He talked in short bursts of pipe-smoked professorial verbiage, and your mind was always working it out a bit after the fact. Mel worked with Hubby for a time, and brought me a smile and a sample from his kitchen every time we met. I could only understand about half of what he said, but he said it so emphatically that I had to agree with him.
Our anniversaries were in November, Mel's and his wife's, and ours. His wife was in California caring for her sick mother one November, yet relishing an excuse to celebrate, Mel crafted a gourmet anniversary dinner for three in her absence.
He delighted our palates first with crème fraiche atop sweet and spicy pumpkin soup, then succulent pork tenderloin stuffed with truffles and herb dressing, plus fresh asparagus from the Farmer's Market delicately seasoned, and he finished strong with my personal favorite profiteroles au chocolat.
He was the gourmand's gourmand, and though appearing a bumbling intellectual, he was comfortable in any upscale eatery or behind the scenes in his own kitchen.
Even his fruitcake (yes, fruitcake!) was a taste extravaganza bursting with nuts he'd toasted himself, exotic Pacific dried fruits, and laced with Amaretto. Mel taught me that God gave us taste buds so we could enjoy His bounty. God meant us to enjoy food.
That is a huge lesson to a woman who's spent most of her life on a diet. Food to me is pleasure followed guilt. I have a love/hate relationship with every morsel that enters my mouth...relishing in the sensations and delights, and loathing the hangover that makes me fret about jeans and zippers.
But not at Mel's table. He reminds me that God is good and God wants us to enjoy all of His creations. I enjoy God's creations...and Mel's creations.
And, I miss Mel, and his fruitcake, and his profiteroles. He died suddenly and unexpectedly a few years ago from an errant blood clot.
And with his death ended the opportunity for more, as happens every time a friend leaves our circle. Hubby and I had meant to get together with Mel and his family that last Christmas, but then I just got busy and rushed, and I didn't get around to picking up the phone. We often "get busy" and wait for "another day" to plan a dinner, or coffee, or a concert with family and friends. Our lives are hectic and we run out of time. (Speaking of, when DID it turn from "Can we meet next weekend?" to "Can we meet next month...or the next month?")
Sure, I schedule out months in advance. Maybe my friends and acquaintances think I'm nuts, always calling to have them over or go do something. But, I don't want to miss out on communion with them because I was "busy." I've been down that road.