Fucking T.S.

So Long, February!  Let us all heave a sigh of relief and raise a big full cup for the passing of the dourest month of year.

This February has been a particularly onerous out here in Colorado where we’re accustomed to tons of sun with our winter. But judging by my general crankiness, I’d say the number of days lighting my face this month has been easily snipped in two. I know half the U.S. has been laboring under the polar vortex, and while we’ve nothing like that here in Colorado, this February has been the cloudiest in recent memory. That’s a tough “cell” for people living in what is essentially the banana belt of the West.  No sun: No fun.  I stomp through my days, growl at my students, hang a scowl on my face.

But then I plot my small revenge with a little naughtiness:  An evening of bawdy poetry and lusty food with a cast of cheeky characters.

For two full decades, I’ve been shooting the finger at the way too serious and way too verbose Modernist who famously and poetically proclaimed “April is the cruelest month” while also lightening what is decidedly the heaviest 28 days of the year with the Fuck T.S. Eliot Party.

This year, we took a bath.

I’ve long been hoarding two cans of imported salt pack anchovies to make bagna cauda (“hot bath”), a Northern Italian appetizer made from olive oil, butter, garlic and the deboned fish, that my family ate as a celebratory meal during the winter months. 
It’s the perfect party food:  You stand around a heated earthenware pot or electric skillet and cook sirloin, shrimp, and raw vegetables while drinking red wine, using a thick piece of chewy ciabatta for a plate. 


There is a suitcase heavy with traditions that goes with the eating of what is affectionately called “BC” in my family, but this year, free of family constructs, I injected some new ideas of my own. While my Italian father preferred prepared veggies like canned asparagus and marinated artichoke hearts, I served the more traditional fennel, along with raw asparagus, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, all of which cook quite nicely in the anchovy-laced hot bath.

The evening started with one of my traditions:  The T.S. Eliot toast.  Everyone raised a bit to bubbly and shouted “Fuck T.S.!” and then we ate oysters and asparagus, which not only open the palate, but recall other pleasingly naughty parts.

Then we had a little hot bath.  After everyone had eaten their plates (the final act of a BC), we retired to my living room (just two steps away) to read naughty poems—including a whole host of Gay Haikus and e.e. cummings’ “may I feel said he”--eating chocolate dipped coconut macaroons and licking our fingers.

It was perfect.

So long, February!

   



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