While perusing the amazing Smitten Kitchen cookbook this fine morning I happened to flip to the acknowledgments at the back. And there was the name of one of my dearest friends and favorite people on the planet.
Can I tell you how ridiculously proud I am of her? I knew she had done some recipe testing for the book (because she is made of awesome), but it was still a complete pleasure to see the name of someone that I love so much in print in a New York Times Bestseller.
A is an amazing cook and baker-in fact she’s a pastry chef by profession. She sent some of that granola Deb referenced to me after C was born. If I didn’t know her better I’d be sure that it contained some sort of very addictive controlled substance. Because who the fuck waxes rhapsodic about granola? Um, anyone who has tasted hers. But beyond her mad skills in the kitchen is the fact that she is good people-kind, hilarious, smart, loyal, a hell of a lot of fun to get drunk with. And that brings me to a little story I’d like to tell you about A and her equally awesome husband M.
A number of Decembers ago, back when Z and I still lived in Brooklyn, A and M received heartbreaking news. A small group of us gathered at a bar around the corner from their apartment to surround them with love and support. After a few hours Z went home because he needed to work the next morning. I’m not a big drinker, or a very good drinker, or a great time when I drink. I can’t hold my liquor, I get drunk fast and then I need to get horizontal.
Years ago someone I knew was talking about a mutual acquaintance and she said, “You know, she’s the kind of friend that held my hair back as I puked in college after drinking and I did the same for her.” I looked at my friend and said, “No, I don’t know.” I was boring in college. I held no one’s hair as they puked. There was a single incident where a kind friend made sure I had a garbage can by my bed after dropping me off, but that was sort of it. Pretty pathetic, huh?
Z told me he thought it was a bad idea for me to stay. But I hurt for my friends, I wanted to be there for them, I brushed his advice off and told him I’d see him at home. Not too long after that I was out front smoking, A was keeping me company. We were at Soda Bar on Vanderbilt to set the stage for those of you who know Prospect Heights in Brooklyn. It was crowded, a Friday night, not even very late and suddenly I was puking in the gutter directly in front of the door. I couldn’t even get it together to move down the block towards some relative privacy. Even though I was in my late 20s I had transformed into that undergrad, the one you roll your eyes at but excuse because of her extreme youth. Turning into that girl when you are actually a decade too old to be her is just sad.
A and M were the ones that needed taking care of that night, I was a flaming asshole and a shitty friend for getting so drunk and sick, but they jumped into action for me. They lived a couple of blocks away, and I insisted I’d make it in a car service to my place just fine, but they knew better. Somehow they got a car to the bar quickly and hustled me inside. I immediately started heaving again. A calmly fished a wad of plastic bags out of her pocket (they were dog owners) and passed them over to me so I wouldn’t puke all over myself. The driver started yelling that I better not mess up his car and again A was the picture of calm. She told him I wasn’t sick, which we all understood was a lie, but somehow it made the guy keep driving.
Um, it gets pretty hazy from there on out. I have no memory of getting to my building, have no idea how A and M got my keys off of me, don’t remember the elevator ride or entering my apartment or making my way to the bathroom where someone (A? M? Z?) made a nest of pillows and blankets. I spent the rest of the night in there dry heaving my guts out.
Z was so mad at me. He was right to be, I’m completely ashamed of myself when I remember that night, how could I have been such a selfish jerk? A and M were rock stars about it. They never made me feel bad, A even told me I provided a distraction for them. Yeah, a horrible, inconvenient, rude distraction….
Evidently Z was in bed, dead to the world when the three of us stumbled into the apartment. A must have led me to the bathroom because M had the undesirable task of entering his friend’s bedroom and shaking him awake. “Zeke. Everything is alright,” he started before launching into the explanation. As Z freaked out at me the next day he said to me, “There is nothing alright about waking up to M standing over me to tell me my wife is passed out drunk in the bathroom!” He might have been right about that, but I think M was just making a valiant effort to put a positive spin on the whole mess.
So yes, this is both a cautionary tale about being my friend (sorry yet again A & M-and thanks for still talking to me) and a celebration of the lovely A. She deserves every bit of wonderfulness that comes her way. My wish for you all is that you have a friend who will help you when you are drunk off your ass in public, make you amazing granola, and listen to all your secrets. But seriously, back off. I’ve got dibs on A.
And hey folks, go buy the Smitten Kitchen cookbook! It is amazing. As is the website, which I’m sure you know unless you’ve been living under a rock. A bunch of her recipes are standards in my kitchen. Her photography is inspiring and the amazing part is she is self taught both with a camera and as a cook.