Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tom Waits

I once made sweet potato fries with Tom Waits at a friend's 50th birthday party in Sebastopol. His daughter used to take art classes with us at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. I never really interacted with him much. Seemed to want his space as it were. So we left him alone.

But at the party he was stuck with me as he didn't want to mingle with the other guests as we were appointed the sudden short order cooks. Apparently I was the lesser of two evils. But he was so uncomfortable in my presence that I was uncomfortable too. Even talking about his daughter didn't break the ice. So there we were, starin' mightily hard at the stove, a 1960s model, with its strange coils glowing red like Dr. Caligari eyes, drawing us deeper into the illusion. Discordant Calliope as background music.

But the sweet potato fries, ah, the fries doused with chili powder and lime, were sublime. For a moment we forgot who we were, we smiled and took pleasure in such a simple delight. Tom's sideburns were an odd aubergine hue—a rough henna job. Romeo was bleeding. Sort of like the color of the chili powder sprinkled on the fries. He hid out in the kitchen as the party raged on in the rest of the house. I gave up, and followed the distant music.

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