“Hello, beautiful woman,” he welcomed me.
“You look so tired,” I said.
“Yeah. I’ve been napping, working and napping.”
I took the booze and cigarettes and set them down on the counter in the kitchen. Burton followed me into the kitchen and poured us two whiskeys.
He swaddled me with his limbs as we collapsed on the couch. I was blissed out on his affection and whiskey.
“You’re so smitten!” he said with a huge smile.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “I’m always like this. How am I acting differently than I normally do?”
“You’re just being really affectionate.”
I shrugged shyly.
“Last night was really fun,” I said. “I had a really nice conversation with Grace. We had a good time.”
“Yeah, she said you guys got along swimmingly,” he smiled.
“Liam didn’t seem to be having much fun,” I said.
“I think their days are numbered,” he said.
“Grace mentioned that if it weren’t for the sex, she’d cut him loose.”
“Oh I know all about that. He’s just not fun enough for her.”
“Poor Liam,” I said. and quickly changed the subject. “You know, I really like Marty.”
Burton smirked. “That would be an interesting coupling.”
“He’s nice,” I said. “And very engaging.”
“Well, I can’t like Marty,” he said. “He was engaged to Grace, you know.”
“I just know too much about him. He’s like my brother. He has his own version of the truth.”
“But that was when he was doing a lot of drugs. He’s been sober for three years now.”
“Because of my friendship with Grace, I could never see him as a good person.”
“You don’t have to.”
“Thank you,” he said sarcastically.
We continued to drink and get silly with intermittent making out before we ordered dinner.
We got what Burton called Mediterranean slop. That phrasing made me cringe, but the food was ambrosial. He got the chicken shwarma and I got the vegetarian platter. I grazed and we watched a standup special from Demetri Martin. It made me giggle.
The evening took its natural course; the bed seemed to be magnetized as we packed up the food.
“There’s a lot of food left over. Will you come over this week and help me eat it?”
“Sure,” I said as I checked my phone.
“Oh. Interesting,” I said. “Marty emailed me.”
“Oh really?” Burton said with all the sarcasm he could force into two words. “What’d he say?”
“He wants to get coffee.”
“He wants to go out with you.”
“I don’t think so.”
“What did he write?”
I read it to him, leaving off the part that said “Hey Brooks, It’s Marty.” I liked him, but I was embarrassed that he’d included something so… obvious.
“So I was serious when I told you I wanted to take a look at your cookbook progress if you’re still game for sharing. Wondering if you wanted to go for a coffee sometime this week and you can bring a copy with you – I’m curious. Hope the rest of your night went well… & nice seeing you. Marty”
I was a little embarrassed for him that he had to point out “this is Marty.” I wished I skipped over that part when I read it out loud.
“That is a date,” he said and then as if I didn’t hear him the first time he said sternly with a smile on his face, “That is a date. If you go out with one of my coworkers, tell me.”
“I don’t want to go out with Marty.”
“If. You. Go. Out. With. One. Of. My. Coworkers. Tell. Me.”
“That hurts my feelings,” I said as I went to the bathroom. I had forgotten to look before, but this time I noticed that he got rid of the tampons that I had asked to remove the week before. He wanted to get over it, I thought, relieved. Hopefully, that was the last if the evidence of his ex that he had.
When I returned, I picked up where I left off.
“It hurts my feelings that you don’t care if I go out with other people,” I said.
“Listen, I am NOT seeing anyone else. By saying ‘tell me if you go out with one of my coworkers’ I’m saying ‘I don’t want you to go out with one of my coworkers.’”
“OK,” I said. “How should I respond?”
“Don’t respond at all. If you email him, he’s won. You’ll open dialog.”
“That feels rude. We have friends in common.”
“Do not respond.”
The truth was, I totally would have gone out with Marty if it wasn’t for Burton. A nice guy who’s fun and doesn’t drink was appealing to me. But I liked Burton, the drinker/smoker. A bad boy. Such a cliche.
We went to bed when our show ended. Burton took a sleeping pill and a pain pill for his back. I slept fine but I didn’t have to work. He didn’t sleep at all and had to be at work at ten o’clock.
We got up and I dressed. Burton walked me to the door and kissed me.
“Bye, beautiful woman,” he smiled. That smile made me melt every single time.
“I’ll see you later.”
I walked home, covered in cat hair and smelling like an ashtray. I took a shower and settled into the kitchen with fantasies of making cinnamon rolls from a recipe that the New York Times published earlier in the week. I wanted to do a test run before I tried them on the kids.
10:41 AM me: So Marty emailed me. And asked me to coffee.
10:42 AM Lena: He asked Bryan for your email so we were wondering…! Cute guy!
Lena: !!!! 🙂
10:44 AM me: Yeah, but I’m still seeing Burton.
me: I don’t know how to respond. Burton said not to respond at all but that feels rude.
10:52 AM me: why what?
Lena: Why would Burton say to blow him off? Are you and Burton exclusively dating? If so, wouldn’t you at least write and say you’re seeing someone?
10:53 AM I like Marty so I wouldn’t blow him off.
10:54 AM me: I think that Burton knows a lot about him because of Grace and it’s not good stuff.
10:56 AM We had a discussion about exclusivity last night. He’s not seeing anyone else but I don’t think that means we’re exclusive
10:57 AM and he said he didn’t want me to go out with Marty.
Lena: I understand that, but why wouldn’t you email back and say “I’m seeing Burton, so it’s probably not a good idea.”?
10:58 AM me: I don’t know what the logic was.
Lena: What Burton’s logic was?
me: right. Does this sound like a date to you?
I shared his email with Lena.
11:10 AM I mean, he’s working on something for Schwinn and I think I offered to talk to him about it
11:11 AM so it’s possible that he really just wants to have coffee
11:12 AM Lena: Oh. Then he probably wants to talk with you about the writing. I would take it at face value. If it comes up you can casually mention Burton.
11:13 AM me: Burton said it was definitely a date. I’m not a dude, so I have no idea.
11:14 AM But if Margaret knew, it would drive her crazy.
11:39 AM Lena: hahaha
11:40 AM me: I wish I could tell her. It would be hilarious.
3:19 PM me: are you busy? may I ask your advice on something?
adam: You certainly may
me: so, you know Marty Fusco, obviously
3:20 PM I saw him the other night and chatted with him a bit
adam: Obviously. Yeah; he’s a nice chap. Very intelligent
3:21 PM me: I told him about the cookbook I’m writing and he told me that he’s working on a project for schwinn and I was drunk, of course
me: and I offered to talk to him about bikes for his project so he said he wanted to read my cookbook
3:23 PM me: anyway, he got my email address from Bryan
And I got this email from him last night…
3:24 PM me: is that a date?
adam: It’s difficult to tell; he seems to be going out of his way to make it look like it’s not so that makes me think maybe.
3:26 PM And she told me that she’d up for going for a drink but wanted to make it clear that she was seeing someone
So that could be something you do here
3:27 PM me: Who? Grace?
adam: Yes, Grace
3:28 PM me: So Burton said that it was absolutely a date and doesn’t think I should respond at all.
But I think that’s rude.
3:29 PM adam: You should do whatever the heck you want.
3:32 PM me: OK, yeah. I’ll just be honest. Thanks, Adam.
3:33 PM So did you end up getting drinks with Grace after she told you she was seeing someone?
3:34 PM adam: I didn’t, no
adam: It was a very casual testing of the waters thing
3:44 PM I’d see her out and she’d be incredibly flirty with me but apparently she is that way with everyone when she is drinking
me: Yeah, she was flirty with me.
The cinnamon rolls weren’t very good. They weren’t as soft as I like my cinnamon rolls to be. Too dense. I would have to come up with another recipe as well as an email to Marty.
This what I sent:
“Hello, Marty. I don’t know if I’m ready to show anyone (that I haven’t already recruited to edit it) my work so far. I’m having a little trouble with keeping my voice consistent. But I’ll let you know when it’s ready.
I would like to get coffee — and I don’t want to be presumptuous — but I am seeing someone. I feel like an asshole saying that, but I just wanted to lay that out there. But I’m very interested in what you’re going to do with Schwinn. That sounds super-fun.”
I understand about the inconsistent voice thing – it happens to me as well at work sometimes. As far as coffee goes, yeah, i was wondering if you were seeing someone but my invite stands regardless. Let me know sometime that works and it’s on me.
Marty’s response came back in a flash.. but it took me a week to come up with the perfect recipe for cinnamon rolls.
For the Rolls:
- 1/2 cup whole milk (warmed — about 20 seconds in the microwave is good)
- 2 TB granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 2 TB unsalted butter, melted, plus ½ TB to coat the dough as it rises
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the cinnamon spread:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1.5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 TB milk
- 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
In a bowl fitted to a stand mixer, add the granulated sugar and milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk and let it stand for five minutes. Add the flour, salt and cardamom and mix on medium-low speed using the hook attachment for five minutes. Whisk together the vanilla, egg yolk and 2 TB melted butter (it shouldn’t be hot — you don’t want to scramble the yolk). Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and continued mixing until everything is well-combined. The dough should be sticky. Remove the dough from the bowl to gently work it on a lightly floured surface to make a ball. Place the remaining melted butter in a medium bowl. Add the dough and roll it in the butter to coat it. Cover the bowl in plastic and let it rise for one hour.
Pre-heat oven to 350℉. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle. Brush the 3 TB of melted butter over the entire rectangle. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the butter. Roll the dough up so you have a long cylinder. Slice off pieces (the rolls) about one inch thick. You should get about 12. Brush a 9” cake pan with butter and place the pieces of dough in the pan. There will be space between each of the rolls. Let the rolls rise for another 30 minutes.
Bake rolls for about 25 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are a golden brown.
Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, milk and butter to make the icing.
Pour the icing over the rolls while they’re still warm.
This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and then baked when you’re ready. When the dough is sliced and placed in the pan, cover it and refrigerate it overnight. Remove the pan from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking to bring it up to room temperature.