Saturday, August 17, 2013

Indigestion, a work of culinary fiction


Oh, hi everyone. It's been a while. A year or so, in fact. (My oh my, where do the days go?)
I've been pretty busy with this and that and the other so I've let this blog slide, and for that, I apologize. (Sue me.) Today I've finally decided to post again for a few reasons, the main one being that I have to transcribe an hour-long interview so I'm procrastinating like crazy (it's the only part of this biz I absolutely hate.) But if I'm being honest (and I hope I am), the main reason I'm posting is that I want to share something with you. A few pages of my yet-to-be published book, a work of culinary fiction called Indigestion.

Here's the story (in a nutshell) of why I'm sharing the opening pages of my book here. I've got an agent, and she's a great one, too. She sold this book waaay back in 2008, based on the first three chapters. There was even talk of a multi-book deal. Alas, while I was writing away, the bottom fell out of the economy, my publishing house went bankrupt and so my agent went to work selling it again. There were close calls with big American publishers, talk of movie deals, promised contracts, but alas, in 2013 the face of publishing has changed so much so that the rules are fluid. So I've taken back my manuscript and plan to be a shining example (or cautionary tale) of what publishing a book can be 2013.

This is step #1. If you like these opening pages, please share them with your friends in high places. (Warning, there is some smut in the book, but over 25 fab recipes too!) Please comment below or email me your opinion of what you think my next steps should be. If you don't like what you read, that's fine. I get it. (There's no accounting for taste.) But if you do, put out the word and ask for more. I could go the eBook route, serialize it in a magazine or maybe even try my luck with Indiegogo.

We'll just have to wait and see. For now, please enjoy the antics of our heroine Ruthie Cohen (who is not Amy Rosen), in the opening scenes of Indigestion...(Lower the lights...cue Ruthie...)


Chapter One
THE $62,873.42 QUESTION
This story begins with me, Ruthie Cohen, slogging away in an open concept office tower that's a shade of green not found in nature. The building itself: grey, sloped, glass, is the architectural equivalent to a slap in the face, while the people working within it can best be described as Smurfs.
I should talk. I’m just another little blue dude in a toque.
We’re all working at Telecorpmedia on contract for a big-name DVD directory, which they say will be “the authoritative guide to the movies from A-Z, with insight, analysis, plus all of the insider Hollywood dirt!” The thing is, we’re all in Toronto, none of us knows anyone in Los Angeles, and, I’m fairly certain that Greg over there, the one with his finger up his nose, can’t even read.
This week I’m skipping around the letter “S” for the directory.
 “SAY ANYTHING”: This poignant comedy contains an iconic scene in which anti-hero Lloyd stands outside brainy beauty Diane's house holding a boom box blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" with a look of quiet desperation. The best of the 1980s romantic teen comedy genre. Dir: Cameron Crowe. C: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor. 1989; 100 m.
It’s basically data entry, but FYI, I’m the best one at it.
“SPLASH”: A funny love affair between man and mermaid. When the finned wonder flip-flops her way into New York to pursue a love interest, the military, and scientist Eugene Levy, , try to get their hands on her, leading to some fishy business. Dir: Ron Howard. C: Daryl Hannah, Tom Hanks, John Candy, Eugene Levy. 1984; 109 m.
Yep, I’m the best one here, which is probably why Keith has offered me a full-time position. He had called me into his cubicle yesterday to discuss “long term employment” for “an increased wage” and a “free Green Bean coffee card”. I told him I’d sleep on it and let him know tomorrow, which is today.
“SHIRLEY VALENTINE”: So you’re stuck in a rut, so bored that the walls have become your best friends. What do you do? Take off to Greece and reinvent yourself like our heroine, who is immediately wooed by a sexy Greek restaurateur. A sun-baked awakening.” Dir: Lewis Gilbert. C: Pauline Collins, Tom Conti, Julia McKenzie, Joanna Lumley. 1989; 160 m.
Just after 5pm, Keith heads me off at the automatic- locking, glass- encased elevator banks. I had snake-crawled past his desk, not wanting to disappoint him by turning down his job offer.
You see; I had disappointed him before.
It’s kind of awkward to talk about because I in no way come out looking good in this scenario, and as a general rule I like to come out on top in my stories. But here goes.
Keith began flirting with me a couple of months after I started working at Telecorpmedia. He had been carefully sizing me up for weeks, as any type-A who prematurely wears reading glasses, would. In the end he correctly deduced that any girl who loves nothing more than being regaled with a good projectile vomit story, probably wasn’t the same sort of girl who would bring sexual harassment charges up against her boss should he ask her out for ice cream.
I only said yes to that first date because, straight up, I was bored. Let’s face it: I was 27 and in a dead-end job. Not a good motivating factor for anything, particularly a date with someone you probably have no interest in. But in this case, at this moment, it was motivation enough. Besides, I really like premium ice cream. I also happened to be inputting a string of movie blurbs that day, most of which featured awesome inter-office trysts (I was working on the letter “J”) so I was feeling a little randy. Again, not the best motivation for dating someone who still wears Top-Siders, but motivation enough.
Our first date is a safe date: A walk down College Street on a sunny Sunday, ending at The Big Scoop. I order a single scoop of peanut butter and chocolate in a cup, which is by far my favourite. Keith chooses a double scoop of tiger stripe with sprinkles in a waffle cone and I am incredibly turned off. We sit in the sunshine on the neon painted Muskoka chairs assembled in a jumble on the sidewalk out front of the ice cream shop, eating and watching as children use their powerful little tongues to dislodge fresh vanilla scoops onto the hot pavement below. There is crying, there is laughter, there are new couples and old marrieds. Everyone loves ice cream. And everyone loves love. “Maybe that could be me and Keith one day,” I think to myself hopefully, as he leaps to the aid of a little blonde girl whose strawberry milkshake is teetering on the brink.
For our second date, Keith tries showing off his alternative side. He reserves tickets for “Boxhead” a one-man show at a rep theatre on Ossington Street. It’s the kind of theatre that doesn’t have a name, let alone a bathroom.
This is how cool you have to be to go there: You actually have to know about it and know someone, and then be confident enough to know that you won’t have to pee during the entire play. And then you have to know enough to head down a back alley at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night, pay your $10 and sit with 49 other people in a square dark room with black risers and try not to cough because the space is so small and silent that you wouldn’t want to disturb the rest of the audience watching the naked man on stage with a cardboard box on his head.
Normally the thoughtful consideration, the weighing of pros and cons that must have gone into organizing such a risqué date would have impressed the pants off of me, just like Boxhead’s. But the way I see it, unless you really like the guy, a date like this one, even with its undeniable moxie factor, usually just ends up being lame.
“What did you think?” Keith nervously asks, following the show.
In other words, four hours later. In other words, worst piece of shit I’ve ever seen.
Poor Keith. He’s visibly shaken. If the play went badly for me, it went doubly so for him. He had a sudden coughing fit around hour three (“First coughing fit of my life,” he later claimed), and by the end of the show he had to pee so badly that he bolted during the climax, missing the part where Boxhead pulls on some white tube socks and starts playing “Blue Moon” on an electric ukulele.
So I decide to be nice. “He had really nice testicles,” I say. “Hardly wrinkly at all.”
For our third date, Keith wisely goes back to playing it safe. We go for mini burgers and cocktails at the rooftop bar at the Kiefer Hotel – really yummy ground sirloin topped with caramelized onions, aged cheddar and a homemade tomato relish hit with grainy mustard and I’m pretty sure, some fresh thyme. Reclining on low-slung couches tossed with Moroccan-themed pillows while drinking frosty mojitos and eating bite-sized burgers under the city stars is enough to put anyone in the mood.
And that’s how I end up at Keith’s apartment.
We drunkenly fool around for hours, even though I tell him right off the bat that sex is out of the question: “Sex is out of the question,” I say while accidentally poking him in the eye (I had been pointing for effect).  So he asks me for a blowjob instead, which is fair enough I suppose, but I’m forced to admit that that’s not in the cards for tonight either. “But I’ll tell you what I will do for you,” I slur, as we stagger onto his futon. “I’ll let you go down on me. That much, I’m willing to concede.” He laughs and tugs at my ponytail and feels me up and then goes down, and, proving that I’m not a total bitch, I finish him off with my left hand.
But I’m no saint either -- I make him sleep on the wet spot.

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