Author Archives: Rick Bailey

About Rick Bailey

Rick Bailey grew up in Freeland, Michigan, on the banks of the Tittabawassee River. He taught writing for 38 years at Henry Ford College. A Midwesterner long married to an Italian immigrant, he has learned the language and food of Italy, traveled around the country, and, in the process, he has been (partly) made over–italianizato. In retirement Rick and his wife divide their time between Michigan and the Republic of San Marino.

Falsely Badly Bigly

Donald Trump

Donald Trump feels badly for Brett Kavanaugh. He feels terribly for Kavanaugh and his family.

When I hear him say things like this, I feel sadly. In front of reporters with microphones and cameras, which means in front of all the world, when this president says he feels badly, it just makes me feel sickly. Continue reading

I Am Not Confused About What Happened

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I’ll never forget. A guy walked up behind me, then moved right next to me. Excuse me, he said.  Do you know where there is a bathroom nearby? I knew the campus. I pointed. Inside that building, I said, at the bottom of the stairs. He was big. He looked me up and down, he nodded and said, Do you think that would be a good place for a blowjob?

This had never happened to me before. You don’t forget.

It was a Sunday afternoon, late spring, in 1975. It was Cross Street in Ypsilanti, between Boone Hall and Sherzer Observatory. He was wearing tan pants, brown shoes, a blue jacket. He was in his late 20’s or early 30’s. He had short brown hair parted on the side. You don’t forget.

Years later, when we talked about sexual assault in classes I taught, a guy in the back row (it was always a smiling guy, a guy who liked a good joke) would raise his hand and say, Why don’t you just try to enjoy it? He meant rape.

A guy twice your size holds you down, pulls off your clothes, forces his fingers or his dick inside you. Inside YOU, buddy, inside YOUR body. Would you enjoy that?

What’s to enjoy? The shock, the fear, the violation; the violence (and always the potential for additional, terrible, unfathomable hurt).

That day I kept I walking. A little faster. At the end of the block I turned away from Cross Street, in toward the campus.  It was then that I allowed myself to look.  No, he was gone.

I have not experienced what women feel, but I have an intimation. I know that you do not forget.

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Get Thee to a Bakery

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“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” my wife says.

It’s a sunny Saturday morning, early September.  I’m climbing a ladder leaned up against the house. It’s that time of year. The air has begun to change; it’s both crisp and faintly rotten-smelling. Where we live we are rich in cottonwoods, proving that riches can also be a curse. Trees with big leaves, cottonwoods start unleaving early in the fall. Our trees are mature, tall beasts.  The eaves and gutters on the house are already full. Up on the ladder, I’m on clog patrol. Continue reading

There Will Be Horses

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This girl I was dating in high school decided we should go horseback riding. We’d talked on the phone a lot. We’d gone to see to a few movies. We’d made out at a couple of garage parties. Our relationship was moving along.

“Riding,” I said.

She had friends who were very horse positive. A bunch of them had gone riding a few times before. It was so fun. Continue reading

A Reading at Hannan House

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Happy to be reading at Hannan House, 4750 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan on September 16, 2018, 2-4 p.m.  Music, open mic first. Then the reading.

They say, “He’s funny, warm, and peevish.” Yup, that’s me.

 

T-shirts, Cobblers, Invasive Species

Finishing lunch I turn to my wife and smile big. “Do I have fleas in my teeth?”

It’s a potential danger up north, where fruit flies appear out of nowhere, dive into your wine glass, and drown. In the last ten minutes I’ve probably swallowed a couple of them

“No.”

“You didn’t look.”

I smile, she looks. “No.”

I know what she’s thinking: Peach cobbler. Up here I think water, lake, swim. She thinks dessert, fruit, peach cobbler. And for good reason. Years past we have had late summer cobblers with late summer fruits—to wit, peaches—that are memorable. That’s understatement for her. More than mere memorable, they are shining moments. This year we have come up short. Continue reading

Oxtail, Head-air, and a Swim

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At dinner last night I had a piece of Lake Superior trout with oxtail on top of it.  Five green beans and a fried polenta ball with roasted corn inside. Nifty.

To my knowledge I’ve only had oxtail once, in Rome, when my daughter was having a semester abroad in college. She and I ate lunch one day in Trastevere. A chef buddy back home named Franco had spoken appreciatively of Trastevere. Ballanno, cantanno. Non lavora nessuno.  They sing, they dance. Nobody works.   Continue reading

Zucchini Flower Risotto

This is zucchini flower risotto revisited. The one my wife made the other day was with brown rice, which meant a long cook and a risotto that didn’t have that velvety, gooey consistency that makes you consider executing a faceplant.

Yesterday she used arborio rice. Velvet, check. Goo, check. Faceplant, suffice to say I got low. But we had friends over for lunch. Also yesterday a little bit of saffron, which imparts a richer color. But taste, I just don’t know. What saffron tastes like. Further research is required.

Those zucchini chips you see, thin thin thin. And the blossom, faded orange in color, may be one of the most delicate, most appealing of ingredients. Though I would also argue essentially without much flavor. Pure sex appeal. Otherwise little substance.

Tizi also makes a fritter with these blossoms, beer batter. They are to die for, but again, you bite and ask, What’s a zucchini flower taste like? the batter’s the think. Probably a beer batter fritter with paper towel instead of blossom would be just as good.

The Pizza: Simple to Complex

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For dinner one night we find our way to Casa del Sole.  It’s a country house outside of Pesaro.  We’re 15-20 miles inland, where the gentle hills rising to Urbino begin, far enough from the sea to know we’ll be eating meat.

“We haven’t been to this place before,” my wife’s cousin says.

“But my sister has,” his wife adds.  “Si mangia bene.”

That’s good enough for us. Continue reading

Spiritual Peril

One of my first recollections of grappa dates back more than thirty years. My wife and I joined a friend and her husband for dinner down in Villa Verucchio, at a place called Casa Zanni. One part butcher shop, nine parts restaurant, Zanni is known for its meats. That night, after warming up with tagliatelle al ragu, we probably had a mixed grill: castrato, which is a cut of young lamb, pork ribs, and sausage.

At the end of the meal Fiorenzo said he would like a digestivo, a “grappina,” a little grappa. The Italian diminutive makes just about anything seem attractive. I pictured a small glass, maybe the size of a thimble. Bring one for me too, I told the waiter. Continue reading