“This vegetarian cooking is all new to me,” my mother-in-law sighs, her palms turned up in askance. I have been with her son for nearly 13 years, the entirety of that time as a vegetarian. But let us not allow such pesky details to come into play.
In preparation of our visit this time, my mother-in-law has gone out and bought all kinds of crazy things – Exotic items like beans and brown rice and hummus. You have to give her credit. She's doing her very best. She even found me gluten-free bread. And a strange food known, she'd told, as polenta. She buys these things, despite their complete foreignness in her world, and then, she turns the reigns over to fate.
Mike, for example, had to save the polenta from imminent disposal. It went something like this:
“Do you know what this is?” (She holds the yellow log away from her face to read the label as if for the first time.) “Po-lenta? Do you eat this?”
“I don't know what to do with it. Do you want to cook it? If you don't, I'm just going to throw it away. We won't eat it.”
The crescendo-ing danger to the polenta having been spelled out in rapid succession from its introduction, Mike swings into action. He's trained for just this moment. He is not going to give it less than his all.
His body extends out, then folds into a pike position -- no one has attempted this move before!! -- as he dives with all his might, blocking the trash can -- a highly technical move!!-- and catching the modified corn meal. He hugs it to his chest just before he crashes hard on the kitchen floor (particularly slippery in today's conditions of extreme cleanliness).
The replay shows him grimacing as his left shoulder meets with the Formica counter, knocking over the wooden owl napkin holder that must be at least 40 years old. But he did. not. let. go. This is what is looks like to be a champion. This is it.
He's done it!! He's done it!! He has managed to save the polenta! Snatching it from the jaws of the trash can just in the nick of time, before it landed, forever wasted, on top of the hummus that went before it. The crowd is on its feet. The Romanian judge has given his a 9.45!
The Russian Food Saver - once the gold medal favorite -- is quoted in the press as challenging Mike's gold. Without the quadruple, he says, it is just a dance. The Koreans -- always top in the field and fierce on the playing field -- have said he doesn't deserve the medal. But Mike is gracious, calling attention to his competitors' long history in the sport, restating his pride in everyone's efforts.
Then, we all watch that fucking BMW commerical for the 500th time. And Mike slumps back into obscurity, training in a small town on the Central Coast of California.
At 41, this could have been his last chance. Unless of course he can manage to push through his Vegestan citizenship and enter the Games under their flag (which naturally features an avocado and a rice cracker) in four years. No telling what one will do for the chance at gold.
PS -- Isaac turned FIVE yesterday!! Pics to follow.