The Tortilla ThiefRead Now
Posted on April 4, 2020 by scottiejeanette
Okay… i’m failing.
For over 30 years, Mylove, Marcy, was the dog whisperer of our family. Seriously. We had, over the course of 32 years together… three, six… nine… thirteen official pets (8 doggies, 4 cats, 3 opossums and two doves) that were part or our family… as well as revolving door of literally (not exaggerating here) 100’s of rescue animals (yes, she was that into it) sometimes there was many as 30 baby opossums in our office at one time.
I’m not gonna lie, we came thru the now infamous time where “boomers” had “fur babies” in lieu of children… oh, don’t get me wrong we actually did give it the old college try to live up to the stereotypical marriage: two years in, we took a shot at the “oh look, she’s preggers” thingy. Which, was her idea. As a feminist, I was like seriously? Only if that’s what you want.
So, of course I tried as hard as the next gal to make sure Mylove got what she needed… I was in love with her… you don’t always get what you want, but you just might get what you need…
… which, it turns out wasn’t a child.
Yes, we drank the tea, (Yie! Tastes like the bottom of the forest floor) that the kindly Chinese herbalist prescribed. Yes, we tried acupuncture — she was skewered by one of the really good ones trying to reverse her “chi,” every Saturday for months…
Yes, we loved each other dearly and could see having a child with no other… and we had many cheerleaders (doesn’t every newly wed couple?) everyone thought we would be the mostest awesomest of parents…
… because many thought I was that child.
But to say I was Marcy’s child would minimize our marriage. We started as colleagues, then collaborators and ended as lovers… but no one, least of all me, would deny that for 32 years, it was I who did blossom under her love to become the woman I am today.
In fact… other than storytelling, everything I know, Marcy taught me, or guided me toward knowing… Even my cooking was done in the constant quest to please her ever changing and yet ALWAYS discerning tastes and wants.
But… now… I’m struggling…
…to follow her command of dogs.
For those of you who knew her, she was not only the dog whisperer, but the animal whisperer… from the spiders who’d taken residence in our bathroom to the fur babies who graced our life, Mylove communed with them all… But dogs? She was a black belt.
And there were many. I actually dated Mukti, Mylove’s bearded collie, before I even took her took her out. (Details, details, she was married at that time, whatevs) Mukti’s silken fur and glorious presence made even a casual stroke of his mane, a moment of spiritual transformation.
And let’s be real. At the end of the day…Mukti was a chick magnet. Marcy and (her husband at that time) Bill thought it was great that I wanted to walk their dog. Yes, I was hungry for a fur baby – having had one at my side my entire life until college where I “experimented” (how cliché am I?) with cats. Yes, I loved to help out. Marcy would often say that it broke her heart that Mook had to stay in doors all day. My schedule left me free during the days, so I could step up and step in. But really, Mook was the ultimate wingdog. I would walk him down the beach of Del Mar and we couldn’t go ten feet without being stopped by someone to chat about how amazing my dog was… and Mook never let on that I was “just his walker”.
Years later when Mook was my Best Dog at Marcy & my wedding, everything fell into its rightful place. Mook was the Mammal Emeritus, the architect of our household that would never again be without fur. I mean, who wouldn’t want Marcy M. Madden as their caretaker? And I was Taft Hartley’d into Mylove’s Doolittleian ways.
It’s not that I’m not good with fur baby rearing. I tried to be supportive, but Marcy was like all Jedi Masters, constantly evolving, always trying to improve not just their behavior but ways to keep them outstandingly healthy and happy. This dynamic strategy was a little tough to keep up with, as she found ever newer way to bring up our babies. It seemed like I was always auditing a college level course. Never graduating as the curriculum evolved.
She was patient with me at first, painstakingly instructing in the “newest” ways, but being barely a child myself, I… (and I’m not proud of this excuse, cuz, it does, in fact, smell as my father predicted) rarely stopped the info from going in one ear, and out it’s inevitable, predicted exit.
Yes. I was the one sneaking them between meal treats (and feeding them from the table, and etc.) Often undoing a week’s worth of work with our doggies and their manners.
And now… as my mother predicted, I’m…wait for it…
… paying the price.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t usually mind it. And especially during this lockdown, when I have, what so many others are craving… someone, something, or better yet, somedog to hug, I am definitely not complaining…. And If am allowing myself a second snack between 2nd breakfast and lunch, of course, I, the one with the opposable thumbs, will hook them up, tambien.
The other day, as I was just dipping my toe into the temporary new normal, (which we’re promised wis supposed to end by Easter, if you’re a complete idiot or have the immune system of a rat or cockroach, or a Mark IV diving suit — note: which when I first wrote that, it was “current” or relevant” but, tho’ it has changed in the mere days since uttered, still seems pertinent to record, so without further ado we return you to our regularly scheduled rant – um BTDubs, we’re back to…the… um … past) I was with all the other zanies scouring the shopping aisles of my Gelson’s mere minutes before the Mayor’s announced City wide shutdown was upstaged by the Governor’s state-wide decree, and was shocked in this white enclave of Calabasas to discover that the tortilla aisle was mowed tighter than the Galaxy’s pitch.
Whaaaa? You guys get the bagels and white bread! Leave the torts for those of us who have tastebuds!
But hang on, Scottie Jeanette… weren’t you the girl who wrote Recklass in the Kitchen? Didn’t you learn at Margie Romero’s knee how to make manna from Mexico… from scratch?
Oh no. We got this. We’re on it…
Except, good luck finding it here. They can’t even spell Masa Harina. But they did have a lone bag (it looked like it’s mother had driven off without her) of Bob’s Red Mill, grits. Now, a quick dip into the Goog, (which is possible, cuz they got great wifi here) reveals that Masa & Grits are actually kissin’ cousins. Both made from Hominy, La Tia to the humble corn that’s a tastier amiga from across the border (of the Valley, the tortilla factory is in Hacienda Heights.) we think we’re eating as we dip it into salsa. I.E. Who knew? It’s not “regular” corn, (is there such a thing as normal?) but the large fluffy white or yellow starch that make pozole, and so many other classic dishes iconic.
So back to, “I got this.” I adopted the bag and brought it home. Now, the Goog, did say that’s it courser and the suggestion was to grind it finer. No, prob, I say, I’ve got a Ninja… another genius gift from Mylove to her love to improve her cooking prowess. But, I must confess, it was harder than I thought. If you’re gonna try it, be prepared to spend a lot of time on this. After 20 or so grindings, I decided that this was “an experiment” and resigned myself to lowering the bar.
The dough was, after the the mixing process. still… what’s the the right technical culinary term I’m looking for… ah, yes… Yucky.
So I popped them into the reefer to see if a timeout in the cold and dark would get them back on my team.
The next morning I was fantasizing about writing to you all about my genius Coronahack – me, the survival TV showrunner had actually learned something out in the bush, (other than mascara will freeze at 14 degrees) and even the “Perfessor” John Hudson would be proud. Oh yes, I was going to start with the basic breakfast taco and maybe even get some enchiladas out of the deal…
If… by taco you mean chicken wrapped in a hockey puck
Which it was. I’m not kidding — these sucked.
And so I wrapped them still warm in a plastic bag (Lib, don’t judge me — it was recycled at least once!) hoping that maybe the moisture would make them soft enough to salvage. (After all, this is Packylypse — who knows when I will ever get to the store again). I rationalized (again, silk tortilla, sow’s puck, kinda thingy) that they will at least make a good tamale pie – baking them in sauce until they disintegrate back to their original grit.
But if that’s gonna happen, I better seal them in… hey? Where did I put them?
This is the thing about this social distancing thingy…
… I’m… okay,… losing it.
I am maintaining a very disciplined schedule. But I feel like maintaining it is all I’m really capable of doing right now. Is my work good? I dunno. Is my cooking good? I dunno. But then, I’m a captive audience, I would eat anything (everything) long about now. Is it my best. Feels like it. Could be. But I just don’t seem to have available bandwidth for anything other than moving onto the next task at it’s scheduled time. And I’m doing something I rarely, if ever, developed a muscle to even do… and that is:
I’m second, third and even fourth guessing myself — like now.
I thought I put the tortillas up on the reefer. Nope. Cuz they’re not there. The cheese drawer where I normally keep REAL tortillas? Nope. But I put them onto the top of the reefer. You said this already. I know, but… Ah, the bread cupboard. Why? Why what? Why would you put them there? I dunno, cuz there not in the cheese drawer and they’re …
If you go look on top of the reefer one more time, I swear to Gawd… I know, but I put them there.
Obviously you didn’t… And who are you talking to?
YOU! You are who I’m talking to… which… is … shit… me…
It was a mystery that bothered me for the rest of the day… and… I’m not like this. I can get as distracted as the next girl, but I keep my kitchen tight.
That’s when I have to confront the truth… as Sherlock Holmes was credited with saying, (You mean Arthur Conan Doyle? Shsh! She’s on a roll!)
Where was I? Oh yeah, Sherly would say, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” So since they were neither on the reefer, in the cheese drawer or even in the bread cupboard…
Did I walk away with them in hand, and absent-mindedly leave them in my medicine chest? Marcy left our cordless phone in the freezer once… it’s not impossible?
I ran up stairs excited to the freezer and pulled open the door with triumphant… disappointment. Its here that both Aria & Bella, looked at me like I really was certifiable, and started to rochambeau for who was going to have to learn out how to dial a cell phone first. I saw the expression on their furry faces and I realized… all that remained, however impossible was that…
… I had a tortilla thief.
Here’s what’s got me most freaked out during quarantime. How my mind can with oh so little encouragement, can and even more scarily will go… I swing back and forth from the enlightened heart opened expansiveness of crying that the almost ninety year old neighbor gave me a lemon from her tree in gesture of pure human kindness, generosity and connection… to the absolute fear that she could be handing me COVID-19, and I have to smile thru her beautiful attempts to try to find her learned English (as her fourth or fifth language) while as the clock ticks toward to running to wash my hands and quarantine this precious lemon.
I hate that I can see all the vectors like a T1 Cyborg thermal scanning where my left hand (the one that takes the bullet for the team) goes doing the most mundane things, keeping the right hand from harm’s way while I quarantine my mail, my groceries, my deliveries… and we all are developing our own “protocols” for this new normal.
I hate it because it means that despite the warnings of all of the greatest minds before us, like Margret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov, we didn’t listen to a goddamned thing they said, blowing off their warnings like fanciful fiction… instead of prescient understanding of human kind… NEWSFLASH! we are living that science fiction story you’ve been nightmaring about!!!!!!!
We were warned by countless sources. Our President and his cronies are either evil or idiots.yet neither helps us. But we if die, it won’t matter who’s to blame. cuz we’ll be corona-ed. And there’s nothing FOX News will able to spin about that. So am I really hoping that its as cray as it seems just so idiots will wear their face masks? WTF? I hafta walk myself back from the edge with every waking thought!
Yes! Our Governors are stepping up (some are – the other will burn) and I’m proud as always to be a Californian, always have been, but Governor Newsom makes me especially proud and will be hailed as a a hero as will Governor Cuomo.
… where my mind goes during this lockdown. It doesn’t see the future — only the present… and the present is…
I scoured the house for the telltale signs. Now, you should know that Bella has swallowed an entire knee sock before, (I’ll spare you the photo of that… I still can’t unsee it) and Aria was capable of devouring an entire bunny right before me like a python (again this is a family show) So, if either (and probably both) were in on this caper, I prayed they had the sense to be able to tell the difference between hockey puck and recycled plastic bag…
Which I found. The plastic bag I mean. In the backyard. So even though they might not have good taste (like I said, not my best work) they at least have good sense. And they know to hide their dirty work.
But they ate a dozen.
But left the bag.
Did I still give them their second snack between 2nd breakfast and lunch?
Of course I did. What kind of mother do you think I am? But Marcy, Mylove would’ve made this a “teachable moment”… I… didn’t have the heart.
Everyone needs a little more space these days — and I’ve certainly been guilty of needing that during this lockdown.
Oh, and… What were we talking about?
Did someone say tortillas?
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Scottie Jeanette Madden
Screenwriter, Author, Cook and Lover. Author of "Getting Back To Me, from girl to boy to woman in just fifty years" & "Recklass In The Kitchen" a year of light, laughter & love... oh. and food!