it’s 7:30 at the House of Bromance by Lincoln and Washington in University Heights. Childhood friends from Massachusetts Ian and Patrick moved into the second-story house about six months ago, stoked on the large windows and colonial architecture. Five pies steam on the table now, and maybe eight of us mill around sipping summer brews. Ian, a pastry chef at the Linkery in North Park, prepared a Canadian pork pie, an asparagus quiche, a blueberry pie, a Marlborough pie, and a strawberry-and-cherry dessert quiche. Katie and I add a banana cream pie to the spread.
Local poet Adam, who hasn’t had a whole lot to drink in one sitting in over a decade, explains his newfound interest in absinthe. Everyone knows that booze is the quickest and most reliable way to invoke the muse. Adam found compromise between temperance and efficiency in a $60 bottle of Lucid, which he swirls in the traditional absinthe glass with sugar and water. He’s heard that the hallucination thing is a myth but hasn’t taken enough to test the theory, yet.
Mickey arrives with a vegan pot pie and two chocolate tarts with homemade strawberry sauce. Sammu shows up 20 minutes later. “How are you, baldy?” he asks Jason in Spanish. “Bien, flaco,” Jason says. We have 9 pies among 14 people. We eat too much and talk about what’s new. Ian’s been racing at the velodrome, Andrea’s hand has recovered from a trip through a dough roller, and Sammu has a line as an extra in a movie.
My makeshift meringue pools up like glue on the corners of the banana cream pie, so we take it out back and blow it up with a generous splash of absinthe. Everyone howls and sings as the confection flambés in the moonlight. The hooch adds an invigorating fennel and anise edge to the otherwise traditional pastry.
Sammu asks what’s in it, mijo? I tell him, “Milk, flour, eggs, sugar. Bananas.” “Tenderness,” says Katie. “Cares, affection. Blood, sweat, and tears,” Ian adds, and then, “Hey, you’re eating an entire lobe of that heart,” referring to the pot pie, which is in a heart-shaped dish. We end up discussing head cheese — how I don’t think I could stomach it, how a good head cheese contains little chunks of head meat which I shouldn’t find intimidating, how they serve it with whole pig snout in Little Italy.
Sammu polishes off his fourth piece of pie and tells us about the movie he is in. “I don’t know the name of the movie. They don’t tell us anything about it,” he says in his deep storyteller’s voice and Uruguayan accent. “I know I’m working with Sarah something, who is supposed to be very famous.”
We all congregate around the sofas for a photo and Sammu, who is taking the picture, asks Ian, “¿Porque la cara del culo?” (Why the assface?) Everyone laughs and he snaps the photo.
In the kitchen, Adam pours me a glass of absinthe and relates his recent service to the community and justice with three days of jury duty — the magic of a Miami Vice defense attorney, frozen yogurt lunch breaks, flawed evidence. The topic shifts to triathlons, agro jock surfers, and the consensual fear of deep water. ”It’s not the real shit I’m worried about,” Ian says. ”It’s the crypto-zoological holdover sea monster that shouldn’t be there, in 20 feet of water.”
Eventually, the people dwindle and only a few sweet slices remain. Write 3.14 on a piece of paper. Hold it up to a mirror. Read. ■
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