I extricated myself from Molly’s grasp and took a step back. In front of me was a picture of stunning beauty and utter ridiculousness. Her hair was the same murky blonde as mine but that’s where the similarities ended. Her face was covered in a fine dusting of make-up, subtle but obvious. She had on a pink track suit but it was obvious that it had been ironed. I blinked rapidly, trying to get the perfume stink out of my eyes. I absentmindedly rubbed a smear of make-up off my cheek.
“You look just like your pictures!” she exclaimed after a long silence.
“Who else would I look like?” I asked, seriously. I never understood why people were surprised that people looked like pictures of themselves.
“Oh, you’re so silly! Come on up, the elevator is broken so we’ll have to take the stairs.” She seemed unhappy at the prospect. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
Molly chattered the entire way to the top pausing only to hear my mumbled answers to her questions. Yes, this was my first time in San Francisco. Yes, this was in fact my first time traveling anywhere outside of Windhaven. No, Windhaven doesn’t have a nightclub. Why would it have a nightclub? It’s principle business was an accountancy agency. Accountants don’t frequent nightclubs. Yes, it snows in the winter and gets kind of hot in the summer. No, I’ve never seen a bear.
We got to Molly’s apartment, 12B. Each floor had four apartments, A through D. They were unusually large. A quick glance around told me that her apartment was bigger than the entire second story of mom’s house. I didn’t think apartments could be that big. I was always told that apartments were obscenely tiny because only poor people lived in apartments and that they didn’t need that much space.
“The other bedroom is in the back, last door on the right.” Molly’s chipper voice snapped me out of my thoughts. I quickly made my way to the door and nervously peered inside. I had never been inside another person’s home before, with the exception of Henry’s home on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The room contained a bed, a nightstand and a desk. A bathroom was attached to the wall opposite the large window. There didn’t seem to be any way to get to the bathroom other than through the main room. My own bathroom, another first. This whole nonsense seemed to be full of firsts. I noted that the spartan furnishings, lack of wall coverings, and plain drapes covering the window were exactly what made a room inviting to me. I was sure someone (likely Henry) told Molly that I couldn’t stand decorated rooms. The rest of the apartment was covered in some sort of bizarre artwork. Spirals, bright colors and images of the surreal flowed from every orifice. This room was a stark departure from the rest of the house. I didn’t think it was a coincidence.
“Take a load off and come out here,” I heard Molly call from the living room “I’m making guacamole!”
I hastily tossed my backpack onto the bed and walked to the kitchen. I was suddenly in the middle of a wall of an overpowering odor. Mom never cooked with anything other than salt and pepper and I didn’t remember eating much of any vegetable that didn’t grow in our garden. “Guaca-mo-lay?” I asked, perplexed.
“Guacamole. Tortilla chips. You’ve never had guacamole?” Molly seemed more confused than I was. “Well, I don’t claim to be the master but people tell me my cooking is OK.” She set a large bowl of green sludge on the dining room table. It had orange bits and yellow bits and it smelled like fruity vegetables. I cautiously approached the bowl and sniffed the air. The smell was overpowering but it wasn’t unpleasant.
“What am I supposed to do with it?” I asked. It looked far too gooey to simply eat with my hands but I didn’t see any utensils anywhere. I was starting to wonder if Molly had utensils at all. In mom’s house there were only three sets and when grandma passed away, we only kept two sets. Mom didn’t like dirty things piling up in sinks.
“Oh good LORD,” Molly playfully chided. I felt my cheeks flush with embarrassment. “You take a chip like this, and dip it in. Then you eat it like so.” In one swift motion, she grabbed a chip, filled it with the semi-liquid substance, and then shoved it in her mouth. “See,” she said in between bites, “Easy peasy!”
“OK then.” I said, preparing myself mentally for the procedure. I carefully mimicked Molly’s actions and managed to get the chip halfway to my mouth before sending a shower of goo all over the front of my sweatshirt. “Son of a fuck,” I sputtered “Now I’ve made a goddamned mess!”
“No no no no no,” Molly came to the rescue with a napkin, “It’s OK. Try again and don’t worry about your sweatshirt, we have a washer and dryer in here.”
After a few minutes of obsessive napkin blotting, I attempted the procedure again. I managed to get the chip into my mouth without spilling anything. The cacophony of tastes hit me like a semi truck. There were sweet flavors and spicy flavors and some sort of buttery texture flavor. I chewed slowly, not believing what my taste buds were telling me. I closed my eyes and let myself get lost in the moment. Food had never made me feel so alive.
“Is it good?” Molly had quickly become an expert at getting me to re-focus.
“I...uh...I suppose it is.” I managed. I realized then that I had no idea what good food really was like. That’s not to say that mom didn’t do a fine job of making meals but at that point I wondered why all of her cooking had been unbelievably dull. I successfully repeated the process a few more times before finally asking, “What exactly is in this stuff?”
“Oh nothing too fancy. Just avocados, mangoes, some peppers and spices. Pretty simple, really.” I was fairly sure I knew what peppers were but everything else was foreign to me.
“I could eat this for the rest of my life,” I said in between mouth fulls.
“This is just the tiniest tip of the iceberg,” Molly smiled. I wondered how she could smile so easily. “We’ll go out exploring tomorrow and I’ll show you some REAL food!”
What could possibly more real than guacamole?
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