To say that I have been inconsolable would be an understatement. The commute to Hell each morning is where reality pummels my sleepy soul. One might think that the joy of riding the crowded subway with a basket containing two still-hot pies might lessen the injury. But this morning: not. I felt that I was flailing in the rough surf of this heat wave. Loosing buoyancy.
The pies I carry are my second and third sour cherry pies. I’ve only started my pie run but they are already being made with end of the season cherries. I know only a few people can tell the difference. But I am one of them. Plus, I’m only making five pies this summer. Five. So I’m more than half done and I haven’t even started. I plunked down the basket on my desk. One pie for Hell; one pie for the Texans. The basket is still hot and steaming.
“I’m a jumbled mess,” I thought, as I arranged a clandestine picnic during lunch hour. There’s not enough pie to go around to all of Hell. Pie triage. Pie triage in Hell. This is why I call it Hell.
So a few of us snuck away. We found a grassy spot on a pier. Don’t fool yourselves, it was hot. I chose to ignore the mad man who was trying to tell me something unappetizing about the lawn. We had a splendid time. Kurt, Jeanette, Sigal, Anne, Anya…even me. I sliced the still warm pie and the pall on my heart lifted. I felt a tart cherry burst in my mouth and the black hole that is my soul brightened and its gravity reversed. I wished there would be more pies but I remembered this was the price I paid for extra time in a medieval city with its frescoes and relics and horses. A few less pies was the cost of a few days at the ancient beach resort of Caesar Augustus. There would be other years and other pies. It’s not like I’m gathering souls for the Last Judgement.
But we didn’t talk at all about Italy or Judgements. Instead, Anya told us about a conversation she overheard in the Russian part of Hell.
When Boris was a child, he was so poor that his mother would put a button in his tea. (Yes, that didn’t make any sense to me either.) There is a Russian custom of drinking tea through a sugar cube. There are two ways I’ve heard this is done: you hold the sugar between your front teeth and sip the tea through the cube; or you actually bite the pieces off the cube between sips of tea. The Russian term for this translates roughly to “tea while biting.” Anya used the Russian term. The white button at the bottom of Boris’ glass of tea was supposed to remind him of the sweetness of the sugar. Then she said another Russian term that sounded very similar to the first which meant something like “tea while looking.”
Just then, a woman tourist approached us concerned that the pile of belongings that the mad man had left unattended might be “something” — she didn’t want to say “bomb.” Maybe we shouldn’t have laughed at her but the pie-induced euphoria got the better of us. We lingered a bit longer before we went back to Hell.
Maia and Adam stopped by for a bit of pie at my desk. The last piece was left unattended on my desk. I cannot speak to its final disposition but I have my suspicions.
(I’ll tell you about the second pie next.)