This morning seems pleasant somehow. Opening the blinds this morning, the muted sunshine seemed welcome. The world seemed quiet, even serene. I’ve gone about my business since, productively as it turns out, in one of those treasured grooves when the mind is clear, and the things to be done are ticked off with little fuss and a modulated precision.
It’s coming up on 10am as I write this, and despite having completed a nice pile of work, I’m not yet properly dressed. There are days like that when you seem to glide past that stage and straight into it. You don’t mean it necessarily – you think, I’ll just look at that before I get myself sorted out. And then you look at ‘that’ and make a call and act on that and without thinking move on to the next thing wearing nothing more than an old and very untidy pair of tracksuit pants. Even that’s ok, it’s a pleasant temperature and, as they say, when you’re on a good thing, stick to it.
This morning comes after a pleasant evening in Melbourne on a balmy night. I met the girl I wrote of some time ago, the girl I thought I might like, only to hear that she had an ex crowding in on the scene. I’ll call her the editor. In any case, after some consideration, I managed to inveigle my way back in with her, and we’ve seen movies together, and last night dinner.
We went to the new Argentinean restaurant in town, San Telmo. It’s a hip, groovy place to be, a great fit-out in Meyers Place (a top address) in what used to be book storage (I believe). Being Argentinean, the food is meat-based, and good meat at that. I love my meat, and I don’t mind being groovy, and I certainly enjoy the company of attractive, intelligent women, so I was delighted to be there.
I was early. I had a beer at the back bar while I scribbled some notes in the black book I carry around with me. I jotted down some ideas for e-books and a few notes on some proposed websites while I sipped on an excellent Galician lager. Then she was there by my side, petite and smiling, a quick kiss and then how about a drink?
The meal was terrific. I had the best empanadas I’ve ever had, and humita, and some ceviche for starters. Then it was the main course – I had the hanger steak, she had the short ribs, with a selection of sides. Both were excellently flavoured. As you do, we drank a lovely Malbec (Broquel 2008) to go along with it. Then dessert
I have a fierce sweet tooth. I love my sweets. And I’d read and knew anyway that you can’t really walk out of a place like this without trying the flan de dulce de leche. Fucking shits all over a creme caramel.
The intensity of flavour in this was almost sexual. If I wasn’t going to get laid last night, then this was the next best thing. On top of the flan was the thick, gooey caramel toffee that tasted a little ever so deliciously of burnt butter. Around the flan were beautifully crunchy peanuts ground into a sticky toffee. We shared it between us, making all the noises we might have made otherwise.
It was still reasonably early when we left, and we simultaneously agreed that a sticky wine would go down well now. We made our way to Siglo again. We found a seat on the terrace and sat down facing the spotlit facade of the Victorian parliament, and more distant the spires of St Patrick’s cathedral. It was cooler than previous nights, but the sky clear even in the darkness. Around us sat a selection of civilised Melbourne enjoying a glass of good wine with friends beneath the open sky. The waitress came to us, a tall, blonde French woman who recommended a new Muscadelle from France to try. We agreed to that, and the night continued.
We had one sticky, then another. Our conversation ranged from the intellectual to the intimate. We briefly found ourselves in conversation with the arty types opposite who turned out to be former recipients of the Rome artistic fellowship.
I looked at her: I thought she was very cute. She’s small: petite is the right word and very feminine with it. She has big eyes, a delicately boned, pretty face, and her hair – some variant on blonde – was pulled back into a tight ponytail. She’s also a smart, interesting woman, a book editor who is doing her PhD in psychology, which is what she’ll end up doing, she thinks. She has opinions, which I was pleased to engage with. For most of the night, the discussion was strong, the conversation never flagged. Often times our talk was of things outside of us, current affairs, economics, culture; many times, we found ourselves laughing at the same silly things, and occasionally the conversation became intimate as we veered into the more personal. I was surprised at how candid she was, but then I think she trusted me and enjoyed where our conversation led. It’s always nice to meet someone who can talk as well as you do.
We parted at about 11. At home, it occurred to me that maybe 5 years ago, I’d have looked at her thinking she is the kind I would be married to – attractive, smart, sexy, engaged in life, and with a pleasantly sensual streak. Why not now then, I thought? I puzzled at that. I realised eventually that that married life was presumed upon us sharing a happy and comfortable groove together, a groove, I think, that I have, sometime in the last 5 years, removed myself from. As if I have moved into a different stage of life unknowingly, leaving such things behind.
In any case, it was all just empty thought. Officially the ex is still on the scene, though clearly, she enjoys my company. I wonder at it, but, though tempted, I don’t ask. Let her tell you H, I think when the time is right – if ever. What it means, though, is that while I remain great company, I think there is an element missing from me. I’m scurrilous and teasing sometimes, but also the polite and urbane gentleman. I would love to be more expressive, to introduce to our encounters that side of me more sensual, hungry. For now, though, that dog has to stay on the chain.
- Argentinean Homemade Flan (Custard) (evadanielaskitchen.com)