I stayed out late the other night, because when you get invited to a prosciutto tasting, you go. At least I do. I took my walker with me, because he’s always the perfect date, and we drank prosciutto-flavored cocktails (too sweet), and tasted four different aged prosciuttos* (from 18 months to 46 months), and ate lovely nibbles (foie gras! porchetta!), and finished with prosciutto-flavored panna cotta (delicious). All in all, it was splendid – a beautiful night, a lovely restaurant, and a whole mess of delectable pig. My only disappointment was that the very heavy goody bag** did not include a whole ham, because really? That would have totally made my day.
Anyway, staying out late meant that I didn’t take my usual train home, so instead of just the usual dour commuters rushing home to dinner, it was salted with a hodge-podge of eccentrics. I took a seat next to an older woman with a prodigiously wrinkled face, loud clothes and severe glasses. I decided I liked her when she chided the young woman across from us to “move your bags so someone can sit down”. But then I had this peculiar set of odd exchanges with her, the kind that left me scratching my head, who are you anyway? It started with the New York Times Magazine [I was reading the very interesting Peggy Orenstein piece on breast cancer]. “What magazine is that?” I told her, and showed her the front cover. “Would you like it when I’m done?” “No”, she said, “I had it over the weekend.” But you didn’t recognize it? Later I pulled a lip balm out of my bag, a generic one, filched from my dentist who uses them like calling cards, branded with his name and phone number. “Do you like white lipstick?” she asked me. “Well, no, but it’s not lipstick”, I said, wondering if she’d never seen chapstick before. “It doesn’t have any color.” Then I opened up my iPad, to read the New Yorker. “Is that like a computer?” she asked. I paused to pick my words with care, bemused by her use of “like”. “Yes, it does many of the things a full computer could do.” “Oh,” said she, “I don’t have a computer”.
She got off the train, into the night, leaving me perplexed – there was something completely other worldly about her and her non-sequiturs. Dry, birdlike, curious, engaged but distant. Memorable.
* I should probably point out that it was actually Prosciutto di Parma, the authentic stuff from Italy, and that I didn't get paid to write about it. Also, that 46 month old prosciutto was swoon-worthy. And who knew it ever got to be that old?
** Actually there wasn't any pork in the bag.