Where I grew up, almost all the kitchens had a poster or painting of the Last Supper by the dinner table. One of the more unusual renderings was in black velvet which I would run my fingers along when no one was looking, all those apostles glowing in the dark. My parents didn't have one so I thought this a tremendously exotic touch to any dining room decor. When we were little girls, my friend Angela Dawn and I used to walk around her parents' trailer park after playing a few rounds of croquet with the tiny plastic set her father had put up, talking about what our houses would look like when we got older. We both agreed that we'd have The Last Supper in our kitchen. We both agreed that we would not live in a trailer. And that we could eat jello and jello only for dinner if we liked because in our first grade lingo, it had, like, no calories or fat. Years later, we'd trade tips on how to throw away our dinner food while our parents weren't looking -- alas, our eating disordered tendencies started early! Then we'd have a contest on who could read faster -- Angela was athletic as a colt, eerily smart and stunningly beautiful, but I always won the reading contests. It was nice to have one talent.
Years passed, and I moved away to college. She had a nervous breakdown and had to come home. She married early, and my then-beloved and I visited her and her husband in their trailer, the trailer she swore she would never have. I looked around at the hideous orange shag carpet that she was swearing she'd replace and saw what she had done to make things nice. I smiled -- there was The Last Supper! I'd forgotten about our promise. Her husband chewed his tobacco and spit it into a cup while watching wrestling on television. His name was Joseph, and although he seemed like a Joe or Joey, nobody called him anything but the most chaste spouse of Mary's name. I felt as if I'd slipped into a bizarre funhouse mirror of our childhood dream. For dinner, she served baked chicken and instant mashed potatoes, but only played with her food as she'd done for as long as I'd known her. Then she produced dessert -- grape jello. It's all I eat, she told me. It keeps the weight down. It was the middle of summer, but she presented me the most perfect Halloween gift I had received up until then -- a hand-poured luminous jack-o-lantern candle that glowed from the inside. I knew you'd love it, she said. And I did. We lit it up and watched the shadows dance all over the small space, all over the faces of the men who were sharing one last meal with Jesus who would save them, the seeds of betrayal already in the picture.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Disease is one of our languages." Susanna Kaysen
Drinking music suggestion: Under the Covers Dwight Yoakum
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Good Friday!
Two more days until The Sopranos airs!