Blood & Olive Oil

I’m at the top of my stairs with a pair of scissors in one hand and a dozen roses in the other. My fingers are bleeding, but it’s dark out so it’s not the puddle of blood that’s off-putting so much as the fact that my dog is at my ankle sniffing it.

I turn on the patio light to examine a rose’s stem. I’ve lost track of which ones I’ve trimmed. My dog laps up some blood, coughs, then trots inside to watch TV.

Having spent the weekend in the country, (under the too hot February sun, drinking too much red wine) it now seems that I should pack up the house behind me and drive 85 miles north to make a life for myself as an olive farmer. I’ll be tan, wear Carharrt overalls and reek of small batch extra virgin olive oil.


I’ll string together a narrative for the back of the bottle for my Sunday farmers’ market pitch.

I was born of olive mongers. It’s in my blood. My grandfather came to this country with nothing, but an olive pit, a cold press machine and a recipe in the language of the old country tattooed on his forearm. His eldest son, my father, would get the same tattoo. As would I,” I say, rolling up my sleeve to display the family recipe.

And why wouldn’t they believe me?

I’ll point to a black and white photo of nine presumably Mediterranean men with dark, curly hair and eyes varying from green to hazel. “My great uncles. My forebears,” I’ll say, choking up a bit. “That’s the family farm. It’s still there, but the harvest was never the same after the war.”

They’ll nod knowingly, maybe even put a hand on my shoulder, but have no idea what war I’m referring to. I don’t know which war I’m referring to.

“Yo, you order a pizza, man?”

My dream of farmer’s-markets-to-come is interrupted by a ruddy man wearing a Dead Kennedys shirt.

“Yes,” I say. “Can you hold these for a second?” I thrust a dozen roses into his hand. He’s not pleased, but fuck him. Those roses are delicate and should be treated as such.

I take the pizza and I cross into my living room where I pass my dog. She’s watching an episode of “30 for 30” on Jimmy Connors. It’s a good one.

I hand the ruddy man the requisite cash and take back my roses. “Long stems. Beautiful, but they’re a real pain the ass.” He lingers, presumably admiring the roses. “They’re eighty centimeter stems if you’re wondering.”

“Dude, your hands…”

I pick up the scissors again and do a bit of dethorning. “You’re lucky you’re in the pizza delivery business. Good racket. Personally, I’m thinking about getting into olive oil.”

He starts to back away so I take another step toward him, all the while whittling away thorns. “Maybe you can tell by looking at me, but I actually come from a long line of olive oil purveyors.

A drop of my blood falls at his feet. He turns and starts running across my front yard.

“My grandfather came to this country,” I call out, “with nothing but an olive pit–” But he’s out of earshot. I turn around and head back up the stairs, following the trail of blood to the door. I can’t remember if I ordered cheese or pepperoni.

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