You can reach me at:
The following letter reminded me of the Calvin & Hobbes cartoon above.
Whether or not Tanis is telling the unvarnished truth is beside the point.
I was thoroughly entertained by her story! I hope you enjoy it, too.
This story is about my best friend, Rebecca (I usually call her Bex). We call it the Spaghetti Mess, and we still laugh about it from time to time. It’s the sort of thing that happens to a person, and years later they find themselves telling new friends about it. Every telling gets a little more polished, until the delivery is perfect and you can have a roomful of people in stitches, hanging on every word. Nobody can tell this story like Bex, but I’ll give it my best shot.
It happened around 10 years ago, after Bex had been seeing this Italian guy, Claudio, for a while. When they met, Claudio was new to the area, and new to English, so he had this sexy accent that got Becca’s attention right away. Once he had her attention, she fell hard: He was tall, rugged, earnestly romantic. He’d hang around outside her window with a guitar and sing her songs and read her poetry. He always showed up with flowers whenever he thought he’d have a chance of running into her.
Usually the flowers were stolen from someone’s garden. I clearly remember him being chased, by an irate old lady whose carefully tended flowerbed he had just raided, into the coffee shop where Bex and I worked. He handed the flowers to a flabbergasted Bex, and turned to the old woman.
Shrugging sheepishly and spreading his hands, he declared, “You see now? How can I be blamed when I am entranced by such beauty?”
All the women in the cafe heaved a collective sigh, the old lady included. With his accent, his over-the-top courtship, his charming enthusiasm and passion for life, he was hard not to like. If my memory’s not mistaken, he chatted the old woman into sitting down, and he treated her to coffee while he waited for Becca’s shift to end. On their first date, a few days later, they went together to the old woman’s house and helped her plant more flowers to replace the ones he’d stolen for Bex.
An incorrigible yet charming bloke like that, it was inevitable, really. Bex fell for him, and like I said, she fell hard. Their whirlwind romance was the gossip of choice in our little circle of friends. It quickly became amorous and steamy between them. Bex would blush and giggle and tell the girls all about it when we got together for lady’s night. If Claudio knew we all secretly wished to be Bex, he never showed any signs of it. He just carried on being his incredibly captivating self to everyone he met.
One night, Bex, laughing so hard she could hardly breathe, told us they’d finally gone all the way.
We couldn’t figure out what was so funny. In between breaths, she managed to explain.
“Claudio,” she gasped, “is hung,” like an expansive hand gesture, apparently!
More laughter, then: “He … he was … displaying it! He had that proud ‘Look what I’ve got’ look on his face, like he does, and the moment I saw it, I just burst out, ‘My goodness, you Italians sure love your noodles!'”
It was a good night, and when Bex told us she was now a connoisseur of Italian pasta, we ribbed her mercilessly about her low-carb diet going all to hell. She took it with good grace. None of us were getting the sort of attention she was.
An interlude of months, and Claudio’s romantic river showed no sign of drying up. He wrote Rebecca letters. Sent her little gifts. With pencil, charcoal, pen and ink, he attempted to draw her face from memory, over and over again, and the results, though laughable, were heart-warming in their intent. And they did get better over time. Claudio surprised her with tickets to concerts, dance performances, art shows, wine tastings, poetry readings. He lavished her with attention, and Bex reveled in it.
All the while, their love life was growing increasingly interesting. One fantasy led to another led to another, and before we knew it, they were having threesomes with other women, then other men. They were trying bondage, and spanking, and reading the Kama Sutra. They were dripping hot wax on each other and exploring anal pleasures and even some exhibitionism.
One day Claudio revealed his ultimate fantasy: a bathtub, full of spaghetti, red sauce and all, some bottles of wine, and a ridiculous food fight turned sexual romp. The thought of rubbing all that hot pasta sauce and warm slippery spaghetti all over his body and hers, Bex revealed, was enough to make him shiver with anticipation when he talked about it. At first she thought it was crazy, but then she started thinking about all the things he had done for her, would do for her, without hesitation. She began to think it might be kind of fun. And then she began to think, how can I make this even crazier?
Bathtub? Too small. Think hot tub. Admittedly not an olympic size pool, it still required an incredible amount of pasta, collected in secret over a long time and supplied to a number of caterers throughout town. They, in turn, cooked it up and delivered it, no questions asked, for an enormous fee, straight to the hot tub, on a sultry summer night sometime around the 2nd anniversary of their first date.
Red sauce and all.
Mixed with a generous amount of hot water, the hot tub kept things simmering, so long as the jets remained off to prevent massive clogs of spaghetti in the pipes. Bex laid down a trail of rose petals from the front door to the verandah, then settled into the Italian’s fantasy spaghetti pot to wait. She’d timed it well. He arrived home from work only a few minutes later.
Now, despite having mentioned his fantasy a few times before, months and months ago, he wasn’t actually expecting to be greeted at the back door with a handful of warm, wet pasta flung against his chest. Claudio stood there, stunned, looking down at the red splatter on his shirt for a long time. Eventually, she lobbed another pasta bomb his way, just to get him moving. Ducking to the side, Claudio took cover behind the patio table, where he discovered to his delight a large platter of meatballs, neatly stacked like cannonballs.
The food fight began. Hurling great gobs of splattery, red-sauced spaghetti, Rebecca would swipe at incoming meatballs with a large wooden spoon. Sometimes she’d connect and there would be an explosion of greasy beef. Claudio, meanwhile, deflected pasta projectiles with the lid from the meatball platter, and chucked his beef with gusto.
Unknown to either Bex or Claudio, one of the caterers, earlier that day, had lost a diamond wedding ring while making meatballs. The wedding ring had ended up in the middle of the last meatball on the platter. Pitched sidearm by Claudio, it arced through the air towards Bex’s face with a great deal of unintended extra force. A savage overhand chop with the wooden spoon smashed it to smithereens. But before Bex could crow in victory, one of those smithereens, startlingly bright in the porchlight, flashed like a shooting star straight into her left eye.
Claudio, strapping man that he is, wasted no time in scooping Bex out of the spaghetti and sprinting to the hospital. Where they lived, it was quicker to cut through a few neighbors’ yards and across the park to get to the hospital, than to go back through the house, get in the car, and drive around via the convoluted streets. They arrived at the hospital without even realizing a very valuable diamond ring was responsible for Becca’s sudden pain and blindness.
The poor folks in emergency must have thought it was the zombie apocalypse! Claudio, smeared head to toe with meaty red gore, stumbled into the hospital carrying a screaming woman in a bikini who looked like she’d been flayed alive. His frantic yelling for assistance, mutilated by his heavy accent, didn’t do much except confuse matters. By the time anyone figured out what was really going on, pandemonium had erupted on all sides.
Lucky for Bex, the diamond ring had only scraped her cornea. Once sanity again reigned over the hospital ward, the pasta’d pair were dealt with perfunctorily by the frowning doctor, and with many a punny one liner by nurses and patients alike.
“You’re supposed to toss the salad, not the spaghetti!”
“Those two are a recipe for disaster!”
And in a bad Italian accent:
“How did-a she a-hurt-a her eye-ah? She-a didn’t say-a… she was-a pasta out!”
Once the beef was swabbed out of her eye, eyedrops and an eyepatch applied, she was feeling decidedly embarrassed about the whole thing. Claudio walked her home in uncharacteristic silence. They showered and went straight to bed.
Claudio found the diamond ring while they were cleaning up the next day. It was laying on the porch in a puddle of pasta sauce. Claudio’s silence had persisted until then, but when he found the ring his face split in a sudden grin. He looked Bex in her one good eye and he smirked.
“You know,” he said, “next time let’s not put so many carats in the sauce…”
The ring must have been 2 or 3 carats, at least. They were fond of saying it probably cost more than their house! Claudio was already on one knee when he found it, as if about to propose, but Bex snatched the ring from his hand and began calling the caterers.
Their story has a happy ending. The owner of the ring was ecstatic to have it returned to her, and her husband, a wealthy lawyer, forked over a cool $10,000 reward. Claudio and Bex put the money towards their wedding, and they’re still together today.
They did not serve spaghetti at the reception.
*Calvin and Hobbes comic by Bill Watterson*