The Drama Chef

Prose – Travel – Recipes

Tag: short stories

Just propose Girls!

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I don’t understand the prevailing assumption that all women dream of the day someone finally proposes and know what their wedding dress will be from the age of 4. I don’t understand why the majority of women that do want to get married just sit around and wait for their partner to make the big move, hinting – at best – their wishes. Diamont rings, rose petals and champagne glasses, dinners at expensive restaurants, sunsets, kneeling down and violins playing, tears of happiness. Oh, the happiest day of our lives girls. Or is it?

Getting married is a huge, life-changing decision for both parties. The general admonition that the man is always the one that is responsible to make such a decision unilaterally, by posing in essence an ultimatum, is extremely unfair and sexistic. It hurts both men and women.

Society puts all the presure of “popping the question”  on men: they have to decide when to ask and how, they have to find a ring, it has to be romantic, if it’s too early she will be indimitated, if it’s taking too long she’ll think you don’t want her enough. In the meantime, women are only allowed a small role at the finale, in saying the big yes or the small no. Asking your partner to marry you if you are a woman will be seen as desparate, pushy, akward, shameful and vastly a no-go. In what it is supposed to be a union of equals, this seems rather like starting off on the wrong foot.

Don’t you feel the injustice? Because it burns me deep. We are supposed to sit around like prizes on our self, being nice and quiet and cute, not too overwelming, not to pasionate, mother figures before we even conceive. If we are good girls, if we just smile and wait, we’ll get the big prize: a ring on our finger, a white dress and the satisfaction of being a married woman. By the way, do you often hear the term married man used in the same way of marking social accomplishment? It even sounds a little funny, right? That’s because in the social arena, men are accomplished through their careers, through their achievements, through their individuality. On the contrary, a woman will only be good enough in the eyes of society if she gets married and breeds happy, healthy children. If she dares have a career, we will target her as an indifferent mother. If a woman does not marry, she’s a springster, a sad, lonely, hysterical creature that lost the train of reproduction. If a man does not marry, he is a bachelor and no matter his age he will be still eligible to find a partner/ have kinds/ avoid social seclusion.

Break the circle of injustice girls: just propose! If you feel that you really want to marry, don’t hint it, don’t push it, don’t just sit around and wait. Ask him first. If you are too indimitated to ask straightforwardly, if you don’t want to use the big ultimatum, do discuss your wishes like adults, like equals. Because you are, you must be. We are not talking prince charming and white horses and castles here, this is real life. And if you want to share yours with this specific person, you should be able to tell him you want to, without being afraid. This is going to be your life partner, for better and for worse and you should be open and honest to each other, if you want this to really work.

I know it’s difficult, I know it’s stressful, I know it may feel weird. Because I have done it too. And we agreed that if and when we decide to marry, it will be a mutual, equal, adult decision. But if I decide to propose first, out of the blue, he asked me for a diamond ring and a bouquet of red roses. For real. 😛

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Strawberry Coconut Parfaits

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This is Part III of Erica’s short story (Part I; Part II).

“Pass me the scones darling. Ted, don’t you hear me? The scones!” I gave her the white plate with the reindeer decorations with an awkward smile. “You don’t like them? I can make you something else” she said. I nodded no and started eating. The sooner this festive breakfast would come to an end, the better. Dad was not talking for a while now, avoiding eye contact with a generic soft smile on his lips. I was sure he wished he could be somewhere else too. I wondered where. Sally and Mom where talking gleefully, what will Santa bring this year, did you like the Cookies darling?

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Christmas. Our sad plastic tree on the corner, lit with electric lights, the ornaments scratched and outdated. Red candles on the table, stars on the napkins, glitter everywhere. Dressed in our nice clothes that didn’t fit properly anymore. Carrols on the radio. Boredom. Forced joy. Presents. Crowds in the malls. Red and golden and silver. Women with too much makeup. Men drinking too much and laughing too hard. Happy families. Kids with pink cheeks and santa bonnets. Give me a break.

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First snow in Vaud

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“How old is she?” “83 or 84, I can’t really remember anymore.” “And she lives alone up there, all alone?” “For more than 20 years now, right after the divorce with her second husband. She rented out her flat in Lausanne, she gave away most of her clothes and furniture, took 2 suitcases, 2 trains and there she was, at the village of her childhood summers.” The train is sliding around the vineyards that are soaked in rain; yellow leaves still linger on the vines. Not for much longer now. Dreamy châteux now and then, below dark cloudy skies.

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The smell of coffee, the silence of the wagon on an early Saturday morning. Old passengers reading through trashy free-press, paper bags of croissants, the smell of capucinnos dusted with cocoa powder. Swiss train life. The fabric of the seats a bit worn out by the bodies of passengers, hundrends and hundrends every month. We change to another train, they check our tickets again, greeting in French and German, just in case, changing to English if you don’t reply, move or smile. We go through colourful forests, stip hills, bridges, small chalets. Autumn postcards, wherever you look.

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She is waiting for us at the train station. Glasses, woolen scarf and matching bonnet, heavy brown coat, winter boots lined with fur. Unchanged and steady, the woman I used to thread as a kid. She gives her hand to Paul first, bonjour, echantée monsieur, all the kind words she has been performing all her life. She looks at me with an examining eye, scanning my clothes, my hair, my posture. In the end she smiles and hugs me, a short hug, a little tight and tender-to my surprise. Age must be softening her up. We walk to the chalet following a path at the banks of the small river I used to splash in as a kid. She doesn’t talk much, she’s walking ahead, Paul is glancing at me, I smile and make faces to him. We arrive.

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Chanterelles Sausage Risotto

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I used to walk every day during the lunch break. After eating out of my tupper, in front of my computer screen, trying to avoid the boring discussions with colleagues in the cafeteria and the standard gossiping about each other’s lifes. I’d put on my coat, button it up carefully, brush my hair a bit, refresh my lipstick and walk out of the dark concrete building.

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I’d walk aimlessly by the river’s banks, staring at the fallen autumn leaves, at kids being forcefed by nanies and grammas, or surprisingly young mothers. Sometimes, I’d have a coffee sitting outside, enjoying the rare and much-welcomed rays of sun at an otherwise foggy November, almost purring like a cat. Almost.

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At the good days, I’d walk until the farmers’ market, at the town’s centre. Piles of vegetables and fruits, local cheese production, flowers. Sparrows flying allover, stealing cheese whenever they got the chance, at the rage of the sellers. Most of the times I’d just have a look, not buying anything I’d have to bring back to office. But every autumn, the fresh mushroom picked up from the region’s misty forests would win me over. Colours and textures. My favourite were the chanterelles, elegant golden wavy umbrellas. It was impossible to resist them. I’d hide them in the depths of my bag, along with pieces of notes, used tickets and old chewing gum.

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Spinalonga

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“The good old times, they say. When people were dinning under candle light, marrying once for ever after, had no mobile phones or computers. The good old times, when they had no antibiotics, vaccines, access to education, information. But I guess that’s not such a romantic thought now, is it?” he said, looking at Spinalonga approaching us, as the small ship was happily sailing, full of tourists. The tiny island floated on the zephyr sea of Crete. Small houses in the colour of sand, surrounded by a high wall. A fortress on the highest point, some pine trees too, breaking the monotony of the golden colour of dust. It looked like an abandoned resort, charming, quiet, exclusive. Difficult to grasp that it used to be the exile island of the damned.

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Summer of expats

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The moment I enter the plane, I feel free. It’s like the heavy burden of all the winters of my life is lifted from my shoulders. The gray clouds that darken my head evaporate, the fog that covers my emotions disappears, my dormant blood starts pumping in my veins again. My skin becomes crisp and joyful, my eyes regain their sparkle, my voice gets louder, my hands move in big rounds again while I speak. Motion and life return to me, the civilised neutral mask I wear at work, while going to take the train or doing the grocery shopping, breaks into a million dark pieces and falls on the floor like dust. I’m me again, as I left me back home last summer, I am picking it up from there, as if another year hasn’t passed, as if it was just a gray, brief moment that is gone forever.

Summer people. Sand. Wind. Sea. Blue. The waves and the salt, the dry yellow crisp grass, the smell of pine trees in the sun, music floating in the air. Barefoot again. On the burning sand, on the grass, on the hot concrete, on the wet stones. Sun cream. Ice cubes in café-frapé. Beer bottles with slices of lemon stuck up their necks. Octopus. Burned shoulders shinning on white hard hotel sheets. Flip-flops that will barely survive this summer and will blister your toes. Small boats flying over blue, blue waves. Blue. Again and again and again. The first day I go swimming after a whole long year, I run and jump in the sea, I kiss the water, I drink a bit too. It burns my throat, my eyes tear, I am home, I am home.

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Swimming in Bern

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I come out of the train in Bern, the warm air hits my face. People run around me holding groceries and suitcases, pushing kid’s strollers or eating a sandwich on the way to their train. It’s been unaturally warm in Switzerland on the last days of August; most people look fed up with the heat. I love it.

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Vejer de la Frontera

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A high green hill, covered with small white houses. The road going up is narrow and full of turns. It got even narrower when we got at the village, the car’s side mirrors almost touching the houses’ walls. Houses which were painted white, forming a labyrinth. Gardens full of flower pots, blasting with colour, hidden behind blue and green doors. Palm trees at the main square, a mosaic fountain decorated with frogs. Arabic coffee and pastries.

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Erica’s Lemon Pancakes

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part I is here: Erica’s Strawberry-Vanilla Jam

She was working as a translator. Grew up in France, then moved to Spain, then Germany, now Scotland. Never met her father, her mother here and there, they don’t talk anymore. Her teeth didn’t show when she smiled. She had 7 beauty spots on her right shoulder and 3 on her left palm. She hated dogs and loved lemon pancakes.

She talked to me. She really talked to me like if I was an adult, for the first time in my life. She gave me books and CDs, she chose the movies we watched. I was holding her hand in the dark, she was grabbing my ass in the elevator. It was too good to last.

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In all colours memoriam

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All men are equal, but some men are more equal than others.

I reach for his hand, I hold it tight in mine. He turns to me and smiles, the same old smile full of tenderness. I want to carress his cheeck, I want to kiss his lips. But I don’t. Holding his hand is enough. Smiling to him is enough. Let’s not push this.

The toughest part is when I haven’t seen him for a while. Waiting at the airport arrivals, twisting my umbrella in my hands. He comes out, I wanna jump and kiss him, I wanna hug him tight, I wanna tell him how much I love him, how I missed him. I bite my lips hard, I bleed. We shake hands speechless instead. In the tram, my shoulder trembles when I touch his.

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The rock of Gibraltar

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Let me take you somewhere you have never been before. Up on a rock which stands next to the sea, green and magnificent. No, we are not alone here and we’re just uninvited guests. That’s their home and we’re intruding, so be kind and quiet. But beware, for they like to harass you when you least expect it, jump on your back, pull your hair and steal your jacket or your camera. This is the rock of Gibraltar, their rock, and they’ll do what they want.

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Double Potato Fritters for One

IMG_3384He used to send her flowers at work. Every Monday morning a bouquet would arrive, no card. Sometimes they were lilies, sometimes daisies or lilacs. Never roses. She remembered a small bouquet of red tulips, on her birthday. And a basket of sunflowers after their first holiday together. She would keep them in her office for the week, in the same crystal vase an old client has brought her. Until the next Monday, when the new ones would arrive. Week by week, bouquet by bouquet, months were passing, and the cleaning man was smiling every Friday night at the sight of the new flowers, slowly fading at the corner of her desk.

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Under Swiss skies

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“You know, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t quit my job. The pregnancy came as a surprise, and I wanted to keep her, but I shouldn’t have quit”. Pause. She is smoking, staring at the lake. The beer is getting warm on the table, birds are singing in the background, the sun reflects on the lake. I am sitting next to her, I am staring at her profile, at her eyes that are restlessly moving, barely ever meeting mine. Our shoulders meet, it’s the first time our bodies touch for so long; she did not move, I did not either. The very first time I feel her warmth.

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