cutting onions without tears
The thing about being older is that your brain is full of memories and they keep superimposing themselves on everything you do. It's not necessarily a bad thing but it can be quite terrible.
I cut onions and I think of my friend Jenny from a long long time ago. And the only reason Jenny and I are not friends today is that time and difference have wedged us apart. She always sends christmas cards and I see her children. She has quite a few children, some are adopted and some aren't. The adopted children are dark-skinned and the others are pale and look like they could be the children of lovely people who came once from the midwest. Because they are.
Jenny was a work friend and of all the work friends I had I think she was the best because she was not sharp and mean and interested in being clever. She was of course very very clever but she was conscientious without being priggish. Once we were in Pete's Tavern and I went to the bathroom and when I came back Jenny told me that a man down the end of the bar had bought me a drink. I drank the drink a bit concerned about when this man was going to say or do something. And he never did. Because he hadn't bought the drink and he had no notion perhaps that I was even alive. Jenny told me that if you put vinegar on a cutting board when you are cutting onions you will not cry. Jenny was taking cooking courses at the time. I don't know any other single women who lived in New York in the 80s who took cooking classes. Most of my other friends were going to bars. I took classes but in writing which seems to me nothing like taking cooking classes. I don't think I scorned the classes, but I was puzzled by them. I could cook. I could cook the kinds of things my mother cooked and I didn't really imagine I could ever learn to cook anything much fancier than that.
Every time I cut onions I think of Jenny. And there is a pleasure in that. I also don't cry.