cadavers over dinner

 {phlegm: a love story chronicles Y's finer moments as a true romantic scientist. See the rest of the love story here.}

The girl and the boy sit close to each other in a corner booth. It's their anniversary dinner, and they've chosen a popular new restaurant that specializes in meat and bourbon. The boy has a beer, the girl has a champagne cocktail. They toast to three years of marriage and two months in their new house. 

The waitress sets down a platter of exotic meats. She points to each one. "Pickled heart macella, summer truffle sausage, turkey braunschweiger, wild boar head cheese." Translation: beef heart, sausage, turkey liver pate, and boiled boar head.

The girl gingerly takes a bite of sausage, the one thing that appears safe. The boy takes a bite of pickled heart and nods approvingly. "This is delicious." The girl tentatively pokes at it with her fork, working up the courage to take a bite. 

The boy continues. "This is actually really tender. I would expect heart muscle to be tougher than this, since cutting through a cadaver heart is so difficult. Now the psoas muscle --on an animal, that's where you get a filet, and the human muscle is similar -- you can slice right through that muscle."

The girl vomits.

Just kidding. The girl is used to this. She smiles, nods, and does not eat the pickled heart macella. 

Interview trail: a brief break at home

After his fifth trip -- at five days it was the longest so far -- the boy is finally home, in his own shower, his own bed. The next flight is in just two days, and a good night's sleep in his own bed is a must. He falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow, his stomach full from homemade chicken pot pie (and cramped from laughing at the girl's botched haircut). 

The girl falls asleep soon after, but is woken in the middle of the night by the boy's tossing and turning. She opens an eye wearily as the boy rolls over, groans, and whispers in her ear. 

"Are we in a hotel?"


The girl arrives at work in her frumpiest outfit, rushed and sweaty after yoga class, no makeup. Who’s going to see her anyway, she thinks.

Later, exhausted and self-conscious, she buys  a cup of tea at the cafe. She stands in line behind a handsome doctor. He glances behind him and says, “...and I’ll pay for whatever she’s having.”

The girl thinks she must look (and smell) even worse than she thought; the doctor must have felt sorry for her. "Thanks," she says, embarrassed. She walks off quickly, head down and back slumped, undoing whatever benefits the yoga class had on her posture.

As she stirs skim milk into her hot tea, she is struck with a thought: Maybe, just maybe, he wanted to buy me a drink.

And then, she catches a glimpse of her reflection in a window and gets angry.

Who does this asshole think he is? Just because he has a white coat and a chiseled jaw, he thinks he can make some frumpy girl's day? No way. I will not allow myself to be flattered by this. I don't need some handsome doctor to make me feel special.

A few hours later, she tells the boy, her own handsome [almost] doctor, the story.

He listens then nods, understanding.

"You do kind of look like crap."

{because it's more fun to tell your "love story" in the third person}


The girl spends her day off at a local boutique inhaling perfume, coffee beans, perfume, coffee beans. She just exhausted her latest bottle of the perfume she grew up with and it's time for a change. But her new scent has to be perfect; when she leaves on weekend getaways the boy breathes in her signature scent from her empty pillow.

After an hour of back and forth and he'll love it, he'll love it not, she finally lets the cashier wrap up a scent. A sweet, almost fruity scent; chosen as much for its warm vanilla bean and rice flower aroma as for its pretty bottle. 

The most luxurious of fragrant escapes. 

At home, she spritzes her neck and waits for the boy. When he walks in the door, he inhales, pausing for a moment, a faint smile appearing as a memory plays out in his mind. 

The girl is satisfied, she's chosen a scent that calls to his mind a comfortable childhood memory. 

The boy finally exhales.

"You smell like diabetic ketoacidosis."

{because it's more fun to tell your "love story" in the third person}