One of my favorite collaborators is a guy I met on an elevator. Our first collaboration went into rehearsal 36 hours later.
We were participating in an event where writers are thrown together to create a short theatre piece. Teams were introduced Friday at 8; rehearsal started Sunday at noon. This fellow and I did, in fact, ride an elevator together on the way to the first meeting, making nervous chat about the project without a clue that we were going to be partnered.
Our collaboration went very well, and in the 11 years since, we’ve written several more pieces together. Just as importantly, though, we’ve become good friends. Perhaps one of the reasons we haven’t written together more often is that we have such a good time together. We end up talking more than we write. Often, the conversation is about food. I introduced him to Alton Brown’s kitchen tips; he turned me onto Mark Bittman’s Chicken with Ketchup (which is far, far better than it sounds), and convinced me that a kitchen scale was an important tool. We agree that a Fryolator is the first purchase to be made if either of us wins a major writing award.
We were talking about waffles once. “There is no day so grim,” he said, “that it cannot be redeemed by waffles for supper.” I’d never thought of it that way, but I had to admit he had a point.
Another winter storm. Another snow day. Cold, and very messy. She was going to work from home. I could wait until the roads were cleared to go to my much-closer office. The break in routine was cause for a special breakfast. It might have been pancakes, but we have those pretty often. Besides, there is a waffle iron on the small-appliance shelves. If its space there is to be justified, it must be used. So I made waffles. They had crisp, golden brown crusts with light, fluffy centers, just the way I’d hoped. Served with sausage, fruit, and coffee or tea, any grimness that day had in store was waffled away.
The recipe makes 8, and although I could have done math to reduce it, I had something else in mind: Bonus Waffles. I made the full recipe; we had a hearty breakfast, and plenty of batter left over. I reset the temperature to medium and par-baked the rest of the batter. We left those waffles to cool on a baking rack, then individually wrapped them in waxed paper and stowed them in the freezer for a future breakfast. The waffle iron got a good workout–and a good cleaning after–and proudly reclaimed its shelf space. (I could imagine it saying to the ice cream machine, “Don’t worry, buddy, it’ll be your turn soon.”)
I packed those bonus waffles for our breakfasts today. Heated in a toaster oven, they crisp up nicely and are a reminder that, although we won’t see each other ’til nearly midnight, today will not be grim.
I thought of my collaborator as I made breakfast, and of the strange ways people come into our lives. One of my favorite collaborators is a guy I met in an elevator. And my sweetheart is a girl I met on the internet. But that story for another time…