Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Culinary School and Affairs

Despite the fact that the first two months of culinary school we were basically displaced, having just ended a significant two year relationship with a live-in boyfriend (Talented Boyfriend), we managed to carry through with success. Our car contained most of our belongings in those first months as it sat parked all day in the college parking lot while we attended class; though we had a bed to sleep in, we did not unpack it until about a week before we had to pack it up again, and move in with Partner In Crime and her husband in another part of the city.

To be honest we were pretty much displaced for the first nine months, and throughout all of culinary education we had to change the address on our school records eight times within those two years. We did a lot of couch surfing, temporary renting, and for eight months we lived with a man we were dating. They/The We managed to keep it together pretty well without my assistance, which surprises me.

The Other Girl mourned their breakup with Talented Boyfriend, and nearly got back together with him, but he decided he would not be able to trust her again, that if she had left once, she would do it again – he had no clue about her kissing another man. In the end it was indeed for the better because there is really not one among us that can maintain a lie for long when we care about someone – eventually we would end up telling the truth had we gotten back together, that we had kissed his friend; or we would have destroyed the relationship completely in some other way, moving on to avoid having to hurt him.

With so much going on, starting a new school, making new friends, it took the edge off of the loss The Other Girl felt over the breakup with Talented Boyfriend; who she would see several times over the next few years, as they shared a circle of acquaintances, a group of friends that The Other Girl had created from his acquaintances.

The first day of orientation for culinary school we met Partner In Crime. We remember that day well and for a very funny reason; while being given a tour of the facility she was always walking in front of us. She is very short, about 5’1”, and that day she was wearing very high heels on which her small frame teetered, but the most remarkable asset was her ass. It is a fairly large ass for such a tiny person, and we marvelled over it; in a good way, but not necessarily a sexual way.

She’ll laugh if, and when, she reads that, because just like her ability to acknowledge everything about herself with honesty (something we admire in her): her faults, her weaknesses, her personality traits; she is also a self-proclaimed loud, and opinionated, woman; and boy, can she proclaim. For such a small person she has got a set of lungs and an amazing pitch that would surprise anyone. Partner In Crime has told us several times that throughout her whole life teachers, and parents, have always had to remind her to use her inside voice. Instructors in culinary school would comment on how you could hear her coming all the way from the other departments.

It was the first day of orientation, and we were eating lunch, sitting meekly at a table shared by Partner In Crime and two other students from out faculty who, while they were our friends for awhile over the course of college, do not and have not played a big role in our life, so we will refer to them as Young Gay Man and Red Head.

Seated in the cafeteria of the college that day, we knew we were going to be fast friends with her when the first topic of conversation she brought up was anal sex and strap-ons. Keep in mind, nobody at this table knew each other, we had all literally met during orientation – this is how bold and uninhibited she is. Inappropriate is not a word familiar to her on most occasions. We love that about her.

The girl sitting a seat over from Partner In Crime that had been reading a book paused and eyed this petite, very loud woman who was openly and loudly inquiromg to Young Gay Man about his sex life and general topics of gay sex – there were no euphemisms, there was no slang. There were words like “anal sex” and “strap-ons” and “fucking” flying through the air. It was all any of us could do not to giggle ferociously, from her, and from the reaction of those sitting within earshot, which, given her loudness…extended pretty far across the cafeteria.

The four of us became fast friends for the first few weeks, and hung out quite a bit the first year. But as is the trend with culinary school, a huge dropout rate followed the required work placement in the third term, and we lost most of our contact with Young Gay Man.

Partner In Crime and us were sort of a notorious “two-some” among the instructors, and for the most part they seemed to enjoy us. We, and Partner In Crime, were two of the oldest and most outspoken students; we were always ready to give our opinion; and one of Us, being the flirt that she can be, used to do her best to try to make one of the instructors we had a crush on squirm uncomfortably, as much as possible.

One of our “faults”, if one was to ask about us as students in this program, was our brutal honesty. We would get in trouble for critiquing food too harshly; one instructor in particular felt the need to address the entire class because of a critique we had given a student in the same graduating year, but in “section two”.

Both sections of students got a lecture that day simply because we gave our honest opinion on a “special of the day” dish another had made. We were confused by this because most of us believe that without critique how is one to know where to improve? In addition we had paid for the meal and felt we had a right to an opinion, but we digress.

Yes, we understand it may sting a bit, possibly “hurt their feelings”, which was his reasoning for the lecture. The instructor also felt that it would be discouraging – which, given that a year and a half later when it came time to graduate and the student still had not improved, nor had they retained much practical knowledge…was an indication that perhaps they could have used some extra criticism, or discouragement. It was surprising though because culinary arts instructors tend to be harsh; it just so happened that this one was not.

This outspoken opinion set the tone for that instructor and how he felt about us as a student as we entered into his class the following term, and while initially the student-instructor relationship was difficult, he got to know our personality types and all was well; we earned a nickname that at the time we were pretty proud of, but sadly none of us can recall clearly as we sit here and write, though we do know that it was indicative of our physical stature and demeanour (tall, powerful…perhaps in some opinion, sexy … maybe it had something to do with “Amazon”)

Partner In Crime and us ended up having a brief affair in culinary school, despite the fact that she was married to Rat Bastard; a man I did not know enough about until this past Monday when having drinks with her while she was in town on business.

One evening in particular we had quite the sexual adventure on her living room floor, while Rat Bastard observed from a perch on the landing of their second story stairs, drinking a glass of milk. Other than the fantastic girl-on-girl sex, the only detail that got carried through from this event was that glass of milk and how odd it was that that was his choice of drink for such an occasion. It’s only worth mentioning for the humour factor.

Unhappily married, Partner In Crime started online chatting with some other girls on the East Coast and took flights to see them, and we were hurt; one night her husband came over to visit us and we had (very unsatisfying) sex with him. I don’t know why The Other Girl did it, to this day it baffles all of us; from what I have met of him he’s not attractive OR interesting…and he’s a verbally, mentally and physically abusive asshole from what I learned this last Monday, something The Other Girl was apparently privy to.

Eventually they would get a divorce because Partner In Crime would start an affair with a man she decided to leave her husband for. We remain friends with her to this day because when two girls who come from similar broken backgrounds find each other and form a connection, it’s hard to break. She remains one of the most adventurous, honest and “crazy” woman we have ever met. She told us this past week, and we agree, that if we had been serious together we would have destroyed the beautiful friendship we have to this day.

It took us until recently, 4 years later, before we told Partner In Crime what had happened, that The Other Girl, that we, had slept with her husband. We were scared, but we needed to tell her, we couldn’t hang on to the secret any longer – every time we saw her one of us fixated on what had happened and it was destroying her (Ivy). Partner In Crime was initially shocked, but forgave us as we cried over our glass of gin and water on the rooftop patio of a local restaurant.

A few months after we started culinary school we did the online dating thing and among the men we met we found one that apparently one of us found interesting. He was…nice, but given that the year long relationship with him he earned him the nickname Dreadfully Boring Boyfriend (DBB). The most interesting thing about him was that he worked for an airline company and we got to take a trip once; and that he left us with his house while he took trips to foreign countries and we would secretly have house parties.

While dating Dreadfully Boring Boyfriend (DBB), which at this point was over four years ago, we met Standby; a name that may sound familiar to anybody who has been reading the recent stories of our life these roughly past six months.

Standby was a long time friend of DDB. Where DBB was dreadfully boring and not much interested in us on a daily basis, Standby was very much the opposite. We became fast friends and about seven months after we became friends with him we started sleeping with him while remaining in the relationship with DBB. It’s sad, but true, that he made us feel special, and beautiful – and it was about the point in the relationship with DBB we realized we did not have it in us, financially or mentally, to try to find another place to live; nor to invest anymore of ourselves into the relationship.

This was also the time we met The Non Bestie, a woman who The Other Girl became best friends with, and a group of other people who she would party with, and travel with a lot over the years following her culinary school graduation.

The affair with Standby happened at almost the same time we met a girl we’ll call Firecracker, a long time friend of Standby, and long time love interest of his from University days. She was very pretty, with red hair, pale skin, curvy and had a great laugh. And to be honest, her nickname is derived from how good she was in bed. She was a firecracker.

It happened quiet innocently, as one might (not) suspect. It was Standbys birthday and he had a party at his apartment, we met her that night for the first time. Firecracker had drank a little too much and was sleepy, so Standby sent her to his bed, hoping that this would eventually, when the night grew to a close, lead to the fulfillment of a long time wish. Myself, also being tired, was sent to take temporary respite with Firecracker and went to lay next to her in the bed.

While the specifics are fuzzy, we do know that she was the initiator…rubbing her leg against ours as we lay next to each other in Standbys double bed; giggling and indicating her interest in a variety of ways.

The next morning she wore home a shirt we has packed in our overnight bag, an old grey ARMY t-shirt salvaged from The Other Girls’ relationship with a man she dated and loved while living in the Northwest of the United States; the man The Other Girl dated before meeting her husband.

The next couple of months were fun, going for walks in the park, kissing under trees, steaming up the windows of her SUV in parks around the city; spending the night at her house and making dinner with her and her son.

When we ended the relationship because of its complicated three-way nature; we were sleeping with both her and Standby (and another man) at the time but The Other Girl was in love with Standby, Standby was in love with Firecracker, and she was in love with us. The day we broke up with her was hard as she tearfully told us she loved us. She was angry about it and she disposed of the t-shirt she had refused to give us back, the t-shirt that The Other Girl had held on to for nearly 10 years.

We were the first woman Firecracker had ever “gone all the way with”, and as such she fell for us pretty hard. While we had been her first “girlfriend”, she now lives openly as a lesbian; we’d like to think we had some part in that discovery.

All of this had somehow coincided with us seeing another man we will briefly reference as Organic Grower, who happens to raise organic vegetables and work at a local restaurant where we had done our first work experience for our culinary degree. One of us had liked him a great deal, he was into food and cooking and we had a lot in common with him, but he has not been looking for a relationship when we became single, so our affair, while memorable, was brief.

It really was a terrible situation, given we were in a relationship with Desperately Boring Boyfriend the entire time, and while the entire “thing”, the affairs, only lasted about two months, it came time to end the relationship when on our one-year anniversary we went to dinner and we got home DBB pulled out our handcuffs. He had decided that after months of not having sex with us that this was the way he was going to innate anniversary sex. We immediately felt uncomfortable, not having been physical with him in so long, and as we sat on his lap in his office, on our one year anniversary, we broke up with a man who for some reason had intended on marrying us one day. In reality we saved him from a second divorce.

Back at school The Other Girl struggled again with concentration and while she had tried to hide the learning disability that we had acquired from our car accident three years prior, being the proud bunch that The Other Girl tried to portray us as, we finally reached a breaking point in our struggle and got admitted into the disability services at the college, like we had at the University we attended when we moved the city and studied nutrition. It was always a difficult thing for The Other Girl to admit, having never had learning problems like she had developed after the accident.

About our last term of Culinary School The Other Girl started smoking cigarettes again, a habit we had kicked easily 5 years prior, before the car accident and our weight loss. To say I was disappointed about this, that the smoking had started again, would be an understatement, and when I became fully part of the picture and in charge this past January, it was one of the first things I got her to stop.

I can understand on some level why she started smoking again, the stress of the final year of culinary school and the physical problems she was having; she never was much of a drinker, otherwise she may have turned there first.

One day during a six week period of meat cutting in her last year of culinary school her back had reached its limit of pain; she would go to empty classrooms and on the carpeted floors would lie on her back to ease the pain.

One day in particular stands out in our mind. She had woken up with some pain and about 20 minutes into the meat cutting class that day had to sit outside the room on the bench along the wall. There she sat and cried from the pain pulsing through her back and legs, tears rolling down her face, scared and thinking about how her future would turn out with all this pain.

The instructor of the course pulled her aside, and in an empty lunchroom of the department told her that he had noticed her pain issues over the terms and he didn’t think that she would physically be able to handle being in the kitchen for more than ten years, given her severe back pain. He told her that she should try to find something else in the industry to do, suggesting working in the front of the house (which is to say, not the kitchen), or some other aspect of the industry.

Tearfully she told him that this is what she wanted to do, she loved to cook; she was naturally good at it and it was perhaps the only thing she felt she was capable of doing, and at her age she needed to start a career. He stood by his word and warned about the physical problems that were to come, based on his own experience with a healthy back.

The Other Girl was stubborn and she wouldn’t change her mind about cooking for a living.

Standby remained our friend after the ending of the relationship with Desperately Boring Boyfriend, and we slept on the floor of his living room for a couple of months before finding yet another temporary rental where we would live until we finished out our culinary degree.

While we had ended our affair with Firecracker because of the complexity of the three-way love triangle that she, Standby and we had become, despite our love for Standby; when given the choice he decided to pursue a relationship with Firecracker, instead of us and he ended up being the last man she would try to have a relationship with before coming out as a lesbian.

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