Thursday, September 30, 2010

D.I.Y. Torpor

Here's a personal headline that meant a great deal to me this morning:


You see, I had used up the last of the peach jam that had sustained me for a couple of months. I entered the pantry in deep culinary suspense. What did I have warehoused on a back shelf? I reached in.

Black cherry!

Hats Off to the Man in the White Suit
Literature is how black cherry jam entered my life. A few years ago I was re-reading Tom Wolfe's classic collection of New Journalism, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965).

Toward the end I came across one of his wonderful New York City profile pieces. It's called "A Sunday Kind of Love." Wolfe, the wearer of white suits and the owner of the most manic and keenly insightful prose style in America, tells a simple story. It's how a friend has enthusiastically spoken of the way he spends his Sundays in a cramped, rather trashy "nothing" Chelsea apartment with his girl friend. The best part is the food they share on p. 250:

"Anne would make scrambled eggs, plain scrambled eggs, but it was a feast. It was incredible. She would bring out a couple of these little smoked fish with golden skin and some smoked oysters that always came in a little can with ornate lettering and royal colors and flourishes and some Kissebrot bread and black cherry preserves, and then the coffee...George would tear off another slice of Kissebrot and pile on some black cherry preserves and drink some more coffee and have another cigarette, and Anne crossed her legs under her terrycloth bathrobe and crossed her arms and drew on her cigarette, and that was the way it went..."

George sums up: "It was the torpor boy. It was beautiful. Torpor is a beautiful, underrated thing. Torpor is a luxury..."

Well, how often can you chase torpor, that lazy state of crawl under the covers to seek reassuring numbness,  all for under $10, no pharmaceuticals involved. I bought the black cherry jam (not "preserves", but close enough) and I saved it for a special day.

This Just In...
This morning I was eating news rather than reading or listening to it. And the news is that black cherry jam is a really fine thing. Although it won't take you all the way to torpor (I think a companionable other in terrycloth is the other essential key ingredient), it's a start.

Luxury resides in my hand and heads toward my lips, teeth, and tongue. And I won't forget the coffee. - V.W.

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