Salon columnist Cary Tennis had a lovely column this past week (sorry, subscriptions only). He was riffing on the implications of a letter from a Salon reader who was disquieted by ex-boyfriends who've taken plans the couple had developed together and subsequently implemented them with their new sweeties. She complained about the appropriation of everything from romantic date ideas to a complete wedding theme.
"Do men build dating structures, then simply insert 'woman'?" she asked.
Tennis points out, in his gentle way, that you can't help but absorb ideas during a relationship, and you can't be expected to erase the ideas when the romance ends.
"It's one thing if he cooks an omelet on your stove with your eggs in your pan and then carries the omelet out of your house into his new girlfriend's house and feeds it to her. But every time he cooks an omelet for her, in his pan, or her pan, does he have to credit you for it?" he teases.
This got me thinking of all the great ideas and attitudes I've gotten from past relationships. I don't mean old friends I still hang out with; I mean people who once meant quite a bit to me, but who I'll never see again!
Every time I chop the bamboo shoots and turn on the gas under the wok, I hear Blair, my pony-tailed college sweetie, reminding me "hot wok, cold oil." He's an orthodox rabbi now.
When I see my gray hair in the mirror I think of David, the New York civil rights attorney who showed me the city when I was at Columbia for grad school. One night at the City Limits one of my friends teased him about going gray. David said "I have a deal with God; he can turn my hair any color he wants as long as he lets me keep half of it." David died a few years ago; there's an ACLU scholarship in New York in his memory.
I can't imaging Blair or David being annoyed at me for perpetuating their cooking techniques or their clever lines. When the Salon reader's annoyance about the failed romances is long gone, she should feel flattered that her ex-boyfriends have such positive memories of her that they have kept those reminders in their lives.
Oh, BTW, Steve, wherever you are, I still remember how to make fluffy omelettes!