I met my soulmate Karl T. Lyons about a month ago, but we also know each other from the great many past lives we have previously lived through as a duo. This was extremely obvious from the very first moment we met.
Karl and I are co-workers, and the first week I worked at my new job my boss kept telling me that Karl and I were going to love each other, but I had my doubts, since I’m not the hugest fan of most people. I was sort of dreading working with him for the first time since my boss had obviously been telling him that he was going to love me too, and it would have been really uncomfortable if we’d ended up hating each other. Worse even than hating each other would have been complete indifference. At least if we hated each other we could have been like, “Well, love and hate are two sides of the same coin!” and then participated in a workplace feud that I’m sure would have been very entertaining for all parties involved.
But, as I’ve already made explicitly clear, Karl & I are soulmates, and upon our initial meeting, experienced the phenomenon commonly known as love at first sight. We’re both Cancerians, obviously, and within, like, ten minutes of knowing each other, began planning our joint birthday party. At our birthday party we will be co-performing a conceptual art piece simulating all the different stages of sub/dom sexual intercourse in increasing intensity wherein all our party guests will be free to leave at whichever stage makes them feel uncomfortable— this also relates to the pro-positivity movement we founded that day, since we wouldn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable and therefore negative about the experience of watching us have fake sex at our joint birthday party.
Over the course of the next few weeks, a bunch of other beautiful and important Karl & I things happened, the most significant being that we both watched the live-action 2016 adaptation of The Jungle Book. At this point, I find it nearly impossible to relate to people who haven’t seen it, and probably never will. If you can’t comprehend the fundamental truth of the pack being the strength of the wolf and the wolf bring the strength of the pack, I don’t really want to know you. Other cool things we did:
1) figured out what Harry Potter houses all our co-workers would be sorted into, and obviously we’re both Slytherins
2) decided that I’m an arctic fox and he’s a snow leopard
3) staged a fake fight at work where I was like “Your cologne is irritating the fuck out of my eyes” but then we kind of lost interest in it because it’s way easier to just love each other
4) started a Keeping Up With The Kardashians book club
5) decided to learn Krav Maga
6) decided to leave work in the middle of work one Sunday afternoon so we could go get CoYo (coconut yoghurt) parfaits at Whole Foods and then spend the rest of our lives at Whole Foods (we didn’t do that)
7) And then we decided to get married, and also become wedding planners, and have four weddings, one for each season.
Last Sunday— the Sunday after the Sunday we didn’t abandon work in the middle of it to go eat CoYo parfaits at Whole Foods—we decided to turn our dream of eating CoYo parfaits at Whole Foods into a reality. That day was pretty much the greatest fucking day of my life.
We met up for pre-CoYo parfait iced BAMs (black Americanos) at Browns of Brockley, where we also shared a brownie, since a big part of Karl and I’s relationship is loving RS (refined sugar) togeths. At Browns of Brockley, we made friends with a stranger named Bob something-that-wasn’t-Callahan-but-sounded-like-Callahan, who asked us if we’d be his guardian angels and watch his bag, which obvio we were down to do, since we’re both major angels anyway, and it was nice to finally be appreciated for it. We hung out with Bob non-Callahan for a bit, and then we went to a little shop by Brockley station that I forget the name of, where we bought lollipops and took a selfie with the owner of the shop. Karl’s lollipop had a pineapple on it, and mine had a rose.
We took the train to Green Park, and then stopped into a Japanese bakery that was at once spartan and twee. It sold shit like red bean paste wrapped in an oak leaf. We eventually ranked the employees of that shop (“Japanese ladies who thought we were WILD”) as #7 on the list we made called People Who Loved Us Most Today. Karl bought me a maraschino cherry embedded in a block of clear gelatin shaped like a gemstone which was wrapped in a little parcel of lovely Japanese paper that we became very weirded out by. It felt warm and damp in my hand. We made several disgusting jokes about it that I am too shy to write down and then a man on the street told me that I should make Karl shave off his beard and I was really appalled that anyone would ever speak ill of my beautiful snow leopard and shouted about it for a while but then moved on with my life.
Next we went to Whole Foods, but they didn’t have any CoYo parfaits, which was fucking ridiculous, so I punished them by shoplifting two raw vegan banoffee pies. I just walked out, carrying them in my bare hands, and nobody even noticed, because we are just too huge of angels for it to ever occur to any human that we might also be immoral. So that was a nice little thrill for me! I felt cool and badass and like every single person in the world was in love with me.
Post-Whole Foods, we devoted about an hour of our lives to popping into a million different bakeries and bougie health food places called things like Detox Kitchen and asking them if they had any CoYo— nobody had any CoYo! It was fucking embarrassing for them, and disgusting to us. I got really into playing the role of “delicate little flower who has every dietary restriction, and all my fragile digestive system is capable of handling is CoYo”— I was a dairy-free soy-free gluten-free vegan. We stormed out of so many places in a huff. Another thing that happened during this phase of our day was we followed an shady-looking cardboard sign with the world “MODELS” plus an arrow written on it in Sharpie up a decrepit staircase to see what would happen, but then we decided that the answer was probably death and turned around. And then we met our cool new enemy the garbagey dog-owner who replied to Karl’s asking her what breed her dog was with “Don’t ask me things,” which was an admittedly inspiring take on being a human, but at the same time, maybe save your garbage attitude for people who aren’t angels.
Next we went to Liberty, where I performed my “I have every dietary restriction in the world” shtick for an employee of the Liberty chocolate shop. Karl told her we were engaged and she congratulated us with such alarming sincerity that it ultimately earned her a #4 ranking on our list of People Who Loved Us (“lady who thought we were actually engaged (liberty, choc shop)”)
I guess now’s as good of a time as any to mention that Karl is a gay man who is in a long-term committed relationship with another gay man. But, you know, it’s been a big year for me thinking about marrying like twenty-five straight dudes who aren’t in long-term committed relationships with anyone except sometimes me, and they’ve basically all been shit-shows, so fuck it, you know? I may as well just call a spade a spade and marry Karl.
At Liberty I tried on a cute dress that looked good on me and then we explored the housewares department and made some plans for the future house we’re going to live in together. Karl has insisted that said house contain a “cat room,” which will be a shrine to cats featuring cat trinkets, cat paraphernalia, cat art, and also some actual cats. I am not the world’s hugest cat person but like cats well enough so I’m fine with that. We found a cat-shaped butter dish that would have been perfect for the cat room but it seemed like it might be too small for butter. We talked to a Liberty employee about it. Karl told her he worried that it might be too small for a stick of butter and the employee said “Well, just cut a smaller piece of butter”— I see her point, but at the same time, why don’t you just make us a bigger cat dish. We went downstairs to the men’s department and decided that Comme des Garcons PLAY shit with the logo of heart with eyes on it is gauche and I held a long-sleeved striped t-shirt of it up to myself to gross Karl out and then I decided that I want to own a ton of it, but like, for around the house, on hungover off days, to wear while eating cold Thai food leftovers and watching Kardashians.
Then we left Liberty, and were entirely over CoYo at that point, and decided that what we actually wanted was to drink a Black Velvet. A Black Velvet is Guinness & champagne mixed together in equal proportions, ideally served out of a tin cup. I’ve never had one, but sometimes pretend like I have, since it’s so on-brand for me to be drinking tons of them constantly. Everybody knows I’m really into champagne, and that’s great, I’m classy as fuck and I’m not going to blame myself for that. But, let’s be honest, champagne is a bit basic. The addition of Guinness scraps it up.
We spent the next, like, five fucking hours of the day doing the Black Velvet version of the same thing we’d already done during our CoYo search, only by this point we were better at it. We were more straightforward, all business, extremely confident in our ability to communicate faux-outrage using body language and minimal dialogue. I think we probably destroyed a lot of people’s lives that day.
Even though Hix didn’t serve Black Velvets and therefore was worthless to us, it was there, and we were at it, and we needed to take a breather from traipsing around Central London, so we hung out there for a minute. I had a glass of champagne and then a Zombie and Karl had something I can’t remember and then a Zombie. We ate a plate of raw radishes and mayonnaise. It was the Scottish bartender’s last day at his job and a drunk woman who told me an anecdote about one of the actors from Game of Thrones that I found difficult to follow bought a bunch of Mars bars for the kitchen to deep-fry in his honor. He gave us a bite of one, in doing so earning himself a very respectable sixth-place position on our People Who Loved Us list.
At that point we were deeply over Central London and needed to venture back Southeast, where we belong, but not before stopping into a hundred thousand more pubs and restaurants to inquire as to whether or not they served Black Velvets— they didn’t. “What is this city coming to?” we asked the Universe, raising our palms to the sky in theatrical defeat.
On the Jubilee train to Canada Water we met a very drunk lad whose can of disgusting lager I took a sip of, followed by the #5 Person Who Loved Us Most, “Jack & Coke Girl.” Jack & Coke Girl had cute fucked up teeth, said something sassy to the drunk lad, and was drinking a can of Jack & Coke on public transit, the exact act of which is an integral component of my summer fashion concept, so obviously I had no choice but to love her.
Once we made it back Southeast, we went to the Rose in New Cross, which is our thing. We got to chatting with one of the bartenders, who was Irish and vaguely cute but also the inspiration my recent genius Tweet “worst thing that cld possibly happen to a person happened to me last nite: was talking 2 a cute boy, then he said he's into PARKOUR.” Karl & I fucked up a bottle of Cava in about twenty-five minutes, and then fled the scene, since were both really over listening to Parkour-man tell us about Parkour/the boring backstory to his affected bisexuality/congratulate himself for having a “non-skinny” 6’2” Danish girlfriend who obviously doesn’t exist. We gave him a stolen raw vegan banoffee pie as his medal for having a non-skinny girlfriend and then went to a different pub and tried to convince the bartender to eat an Oreo that Karl had picked up off the street in SoHo but he wouldn’t, because he was gluten-free. We ordered a glass of Prosecco and a pint of Guinness and mixed them together in an empty glass. It was not delicious. We went to a chicken shop and ordered a thing of fries and a thing of potato wedges and ate them with ketchup and mayonnaisey sauce and then went back to the Rose for one more. The Irish bartender was still there, being a nuisance and having shitty energy, ordering shots and wearing a stupid skinny scarf and leaning drunkenly against a pole. Fuck that guy.
We sat with our legs up on the table and Karl heckled him. “You’re a mess!” he yelled.
“Please stop!” I begged, “Please don’t bring him back into our lives!”
That was when we wrote our list of People Who Loved Us Most Today. Even though the Irish bartender probably loved us, he didn’t make the cut. He was sectioned off into his own little category, People Who Don’t Count. It consisted only of him. The number 1 through 3 spots on our list all belonged to people from the last half-hour of our day, because that was where we were at that moment, and we were drunk, and our long-term memories were weak at that point. Number three was a cockapoo named Dexter we met, number two was the hot bartender with the great ass, and number one was “bouncer lady at The Rose.” I don’t remember much about “bouncer lady at The Rose,” but it’s nice to know that for a moment of my life I believed that she loved me.
A couple months ago I went to a bougie/hipstery art party chock-a-block with dilettantes who wanted to see and be seen with a cute boy, and after I’d taken a moment to process the vibe of my surroundings, I said, “This seems like the kind of fun other people are always having,” and as soon as I said it I could see from the way the boy looked at me that I’d impressed him, that he now saw me as sharp and tuned-in woman with a keen eye for “noticing what things are like,” and I liked the way it made me feel. Sometimes it’s alright, spending my time with beautiful useless straight men who probably identify as “sapiosexual” (EW) on their Okcupid profiles, but at the same time, attending some la-di-da art world shindig with a moron is never the kind of fun I would actually want to be having. It’s a kind of fun that I will acknowledge is fun but it is a kind of fun that I would prefer to hate on than participate in.
The fun I had on Sunday is the only kind of fun I care about. I like zoning really hard into the presence of one person, I get kinda squirrely when it’s two or three. I like running around and wreaking havoc and having adventures, making messes. I like lying about dietary restrictions and irritating strangers and making lists of things that don’t matter. All I want is to eat stupid food and get very drunk and marry gay men. I want to be an arctic fox and grow my own garden in the tundra.
LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Peruvian Sangria, A Theoretical Peach Schnapps Wine Cooler, George Harrison of the Beatles
Here are three of my favorite things this week:
*That photo is not our house, it's a house down the street from our house. I loved that staircase and really wanted to experience walking up it.
ii. I’m reading Blood, Bones & Butter, which is a memoir by Gabrielle Hamilton, who runs the restaurant Prune in New York City. The book is so fantastic, she's had this wild life and she's so tough and no-bullshit and seems so deliberate in everything she does, foodwise and otherwise. Twice this week I've watched the part in the Mind of a Chef episode where she peels the membrane off a huge lump of poached/shocked sweetbreads; I'll probably watch it several more times in the upcoming days. I regret not going to Prune while I was in New York and eating some soft ricotta with raspberries and figs and honey or a brown butter cake with salted yogurt and cold candied lemon, or at least just looking in the window. Here are some things from Blood, Bones & Butter that I want to eat:
-her first meal in Greece after traveling across Europe in the middle of the winter in her early 20s, when she’s run out of money and eaten only a raw onion and some pumpkin seeds in the last five days, that meal being: two dark-orange-yolked eggs fried in olive oil with coarse sea salt; a thick slice of crusty bread; and a blended drink of apple and honey and milk, which I imagine as so beautifully frothy and cold and golden
-retsina and lamb or anything from some restaurant on the Aegean Sea during that same Greece trip, where there’s no menu and you find out what they’re serving by walking back into the kitchen and lifting the lids off the pots and looking inside
-the prosciutto and arugula and olive oil sandwich her Italian husband makes for her on their first date, when he picks her up on his motorcycle and takes her to the beach in Queens in the freezing cold. She likes the sandwich but tells him he should add butter, for “the perfection of three fats together,” which is how I’d like my sandwich too
-ladyfinger biscuits flipped from the edge of the kitchen table so that they fly into the air and then splash into your champagne glass
iii. Like everyone else, I love that New Yorker piece on the Frog & Toad books and Arnold Lobel (who made the illustration above, which is from a book from 1963 called The Secret Three by Mildred Myrick). There is something very soothing and wonderful about reading other people describe the plots to Frog & Toad stories. This was my fave:
"Take, for instance, the story 'Alone,' from 'Days with Frog and Toad,' in which Toad goes to Frog’s house to visit him but finds a note on the door that reads, 'Dear Toad, I am not at home. I went out. I want to be alone.' Toad begins to experience a little crisis: 'Frog has me for a friend. Why does he want to be alone?' Toad discovers that Frog is sitting and thinking on an island far from the shore, and he worries that Frog isn’t happy and doesn’t want to see him anymore. But, when they meet (after Toad falls headfirst into the water and soaks the sandwiches he’s made for lunch), Frog says, 'I am happy. I am very happy. This morning when I woke up I felt good because the sun was shining. I felt good because I was a frog. And I felt good because I have you for a friend. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to think about how fine everything is.'"
And then I went back and reread the Frog & Toad shoutout from one of the first things I ever wrote for Strawberry Fields Whatever (which turns four-years-old tomorrow!), this little thing about buddies and pathological optimism and the first time I met Evan Dando. I still agree with almost all of it, and "He resembles George Harrison of the Beatles, but he wears his hair tied in a small bow at the back" is still a very sweet lyric to me. "Frank Mills" is all-time sweetest on many different levels.