eggplant can be a little bomb


Don’t be like the man who lost his camel, still looking for the rope, I tell P while we are headed to monthly bunco. Both of us are hermits by nature, but we’ve also learned to force ourselves into social settings. To confront our fears, we go to bunco, play dice games and catch up on the news. We know: there is a gentle (nerdy) word for people like us. We tend to want to stay home, read good books and if we go out–it’s for foreign movies at the library.

But what does a camel and a rope have to do with that? It’s sweet, to be in a car driven by a friend you’ve known since knee-high socks and braces. We don’t have to make congruent dialogue. Somewhere on the internet I read a stranger’s advice: to accept means to embrace something as if it were your choice.

I grin to myself, loving her reply to my camel statement. We only see each other on bunco night and now it is her turn to drive. She takes the Sixth Avenue Bypass as if driving on black ice. Sixth Avenue quickly pours into five lanes and even though it’s a straight shot for five miles until her next turn, she immediately—but slowly, as the other cars surge by—works her way from the fifth lane to the first. Just like I would do (but maybe a bit faster.) Just like our adult children don’t. Why not stay in the fast lane, they always ask us. Why not get in your lane as soon as you can, we reply.

Proper lane established, P turns the music up. And now, I smile out loud in the dark. No doubt, and of course! She’s somehow found an old  Chicago CD. And I know, before we reach the bunco house, she’ll switch to A Horse With No Name, by America—the music she listened to when we were college roommates and she owned the only turntable on our dorm floor. There was never a chance I’d get to listen to my Ravi Shankar album, East Meets West, on her stereo.

Later, after we leave bunco, we’ll talk nonstop about politics and history, music theory, psychology and mixed media. She’ll pull into my driveway, headlights still on, and we’ll talk for thirty minutes more. But for now, we prepare for our bunco evening and what it takes for hermits to acclimate with the other women whose company we both fear and yet find warm and embracing: who’s had surgery, who is on which diet; which one of us has lost a job. We’ll roll the dice, talk about who likes sweet snacks, who prefers salt. The snatches of disconnected conversation all the while making it surreal:

eggplant can be . . . he’s been catching . . . Sunday games . . . the wrong fish! . . .  a little bomb . . . I wanted to trade . . . homemade cake . . .rivers with him .  . . I just wrote her ‘hope’ . . .





About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website:

18 responses to “eggplant can be a little bomb

  1. Yes, it can. Happy New Year.

    • redmitten

      P has a mind like a librarian slash pharmacist. I shared your recipe and right away her mind lept at it. I could hear her purr. Eggplant is like potato, she said, you have to poke them or they explode. But with the numerous conversations going on all at once, by the end of the evening most understood eggplant could blow up a microwave. 🙂 happy new year and thank you for a tempting recipe.

  2. shucks. i love swingin’ by here. every time. thank you! you’re so……real and in the spaces too. x

  3. So, I’m stuck on the driving part. Seems like such a wonderful metaphor for life. Fast lane versus picking your lane and sticking to it. Speaking of listening to music from college days and other things. Never know when the eggplant might blow.

    • redmitten

      laurie, i used to want to get to where i was going, faster/sooner. now, i am all about the ride. i should also have written about the penny taped to the turntable arm to keep the album from skipping, but then i would have directed the story somewhere else, and this piece was more just about the ride without any particular place to go.

  4. Oh, those ladies must love it when you hermits show up for Bunco. Love the conversation snippets. Egg plant can be… what?!

    • redmitten

      jayne, something i keep learning about hermits- they are friendly and can have social skills. but they don’t recharge their batteries at bunco. 🙂 but bunco conversation is hilarious because none of us get it right…

  5. Rose Hunter

    Had to google “bunco.” OK you say what it is, but to make sure. 🙂
    “Don’t be like the man who lost his camel, still looking for the rope” – is wonderful. Do you know how often I do this? Often. I am the woman who does that, often. Then remembers, sometimes. …But I guess if the camel is really gone, and if the rope could be used for something else…. Anyway. Heh.

  6. Katy

    I keep coming back to this one. I’m a hermit by nature as well…and I started to think that maybe I was unhealthy. My next door neighbor is my lifeline to the outside world – I build her cabinets and she tells me all the neighborhood news. And then I always feel like there’s no more need to socialize.
    re: recharging batteries. Introverts don’t recharge at parties. That’s the energy-sucking part. We recharge when everyone else is asleep so we can think.

    • Rose Hunter

      Too funny, I had just finished writing an email to my friend explaining why I cannot do two social things two days running, and the way I explained it was “I am a hermit” – and then explained that if I do one purely social thing, that does it for me for a few days (at least); I cannot possibly do that two days running. I need to recharge, by myself. Then I read your comment, next email I opened (am subscribed to comments). Heh! 🙂

      • redmitten

        rose- yes! a wild burro needs her timberline after a social event. and two days running? everything falls apart. yesterday 3 people showed up in my life …on a day i always spend solo. and while it was super to see each of them- by the end of the day a full retreat was called for. so, who knew?

    • redmitten

      katy- you, too! it’s such a contrary thing. i love the hermit life, and yet i know after a certain point it’s not healthy. and funny thing is, i am always being told i have great social skills. so sure, if i must use them i do. but social settings drain my batteries. you’ve hit on a good combination- building cabinets for your neighbor with the news.

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