Whenever I think of Tom Ford I think of asparagus. Go to the dictionary. Look up Hunk: Ford, Thomas Carlyle, “Tom”: (bootylicious, doe-eyed, suave, square-jawed fashion guy movie director who loves dogs). Woof. That’s when I reach for the asparagus. I don’t do cucumbers. They don’t give. If you peel them they get mushy and break at the wrong time. I never liked zucchini. Something about the smell. Forget carrots. Unforgiving. That does not leave a lot other than bananas, and who needs fruit when you’re thinking about Tom Ford?
What you need is asparagus. You would not think of asparagus. Most people would not. The thing is this: don’t reach for green asparagus. Won’t work. It is thin and stringy and limp. You need white asparagus. Just look at it. The Dutch have saying for it: Wit goud en koningin der groente: vorstelijke asperges. Doesn’t that sound like a vegetable worthy of Tom Ford? If you live in Arkansas, Nebraska or Kansas, you’re out of luck though. Most supermarkets only sell green asparagus, next to the white Idaho potatoes and the white button mushrooms. I hope the irony is not lost. Nothing so exotic as white asparagus. I am fortunate. I do not live in any of the deprived nether regions of the food plant world where there is no variety. I adore a good culinary romp, and I know my way around Agaricus bisporus and Lentinula edodes. Really, would you serve Tom Ford Agaricus bisporus sauce over white rice? You don’t deserve Tom Ford.
I have pictures of Tom Ford in every room. He watches me from various angles, assesses my daily routines with a disarming smirk of bemused interest. In my bedroom there is an altar, at the foot of the four poster, where he can see how I work with a shoot of Asparagus officinalis and a dab of olive oil in a candlelit room. I throw in all the extras: John Coltrane’s Ballads, incense, a glass of something, usually Hennessy, a puff of this or that, and all the pillows in my house thrown onto the satin sheets that I keep just for Tom Ford date nights.
I warm the vegetable in the oven and let it cool a bit, then tuck a few stalks in a fresh towel and bring it to the bedroom on a platter. You don’t want to overheat, just lick them with enough heat to make your toes want to curl a bit when you find the spot. I offer the platter to Tom and set it beside the bed. I wear something nice. By him. Obviously. I have one nice black leather number, and I wear the shoes, but I am out of all of this by the time Coltrane gets to “All or Nothing at All.” I watch myself in a full-length mirror until I am stripped down. Comfy, relaxed, woozy, ready, I carefully select my instrument. The rest will stay warm and toasty until I need them, if I do.
I drizzle some oil and work the sprout around. Tom likes it when I take my time. That’s why I don’t use anything that runs on batteries. Who’s in a hurry? White asparagus deserves the slow movement treatment. Carlo Petrini would be proud. I twirl and caress. I go in at a snail’s pace, and finally with deliberation to catch the heat still buried deep inside the stalk, feeling it warm me up, matching the heat of the cognac. My toes curl. Tom looks on approvingly.
When I am feeling a bit of madness or the third glass of Hennessy, I use two stalks at once, one in each hand, alternating strokes. You would be surprised by how well this works. I am not too shy to peek over the pillows into the mirror. I want to see what Tom sees. I know what he likes. We like the same thing. I get myself into a frenzy. Tom handles it all unperturbed, but I am beside myself. Those eyes holding me in that gaze, like ice cream bubbling on a griddle. It is all very maddening. I always lose it in the end. Afterwards, I don’t mind throwing the asparagus into a pan with salmon and Hollandaise sauce. Might seem weird to eat it after all that, but it doesn’t bother me. I eat my dinners alone, under the patient and accepting eyes of Tom Ford. ###
Desire, Sex, and Asparagus is taken from the collection Jesus Loves You But Not Today, the first volume in the Canvas Sextet flash fiction series. Read more stories on the website at http://www.thecanvassextet.com.