I lie, and I say that cooking is apprehended intuitively, that it is an activity that is completely without thought. I say that it is natural and does not carry the onus of having to be learned.

Show me one human being who is not a vain sociopath seeking the meekest and most ineffectual iota of aggrandizement at any and every shamefully inappropriate opportunity, and I will show you the end of my further vainly constructed tautology regarding human nature and the expectations one can hold for the moral performance of the bipeds who share flesh characteristic of swine.

If there is mercy, however, it will come as no surprise that that same human being will imagine the salvation of ameliorative forgiveness- excuse- glowing like the lord in his rose window high in the rafters of his seat in your parish. Prows cutting deep into the narrow and profound channel of the river we imagine our moments flowing together as part of one unifying and continuously cleansing stream of a whole, our rationale is a great ship called progress and it sails with a license to, at last, potentially relent in our constant offenses. That is what can be read on the flag it flies.

I must show mercy and stress that among human beings there are certain populations of monsters, and human beings are not these.

The ship sails with with other cargo on its manifest than excuses like progress and development, such as honesty, a longing for mutual understanding- and it is no surprise that it is armed with these that I face the ship’s onboard interlocutor first.

It is true that I want to express my joy of a moment of cooking and acting unthinkingly and unreflectingly– but the the interlocutor finds the vanity of my timing wants for further explanation.

After three decades and the opportunity to see many peers achieve outward models of success, he and I- the friend with whom I was speaking- are both working with some difficulty at sharing verbally the ardor of taking steps to become outwardly those things we are so at home being inwardly.

At least we will always be innocent in our easy victimhood to our weaknesses. As people, I mean. Perhaps, in the end, too forgiving of ourselves, of course. We happen to snag hang-nailed on nearly unrelated technicalities in the wisdom of life’s experience that reassure us that, though we are not where we would like to be, this is not the same as not being capable of being where we’d like to be or being there sometime soon. Perhaps it is also too easy to speak of oneself in a palliative plural.

I lied and said that cooking brought me joy because it simply flowed from the ingredients that were available and the mood and the swing of doors and flip of hair in orphaned breezes in otherwise stiflingly hot rooms, but in that conversation I could not but spend all my attention on the task of seeing to it that the egg noodles did not burn in the frying pan, of taking care that I wasted no precious slices of meat, should they have been pushed carelessly while cooking from the other frying pan where I had seared rings of yellow onion with chicken breasts in fish sauce, pepper, oil, and Sriracha.

Cooking is not apprehended intuitively, to set the record straight, and one should not change the subject and say that it is. One should simply admit that, perhaps, one should be making the same great strides toward change in one’s own life as those being discussed as being undertaken in one’s friend’s life, however terribly painful that revelation may prove.