Fresh crunchy organic creamy spicy tangy worthy invigorating unnerving realizing once again you’ve made it, baby! This is it. We’ve been watching you, and once again you’ve done it! It’s just another hill for you to climb, and only now can you find the pyramid the way you REALLY want it! 😉 Hey girl, we know what it’s like, and for once you’ve got us on your side. Don’t forget the harmony of fresh dill and tangy chipotle – spread liberally on salads, pepper your stews aggressively with this one-time offer! One-time offer at the mercantile, rows and rows of treasured porcelain tax deductions, all at your fingertips. The road wraps up toward the tire place, leaving you with only the barest fragment of this absolutely unforgettable olive tapenade, now with a little grain of salt!
Category: inside door of fridge. Half empty hideous row of bloody shades suggesting life and sun: a tuscan red, an ochre, bits of chard and pepper flakes that float to the top. Paul Newman’s kindly, sickening face. The face of good intentions. The shape of hips in beveled plastic, imitation decanters. Performance of luxury. Always crust around the cap, because they often go unused: in my experience, salad dressing is purchased nearly exclusively as a desperate talisman of a kitchen-island lifestyle, wooden cutting boards with a well-earned patina, granite countertops, glass bowls and sliced tomatoes, good friends and better wine, women laughing toothily over chardonnay in the wan light of the edison bulb. When I buy salad dressing, it’s a transparently aspirational gesture. I’m buying myself a ticket to an impossible fantasy. Sontag writes of photography as a pedestrian method of making work of leisure, i.e. the labor of the collector of images, dividing experience into tangible bits. Imagine those bits floating in oil.
Mom bought books on weight loss by the dozen. Mostly used, from local thrift stores – we would go to this place by the bridge, Second Chance, playfully haunted by the cloud that condenses around things just too old to be useful. You know what I mean, not the kind of old you curate, the kind of old that happens to an object: tawny muck accumulating in the grooves of as-seen-on-tv kitchen gadgets (set it and forgot it!), a musty sweetness clung to crowded racks of bedazzled camisoles and double-breasted sports coats, the uncanny tinge of yellow at the edge of the paperback, “She Loves Him,” with a rose in cheap relief. I’d watch this woman who I love so much bent over crates of discarded books, choosing with a secret critical machinery from endless and identical selections of weight-loss guides, fad diets, compendiums of recipes and meal plans, fat-free, sugar-free, zero-carb. Paper talismans she’d quietly collect by the dozen, keep them in an infinite warren of imitation rosewood cabinets with stained-glass doors.
Mom was always comfy in her oversized hoodies, performance fleece, hid her body under heavy cotton and behind closed doors, taking baths for hours with her true crime novels collected in thoughtless towers from the local library, these and her weight loss guides with their floral stench, their acrylic promise of a better life, their platitudes and saccharines, the choke of a thousand Glade plug-ins. These are some of the pillars of my mother’s hidden temple, and its sacred oil: salad dressing. Multiple bottles, brands and flavors, all alike in their declarations of “low-calorie,” “fat-free,” which translated in my youth to “tastes like shit,” but that’s what women are expected to do, give up the body for the sake of the body.
Can’t believe it’s not butter? No one’s buying that. We’re all quite sure it isn’t butter. No, it’s something much more sinister than butter, it’s the promise of butter with none of its consequences. It’s the predatory whiff of a false dreaming.