So I’m standing at the sink the other night washing pots and pans. And I think “spatula” is such a strange word. Who thought of that? In a novel I was reading a while back, I recall the description of a character’s fingers as “spatulate.” That sounds Latinate, as in “of or pertaining to Latin in origin.”
These days, when I make reservations in Italy I give my wife’s maiden name. A table for four at 7:30, for Canducci. Same thing when I call the heating repair man (it’s cold in the apartment or there’s no hot water). I say, “This is Canducci on Via Olivella in Serravalle. Can you come and check out our boiler?”
I ask my wife, “What language do they speak in Macedonia?”
It’s a Friday morning. This is our pre-breakfast quiet time. Usually we don’t say much early in the morning. What is there to always say? She’s reading a book about the Spanish Civil War and drinking her first cup of coffee. I’ve just clicked off the New Yorker, which I’m partially reading online these days. Anthony Lane has yawned at “Black Mass,” the new Johnny Depp movie, comparing it and Depp, unfavorably, to “Taxi” and James Cagney. I’m about to spread fig jam on a slice of toast.
This is an excerpt from “The Soft Imperative,” a piece recently published in Thread. Thank you, Ellen Blum Barish, for your careful reading and judicious suggestions for revision.