Being a muse can be full of surprises sometimes. I thought with my poet it was pretty obvious what I was getting into this time around, marrying a novelist and all. Novelists, as everyone knows, always need muses otherwise they flounder about rather unsuccessfully and die bitter old men. Like old drunk Hemingway. Or was it Faulkner? Must have been Faulkner. Anyhow I was thinking: All right! Easy and clear cut, sweet! I love it. Shoo my honey into his office to “go write your novel now” while off I go with hours at my leisure to do my own thing. I really couldn’t have found a better gig. At least, that’s what I was thinking.
But the gods will have their laughs. Lots of changes in just only the last couple hundred years, gotta get up to speed. Because, turns out I inspire my boy the best in the room with the big white things. You know, the one with all the yummy delicious food? La Cocina. Die Küche. Si.
Yes, that was a bit of a pause for me too. But then I figured oh that’s all right, that’s no skin off my nose. After all a muse’s job is essentially the same regardless the end result, si? Sit around, look pretty — and inspire, of course. Inspire what? Well that’s precisely what keeps life interesting.
Providing inspiration is one thing. Predicting what it’ll lead to? That’s a whole other laughing matter entirely. As I said, keeps life interesting. So while maybe there’ll be no credit for inspiring the boy’s next great novel, all right, but goodness me, I eat impossibly delicious cuisine every day. It’s quite a delectable life. I had no idea I was this good. You see why I like being a muse?
Occasionally however, there are pitfalls to doing your job a little too well. Inevitable. For instance, what happens when you depend on your poet to feed you and you get a hankering for some good old simple apple crisp? Just some apple crisp. I love apple crisp. Yes all right I admit it, I get nostalgic. My mom made it like no one else did, and hers was the Best Apple Crisp.
And about year ago or more I had a hankering for some, but we didn’t have apples on hand. We had tons of butternut squash. Ok. I can work with that. Butternut instead of apples. Small potatoes. Pan after delicious pan, I prompted, inspired, hinted, or kept my peace when I knew my boy just had to muddle thru it – depending on which approach was called for — until finally, with the last butternut of the season, he arrived at what was the ultimate butternut crisp finished with a base of sesame seeds in caramel, and topped with some oatmeal and brown sugar streusel. I swear it was divine. I was content. Apple crisp? What apple crisp? A thing forgotten.
This year we didn’t have so much butternut for the boy to play with – but we had a few. And so, my mouth all set up and watering for more divine butternut crisps – the boy decided he was long overdue to deliver on his promise of the APPLE crisp which I had oh so long ago requested.
Um. Now, he wants to deliver? Lemme me shift gears a sec here.
Ok. Let’s see, Rule #4 I think – A muse is always graceful under pressure. So I tell my poet yes, I absolutely agree apple crisps are in order and fetch him a bushel of apples to play with. Off he goes! To play in the room with the big white things. Thence emerges an Apple Crisp (if it could be called that) Variation #1. Followed by a Less Doubtful Apple Crisp Variation #2. Then a Shaping Up Apple Crisp Variation #3 . . .
Me, complain? Ha. However, delicious though these attempts were, it’s times like those that try a muse’s soul. I mean, apple crisp, what’s so difficult about them?
I called one of my sisters the other day. We got to talking about old favorite dishes we loved, and our mother’s apple crisp recipe came up. “Yeah,” sighed I. “I’ve been trying to get Brian to bake me a decent apple crisp. He’s almost getting it.” And I began to fill her in on my trials; ” . . . and then Crisp #3 was too dry cuz the apples weren’t juicy and the bread soaked up more than expected, and with Crisp #4 –”
“What?! Apple crisp doesn’t have bread in it!” she exclaimed. “It’s just apples, brown sugar, oatmeal, and cinnamon!”
I whole-heartily agreed. “And neither do they have dairy, nor cheese, nor sesame seeds, neither do they have eggs, nor pineapples, nor caramelized bottoms nor . . .” A pause as I trailed off realizing perhaps not everyone really wants to hear my hard luck stories.
We’re out of apples now anyhow, but not until one last pan of superbly delicious apple crisp that my boy truly got righter than right.
A checkmark and a bazillion gold stars for the poet.
And a note-to-self for this muse: “Next time you want apple crisp, go visit mom.”