonnaise. Whoa. The kitchen stool suddenly seemed vertigo high. I, a lapsed Catholic, realized an empathy with Paul the Persecutor who got knocked to his ass on the dusty road to Damascus by a lightning bolt revelation, an epiphany.

Dumbfounded, I slipped out the back door, sat down on the steps and lit a cigarette. Nocturnal creatures rustled in our leafy flower gardens. Soon, the birds began to chirp and sing their morning territorial songs. Colour rose in the navy sky, an embarrassed pink creeping up from its bottom edge. The air was still, warm and close. I felt I’d been touched by a modicum of grace. I thought, ‘Thank God for magazines.’ And I thought, ‘If I want to make a specific type of sandwich in the middle of the night, a BLT say, it’s probably best to have all the ingredients on hand.’ I’d no idea.

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