Can she write about broccoli, a casting call and a racecar all in one post? Of course she can! She’s the gearhead’s wife; part superhero, part peon to mediocrity. She dares try new things and is swiftly slammed back into “her place” – ha ha – “her palace” [wife edits: what difference a quick slip of fingers on the key board can make]. The kitchen is my palace. There I’m comfortable in my role as queen – I should remember not to venture too far afield. But what’s the common thread between broccoli, a casting call and a car race? Fear.
The gearhead enticed me to join him on race weekends. He described them as bucolic, almost picnic-like, outings in the countryside. Kid number two was wriggling with ecstasy, so caught up with the image of camping with the racecar. I was not easily fooled. I agreed to come up on the Sunday and watch the race after he’d had a few practice runs. I refused to camp in a cement parking lot. I won’t inhale gasoline fumes when I sleep. Kid number two was sorely disappointed.
The nausea was a surprise. The track is legendary as one of the more challenging. It has a sweeping downhill turn, fast straight a ways, and switchback hairpins. Driving legends like Gilles Villeneuve, Stirling Moss and Bruce McLaren have carved their way through the circuit. Racers like Jackie Stewart and Mario
Andretti – names that even I recognize – have raced there: Mosport. And now, the Gearhead. I watched as he was strapped into the car, his neck secured in a protective device, the harness, like a child’s seat, clipped together between his legs. As the car roared to life I thought I was going to throw up. At least it was a different sensation to the embarrassment I had felt upon arrival when the gearhead was strutting around his car trailer in what I thought was his long underwear. Turns out it was his “under” “wear” – the required fireproof clothing worn beneath a race suit. Here’s a snazzy clip that includes him at the start of the race [wife edits: fully dressed] (he appears at the 22 second mark). I was really quite frightened when he was out on the track with the 23 other hooligans all vying for the checkered flag. I wondered if his life insurance covered such outrageousness.
Someone recently reiterated this cliché to me: you have to scare yourself at least once a day. If this includes the gasp at the empty wine rack or tripping over the dog before my morning tea then I guess it fits. But I really scared myself by attending an audition for a television show. Don’t get excited. I didn’t get it. With humiliating relief I didn’t make it to the third round. That’s the one where you actually get to handle some food. For my first and only audition I stood in front of a camera, said my name, occupation, age, and felt the cold sweat prickling under my arms while I registered the pity in the producer’s eyes. I longed for my palace.
Broccoli fear is often reserved for the very young; not so when I harvested our most glorious looking but eerily early broccoli from our garden. Usually it’s harvested later in July, when I compete for them with the beautiful white cabbage moths that dance around the giant plants like confetti at a wedding. The smell as I approached the first plant was unmistakable – something was rotting. When I cut into the stem, I understood. The entire plant was rotting from the inside out. The middle looked (and smelled) like an alien slime. Straight to the compost heap with me fighting the urge to throw up (again). So it was with a certain amount of fear that I approached the next plant (no smell this time). And when I cut into it? Perfect. No slime. I prefer to blanche our home grown broccoli – the cabbage moth caterpillars are so wonderfully camouflaged, only a quick dip in boiling water will flush them out, petrified. None this time though – it’s too early I guess. Plunge the blanched broccoli in ice water and then toss it in a strongly flavoured vinaigrette composed of lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Fear be damned. Pass me my crown. I’m ready to wear it again.