This was written as I sat crippled in pain-stricken, paracetamol-chomping fatalism with my potential blood clot, potential TB, potential boring- muscle- spasm almost-diagnosis.
I have just this moment rediscovered the existence of this stream-of-consciousness recording of the joy I felt in the unexpected paradise that is the Mater A&E as I headed into hour 20 of an unprecedented fasting. That’s a rollercoaster of a sentence.
We can all surmise how I do when without food for long periods of time: I don’t.
You can imagine the volatile sea of emotion. It also feels wonderfully karmic to share this on what would have been my one month anniversary of pure, hell-for-leather (faux leather, obviously) veganism if I hadn’t had that “extra buttery” croissant this weekend. God damn it, that saleswoman was good.
If you’ve ever wondered how I pass my rare idle moments, this should provide ample insight. I’m sorry. New hobbies pending.
In the A&E I met a hero amongst mortals. Amidst the drunks singing Ave Maria’s in late afternoon revelry, the elderly couples buried under layers of waterproof, germ-proof outerwear, the tattooed, the bombastic, the slumped, the scrolling bored, the tracksuited and big-hooped, there was this Spanish couple. She wore a luminous yellow dress and a patchwork coat of feathered colour. He was drab in navy shirt and jeans. I did not yet see the Hercules hidden in the misleading swathes of shapeless flannel.
Between them was spread a picnic of sorts – brioche rolls, digestives biscuits, fruit, juice cartons. A collection of enviable, saliva-inducing victuals. They had my undivided attention (as anyone in the possession of brioche naturally would). And that is when the magic was made.
He took a brioche roll and tore it in half with the slow peel of his thumb. I watched in rapt apprehension, anticipation. A banana lounged crescent-down and fat over his thigh like a lethargic cat. Good, I thought. Excellent call, I conceded, with lip bit, and gums sweating, sweltering, heady with desire.
Sweet, sticky banana lashed in the soft embrace of buttery brioche. Superb. Superfluously satisfying.
He lifted his hand with the dexterous care and deliberate precision of an artist. But as I watched, this hand of God, this visionary, this limb of wizardry, claw of prophecy ducked through the air, bypassing banana to reach, with calm intent, for the digestives.
No, I thought. He wouldn’t, you couldn’t. It’s too much, surely. Two searching fingers found two rounds of crunchy, chocolate-coated perfection. He was. Indeed, he truly was. He sandwiched them between the glistening sweetbread, layering pastry to biscuit to pastry once more. They stuck out like bold buttocks’ – voluptuous temptresses spilling out and over like sallowed moons.
And then he took the biggest, most satisfying bite I’ve ever seen. As if it was no big deal.
As if butter to butter, sugar to sugar, baked good to baked good was every bit as ordinary, as innately ingrained in cultural norms as hating that Samantha Mumba song because it reminds you of the awful road safety ad.
(That’s an abstract play on the body to body lyric, in case anyone was wondering about my thought progression there).
This is it, I whispered. Here he is. A brave hero among mortals.