I got so mad at the chicken I roasted I couldn’t even eat it. I started working on it at 2 PM but it wasn’t ready, and out of the oven, until just after 6, right when Lily needed to leave for her concert performance at school, which meant we all had to go, and I had to put the chicken on top of the refrigerator so the dog wouldn’t get to it, and that meant when we got home (after 8) there’d be all the cleanup, the chicken would be cold, the kids would have eaten cookies at the concert, so when we got back I went for the fridge for a beer and sat down, and pouted.
I thought about mincing the garlic and thyme leaves and zesting the lemon for the butter rub I put on the breast, carefully loosening the skin there, how it melted to a soft brown with attractive black spots where the skin got crispy, how I’d brined it for an hour in a sugar and salt soak (and hence part of the reason it took so long), the spring vegetables I arranged around the bottom of the pan, as if some invocation for spring itself: the asparagus, artichoke hearts, shallots and small potatoes I lovingly quartered and tossed in olive oil and sea salt…browned under the broiler while the chicken was resting, but no time for it: instead, off to the school, to hard bleachers in the back, stuck between middle school students bent on talking to one another through me and Dawn, through the row where we sat: dicking around with their phones taking pictures and drawing circles around themselves via some app, my occasional face caught on screen, and not good: stone-faced and pale, a lot of forehead, impossibly old.
Twice, thrice, I offered to Charlotte I could take her home. I saw that as an out. She, so pale and drained by it, the circles pink and purplish under her eyes, leaning into me and Dawn, and back and forth between the two of us taking turns, leaning: I said honey, do you need to go home? Because I could take you RIGHT NOW…but she insisted on staying, for the cookies.
And for as much as I like Classical music, and appreciate the scale of what they were doing, learning to play: the violas and violins, the bass and cello…there was no joy in it for me as I brooded on the chicken, imagining myself going for the fridge and cracking a beer, sitting down, letting go…freed of it, released.
I put the carving board on the floor for the dog before we left and she got it so clean it was dry, it still had some of the bees wax on it I used to condition it, I think…and Dawn and the kids sat at the table stabbing it with their forks, and the girls twirled and recited and reenacted scenes and I just sat off to the side with my beer on my back until it was time for bed, and then read Bukowski, and thought dimly the reason I felt so foul, so deeply upset and irritable was perhaps the fact I hadn’t written in two days, and for that I felt good, it meant I had to.