Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Every Gal’s Pretend Husband: The Butcher

You might think that four pretend husbands would be more than enough to please any woman, and that just might be if I saw them more often. I do get to see Boo Radley a lot, but that’s only because he won’t leave my house and, oh yeah, is a cat. The other three, alas, are free agents. Two of them, Ed Head and Hank Fitz, are so obnoxiously free they even board planes and take long vacations. And while Mack the Cowboy never takes a vacation, he doesn’t need to—he just takes a powder. After which time I do get to see him, after which time he takes another. Basically, I see him in between powders. 

Which is just one reason I so adore butchers. Butchers make perfect fake husbands and they do not take powders, or, when they must, they leave kindly replacements so their lonely fake wives won't feel   abandoned. Indeed, I think all butchers learn this as part of their professional training. First there’s “How to Break Down The Carcass,” then there’s “How to Be Nice to Women. “ They’re even nice to the women who sport genuine husbands, which, if you ask me, is gilding the lily. But never mind that. Let us speak now of the small hearts of chickens and forget, for a while, the small hearts of cowboys.

As everyone of a certain age knows, chickens used to come with a paper packet inside, a packet containing three thrilling gems: the chicken’s heart, gizzard, and liver. As the only person I’ve ever met who didn’t hurl these organs into the garbage (or, alternatively, into the cat dish), I used to put them in the oven along with the bird and, twelve minutes later, eat my savory secrets with the great greed and gusto that comes with eating alone in the kitchen. Then, one day while I wasn’t looking, the packet, not unlike youth, disappeared.

Then, once again while I wasn’t looking, chicken hearts themselves disappeared. My favorite market still sells gizzards and livers in bulk, but one day I noticed they didn’t have hearts. Not that I really wanted to fry up a pan full of tiny penile-shaped muscles to toss with fresh butter and herbs and linguini (or did I?), I just wanted to know that they were still there, that they hadn’t, in fact, taken a powder.

“Where are the hearts?” I asked one of my favorites, the butcher who looks like the dad on the original “Beverly Hills 90210” and speaks with a perfect radio voice.
He explained that no one bought them any more, but that they could, if I needed them, be special ordered.

If I Needed Them! See what I mean? I thought of getting a pound to split with Boo Radley, but feared he would barf them up the minute we got into bed.

“I can’t believe nobody eats them any more,” I said in perfect Aging Person Lament.

“Me neither,” he said, with an A.P.L. sigh.

“Do you eat them?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “I used to barbecue them in the back yard.” 

I pictured this a moment. “They didn’t fall through the grill?”

“No. I made them into a shish kabob.”

And then, because butchers make such flawless fake husbands, we discussed what he used to put in his marinade, our mutual disdain for ruining shish kabobs by adding on chunks of stupid green pepper; and the revelation that his family might have loved his barbecued burgers, but would not touch those (talk about metaphors) hot skewered hearts with a ten foot, well, skewer.

While I, of course, would have eaten them all--indeed would have fought him for every last one.