The funny thing about being a writer and dating is that sometimes, surprisingly, the people you date actually read your work. This is all well and good if you write about environmentally-friendly building or breaking news or other impersonal, important things, but it gets a little stickier when you, on occasion, discuss those other people you used to date.
It’s easy to tumble down the rabbit hole, reading descriptions of past romances – I myself have done it on more than one occasion – so I can’t say I was entirely surprised when the man who will henceforth be known as “Finn” brought up a few of my old pieces. “I was reading Figs, today” he said. “And I have a couple of questions for you.” I answered them as best I could and he seemed at least partially satisfied, so when the subject was broached again later that night, I listened closely. I wanted to hear what he had to say.
“The thing is,” he said, rubbing his thumb on a glass of Hendricks and tonic water. “It was really exciting to be written about. I read about the mussels, and about me, and it felt all great …” The glass was wet with condensation.
I nodded and ran my own fingers up and down the stem of my wine glass. I was listening.
“But then I read about this guy, and that guy, and the chef and the whatever,” (He flushed a bit and I thought him almost unbearably cute.) “And I wonder if … if you’re just happy now and, like with everyone else, it’ll wear off.”
I put my hand on his chest. Poor Finn! I hadn’t even thought about what it might be like to acknowledge a new lover’s past romances. And in such great detail! Now it was my turn to flush: my cheeks brightened and my hand moved up from his chest to the side of his face. “Fair enough,” I said, and I really meant it. It’s difficult enough to convince an extraordinary man you really, actually care in a way others don’t, and here I was, mucking up all of my hard work with Harlequin-tinged romance stories. “You’re right to feel that way,” I said. “But if I may be honest with you, I’d like you to know that, with all sincerity …”
He rubbed his palm gently on my thigh, right underneath the hem of my skirt. I took a deep breath: “I have never, ever, with any man I’ve had, felt the way I do with you,” I said, and I really meant that too. “I’m comfortable with you,” I said, wiggling down into the couch, “and I feel sexy with you.” I let my middle finger slide over his lower lip. “You want me to succeed, and you’re proud of what I do.” I bent my knees, my legs creating an arc over his. “You’re successful and driven and generous – so very generous! – and all of those good things I’ve always wanted but could never seem to find in one person.” I took a deep breath because I had meant all of that as well, and the honesty felt both good and bracing.
He pressed his forehead into mine and sighed. “But you don’t know me.” I started to protest and he continued. “You don’t know me, not all that well yet.”
“Yet! Yet! But give me a little credit. I know who I am and I know what’s important to me.”
He gripped my legs. “I am. I am! I am giving you credit! I just think we both need to really give it time. See where it goes.”
We both laughed. This was exhausting! “I don’t wanna talk about it anymore!” he said.
“Yes! Then let’s talk about something else! Anything else!” I threw my hands out in exaggeration and let my right one flutter down to my wine glass. I sipped.
He grinned. I cocked my head. He really did have a fantastic smile. “You need to make those radishes again.”
Two nights prior, I’d put together a simple salad of radishes and red romaine. The lettuce was pillowy soft and, so far as lettuce leaves go, awfully plump. As for the radishes, I’d cooked them in water and butter until they were soft and sweet.
“You think so?” I asked. I thought about the radishes, how they had dissolved in our mouths like cotton candy, and how the sea salt crackled under our teeth as we bit in. “They were good, weren’t they?”
“Yes!” he said. “I don’t even normally like radishes. Honest, I don’t.”
“But these … they didn’t even taste like radishes. They were incredible. Different than any radish I’ve ever had.”
I relaxed my face into a cheeky little smile. “Yes,” I said. “Exactly.”
Candied Radishes, For Two
- 8 radishes, any variety, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
- Sea salt
- Fresh black pepper
Trim the radishes of their tails and tops and halve them lengthwise. Place them in a skillet or frying pan along with the butter, water and sugar.
Cook over medium heat – simmering, really – until a paring knife pierced into a radish is released easily. Ideally, this point will be reached just as the water is completely evaporated. If the water evaporates before the radishes are soft, just add a bit more in. If they are cooked through before the water evaporates, simply crank the heat and let it boil away.
Cook the radishes over high heat, shaking the pan or prodding them with a wooden spoon, so they become caramelized and crispy on their outer edges. Remove from the heat and season well with sea salt and pepper.
Picture by K Glam PhotoStudio