MAURO OF MANHATTAN (No Sex in the City)
New York Observer, May 29, 2006, page 2
“Tonight I’m gonna cook you dinner”.
Wow. Upper East Side women are able to turn into a memorable event what for Italian women is just boring routine. Marsha is going to feed me. It’s a rare treat she offers me about twice a month. Usually, our home dinners are independent. We open the fridge whenever we come back from work, at different hours. The maximum I do is cooking pasta (just for myself, she’s no-carb). The maximum she does is buying something at the deli (just for herself, I’m no-organic).
She has prepared me a huge hot dog. “I know it’s your favourite, I saw you going downstairs from Rizzoli for lunch, getting one at 56 and Sixth. You like both ketchup and mustard, right?”
She sounds so proud and sweet. I love her. She brings me the plate with the hot dog on the couch in front of the tv, smiling. I give one bite. Revolting. Nevertheless I swallow silently and eat it all: I don’t want to disappoint her. She spent a considerable time in the kitchen, I’m sure she tried hard and did her best. Besides, she would get offended, and her sulks are neverending. I don’t want to ruin the night. She once cooked me spinach with philadelphia cheese. But she mixed them, creating a disgusting cream. I told her I didn’t like it: “Next time, let’s have them together, but separately”. She kept silent until the next day.
“How did you like it?”, she asks hopefully.
“Terrific. Yummy yummy. Come here, let’s watch the movie. I’ll massage your feet”.
At the end of the tv movie I get up, go to the kitchen and, careful not to be seen, open the fridge. There are two remaining hot dogs, with a big ‘Meatless’ written on them. Ah. I check the ingredients: tofu, soy, the things she likes. Anything but the real thing: milkless milk, flourless bread, sugarless sugar...
Marsha doesn’t cook: she heats up in the microwave. She buys everything prepared, paying 3-400% more. Little transparent plastic boxes with salad, mostly. I read that Manhattan supermarkets make most of their profits from this: they would have to close down if they were to sell only basic food such as vegetables, milk, bread.
Actually, Marsha loves to eat directly at the supermarket. She must have been tens of times at Whole Foods in the Time Warner towers since they opened, and her other favourite is the second floor at Fairway.
“Doesn’t it bother you to eat all alone?”, I asked her.
“Not at all”.
“But it’s so sad. If you eat alone you die alone, we say in Italy”.
“It’s so relaxing, Mauro”.
I hate it when she relaxes in ways different the making love to me. Relax should occur in bed. I’m jealous of all her other ways to get it: jogging, nails, shopping, yoga, talking to her mom and friends on the phone. I can accept only massage, provided it’s me doing it to her.
The maximum of alienation, to my stupid Italian eyes, is reached by Marsha when she buys coffee on the go, sipping it through a straw in the subway or walking on the street.
“Let’s sit down at home before leaving in the morning, that’s a good way to relax. I’ll make us one,” I proposed.
“Sorry hon, I’m in a hurry.”
“What’s so urgent? Take it easy.”
“I got stuff to be done.”
“Let’s go and sit at a table at Starbucks, then.”
“I got things to be taken care of. Sorry for being so antsy, dear. It’s not you fault. I adore you.”
Marsha appears to be constantly overwhelmed, even when she doesn’t have appointments to go to nor deadlines to meet. But that’s also her charm to my eyes: the busy, powerful and businesslike New York woman.
So, after discovering her humongous ‘meatless hot dogs’ in the fridge, I go back to the sitting room and kiss her on her forehead. I am sincerely grateful for her good will and the lovely bimonthly dinner. Luckily she doesn’t notice it’s such a patronising gesture. If she knew the truth, she would spit in one eye of mine. Exactly as, if I were sincere and didn’t love her, I would have spit out her fake hot dog.