Origin stories are never as clean in real life. If a teenager today got bit by a radioactive spider and survived, he probably wouldn’t develop super powers and become a crime fighter, but he’d be the first male in his family not to get pancreatic cancer; he would devote his life to having doctors and pharmaceutical lobbyists refuse to take his pamphlets as he screams “my blood is fortified with spider immunity, but all the blood that isn’t will be on your hands, sir!”
All of your heroes, in real life, would be cameos in a Michael Moore film to make him appear more lucid.
I didn’t always have a passion for food writing, or even for food. I was a fat kid; other fat kids understand; this is all I want to say on that at this time. A few years ago, I worked in Silicon Valley and hated it, to a point where I was encouraged to remote in full-time so as not to be a vector of negativity for other employees. The hours were long, the products were frivolous, and over a long enough timeline, your managers come to hate you for the very reasons they hired you in the first place.
In 2013, right as I was leaving tech, I found myself in an isosceles triad with a journalist and an illustrator who both lived in San Francisco; two are us were really really smitten with the third and tried to base our own relationship on that, which gives you one, maybe two really hot sexual encounters before it swings open and what was once holding hands at Christmas becomes seeing the same person come in as you’re leaving your therapist’s office every week and making a point not to speak, lest you undo all the progress you’ve just made convincing yourself that you’re getting better and this can work.
They both loved food, and working at major tech companies in San Francisco, had the access, on which I was keen to piggyback. Tea with smoked duck overlooking the SF skyline; sushi boat pileups; a bed covered in butcher paper, with a girl tied down and slowly tickled by the twirling and dragging of Mongolian beef on her bare skin. It was great, until it wasn’t, as triads tend to be; I’m a hedonist not because I don’t believe true love exists, but because a house of cards will come down no matter how many hearts you use. Attack every relationship with enthusiasm; love early, love often; make an orderly line for the exists when the sprinklers go off.
I ghosted them and gave up on finding a job in the kitchen, which had become my way of sort of problem-solving the class gap in the relationship. I became a writer, I pretended not to notice either of them in public, and stop cooking, save for the occasional catering gig to make the rent.
I met Kitty, my wife, in 2014. She was a tireless supporter of my writing from day one, before we had even started dating. By now I was trying to make it as a games writer (because I don’t like anime and cat ears look weird on me) and offered to show her a tour of the Pinball Museum, where I worked, to show gratitude for supporting me on Patreon.
I didn’t know it was a date until she had me pressed up against Seawitch, her lipstick spitefully trying to impress itself on my $30 Sephora lipstain. We had ramen and she chain-smoked while quizzing me on how comfortable I was with having someone else use a straight razor on me.
Good things come to those who wait; when I was 16 I dreamed of one day finding a dominant femme partner who loved molotov cocktails, champagne and making me wear her clothes. Good things come to those who wait! Because when Kitty and I first met, I was her third partner and she was my second. There were times when we only saw each other once or twice a month at the most; I would have to settle for meeting her on lunch breaks or coming over to help with household repairs.
And I know I often seem cool in regards to my marriage when compared to loudly proclaiming I want to lick someone’s navel on a twitter the people who oversee my internship can read. There aren’t a lot of love songs where someone’s with their girlfriend for a couple years, experiences every possible affliction and tribulation that would otherwise disrupt your relationships, and then realizes “holy shit, my love for this person would probably survive a nuclear Armageddon and endless Maroon 5 tribute bands”.
When Kitty told me I should try pursuing a food writing career, on the back patio of a tiki bar in Oakland, we had collectively experienced like 8 breakups between us, had social media campaigns try to convince one or both of us to leave the bay or kill ourselves, and the publicity fallout of being the most visible employees of a radical feminist magazine that had its funder pull out in the middle of the night and put about a dozen people out of a job.
And I said I’ll give it a try, because when someone who’s walked right off an award show red carpet to be greeted with the news of your suicide attempt (and then still talks you down and tells you it’s okay) and doesn’t leave you, you accept that this person knows you, in ways you don’t necessarily know yourself.
I owe a lot to my wife; that’s not why I married her. But by all accounts, getting married should be terrifying; holding her hands next to a city hall Christmas tree while a man with a mustache was forced to hear us quote the Beatles and Mad Max in our vows, I felt a crawling in me. But it wasn’t the crawling of nerves or fear, but rather the final form of the armor we have employed through our time together to weather an inhospitable world. It was very form fitting!
We have very different food needs; I drink moscow mules and eat Korean supermarket snacks while an organic chicken braises in the oven, relishing in a bath of caramelized onions, bacon, cabbage, and mustard. I do it for her, because I love her and I want her to have a substantial meal before her boyfriend comes over and they fuck which I have been informed is now double-super-likely because she shaved her legs.
A house of cards you build might fall apart, but maybe when it does it’ll shoot your card out and you’ll end up in a lifepath you love a lot more. I guess it depends if it was knocked over with wind or under its own weight.
I don’t know. I’ve been drinking.
The chicken is done. I think it came out okay, if a little uneven; the package was like one big thigh and two very little thighs, so I had to keep adjusting the levels of liquid in the pan while it roasted. It’s still within the first two weeks of the new year; I feel comfortable insisting to myself that my resolution this year will be to buy more whole carcasses and not just the parts.
Author: Jetta Rae
Founder of Fry Havoc. Can be found on twitter at @jetta_rae