Cooking by Scent - A Short Story

I thought learning to cook would be easy.

Put a pot on a stove and heat it up. But when I kept burning things, and got tired of eating charcoal and half cooked rice, still crunchy and other undercooked foods, I decided to hire Steven, a personal chef. Now I know your thinking, trite love story, but, he’s gay. And I’m not a lesbian. At least I don’t think I am. No, I know I’m not, because I’m married to Pete. A very macho guy. He smokes and drinks beer and rides a Harley. He’s also very sensitive. He likes poetry. He’s a renaissance biker. He also makes millions on his investments. He owns three bike shops in New Jersey. And I’m his sweetie.

But anyway, I hired Steven. He’s coming over today. And I’m going to hover around and see if I can learn anything.

“Hey, Gwen, so nice to see you. You look fabulous. Got to have good food and don’t want take out anymore? I’ll tell you right now, I’m easy going. I don’t need special ingredients, I’ll whip something up with what you have.”

“Hey Steven, I have some hamburger meat, a bunch of grapes and some beer. Oh and some Bisquick. The new heart healthy kind.” I said sheepishly. I was wearing a summerdress and sandals. And I was feeling self conscious that I didn’t have much in the refrigerator.

“Oh, okay, we’ll make impossible pie. Do you have onions and cheese? Here we go. I’ll get you a shopping list of things to get at the store next time. Don’t worry sweetie. Lets just put these grapes in the freezer.”

“So tell me more about yourself Steven.”

“Oh you know, I live with my sweetie, Johnny... I have three cats and a Shih Tzu, but you’d think she was a guinea pig. But I just adore those sandals. Were they at Bloomingdales? Say, this is a lovely house. I just love what you did with the faux finishing. Very nice. So do you have any children?”

“We adopted an Asian girl from Taiwan. Pete is hoping we’ll be able to conceive now. He loves kids. I’m an artist and I have a studio upstairs. Jessie is learning to paint from me.”

“Oh, how nice. So how old is Jessie?”

“She’s twelve now. She’s half American. She has curly brown hair. She isn’t welcome in the Asian community that much because of it. She’s such a lovely girl. I’m afraid I’m nearing thirty-five soon and I’ve missed my chance of natural conception. I had an abortion when I was twenty-two. I should have kept him, but Jake wasn’t with me anymore. I found out I was pregnant after we broke up because he cheated on me. I guess I wanted to get even. It was such a horrible experience.”

“Oh, Honey, that’s terrible. But at least you’re happily married now. Say, this is a really nice kitchen… You know, once I got beat up for being gay. I’m much more careful about who I spend time with. Women are so much more understanding.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Say, that impossible pie smells delicious. I’m sure Pete will love it. How did you learn to cook?”

“Oh, my parents were very well to do, and my mom didn’t really cook. She just sort of spent money on clothes. She loved jewelry… Anyway, we ate out a lot at fancy restaurants and I learned to cook mostly by experimenting with flavors. I knew what to use by smell. I have very good scent.”

“That’s really interesting. I can make a grilled cheese sandwich on my infrared grill. That’s about it.”

She didn’t mention that he had a gallant aquiline nose. He was devilishly handsome, with chiseled features. And striking black hair. I bet girls would have been feeling very lucky if he was straight. But he had an air about him, a flamboyant streak even in his chef outfit. He wore a pink bandana around his neck. Funny, other than that you would think he was any other chef.

“So what’s for dinner, Gwen.” Pete said as he strolled in. “Oh, hello. Gwen, I thought you cooked that. It smells good. Hi, I’m Pete.”

“Hi Pete, I’m Steve, Steve Williams.”

“Nice to meet you Steve. Say, what’s the special occasion? Did you give up on learning to cook Dear?”

“Well, sort of, although I might pay Steve to give me lessons.”

“Say, that’s a swell idea. Nothing like a home cooked meal.”

Steve said. “Do you like impossible pie? It’s really good.”

“I’ve never had it before.”

“Well, I’ll be going now. Here’s a list of foods to get.” Steve walked over to his briefcase and pulled out a list printed on a marbled looking paper. Even his stationary was premium. ” I hope you enjoy.”

They said their pleasantries, and as Steve left, Pete said, “It would be great if we had home cooked meals more often.”

“He made it sound so creative. I think I’m going to try to learn. He said he learned cooking by scent.”

Pete looked amused. “Really, that sort of how I learned to fix motorcycles, by getting in there and getting dirty.”

“I really do hope I can learn… I would like to be able to be like my mom. She did all the cooking. That’s why I never really learned.”

“Well I’m starved. Let’s eat.”