I am writing this open letter to you today against the advise of my lawyers and my team of mental health care practitioners. It may be ill-advised and the experience may only pen more chapters in this sordid tome of high wayward adventures that I've encountered since meeting you for dinner in Paris just such a short time ago. I risk more time in this unsavory institution, however, I must explore the curious phenomenon that your introduction has unleashed upon my life. I await the day that my dreams are not haunted by a green fairy who's red eyes burn at me from the recesses of darkened closets and beckon to me from the shadows under the bed. Most of all, I must implore you to unlock the grip of this book, this charmed , if not cursed, book you've authored so innocently titled, "The Perfect Scoop." This tool of the devil, masquerading as a sweetly ribboned, creamery-filled volume of "Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas and Sweet Accompaniments" is in reality a bewitched tome, printed and bound by the hands of a sorcerer!
Pardon my break.
Nurse Ratched just delivered my paper Dixie cup of pills and I must finish this before they pull me down into their blurry gray comfort. It is only in sleep that this book slips from my fingers and the spell is broken. My relief from its spell is only suspended, but not broken, while in sweet, sweet slumber. But like a tell-tale heart, it lunges into my consciousness with every waking breath I take.
Our meeting started pleasantly enough. I recall the park was alive with the sounds of happy children playing and calling out to their mothers for another ride around the pastel-colored carousel. Sparrows huddled together in the branches of baby pines and waited for fresh crumbs to spill on the ground from the crinkly paper bag of the neighborhood boulangerie. Your amiable demeanor and pleasant countenance held no trace of the mischievous undercurrent coursing through your veins.
I'm not sure exactly when the shift occurred. Perhaps it was while we enjoyed those delightful glasses of chilled Beaujolais at Osovignonthe while we chatted and watched Paris stroll by, enjoying the fresh Spring evening. Or maybe it was over steak frites , à point, at Le Relais del'Entrecote and our third pour of Beaujolais. Whether its genesis was over boeuf or Beaujolais, the dark curtain began its decent when your fingers slid that scrap of paper to me. It was neatly torn from the white paper place mat and read simply:
After gorgeous plates of cheese and chocolaty frozen pastries, we bid adieu and Ed and I set off on foot with the slip of paper tucked neatly into my pocket.
The shop is not easy to find. It's much like parting the mists of Avalon, you must firmly believe Avalon is there and assert your will before they will lift for you. The shop is tucked into a small street that would easily be missed by the non-believers. But for those who believe (and have asked directions from other shopkeepers), the verdigris Vert d'Absinthe shop appears.
I don't actually recall much after leaving the charming, anise-scented storefront except that Luc-Santiago Rodriguez sent us away with a neat little bottle filled with a gently olive-colored liquid. I have no recollection of returning to the hotel and managing the task of opening the door to the room. The images that do cling to my head are delicate and broken, like the remnants of an abandoned spider web that flits about in a breeze. I do recall speeding down Rue de Rivoli in the cool night air, weaving in and out of traffic at breakneck speeds, singing "Frère Jacques" and wildly waving my beret in the night air. I believe we careened through more than a solitary red light and gave high-speed chase to many horrified pedestrians who hurled shopping bags at us in their attempt to escape us.
Most unsettling in all of this is that we didn't have a car.
The French police were very kind and accommodating as it was an otherwise quiet evening. They woke us and helped us out of the fountain. One even returned my Absinthe spoon that he discovered stuck fast to the side of Ed's cheek in a sticky clump of partially dissolved sugar cubes.
It was a blessing that the customs agents in Athens seized the remaining bottle from our bag!
Once back in the states, I believed my recovery was advanced enough to purchase "The Perfect Scoop." Surely there was no recipe for an intoxicating elixir within the pages that would reignite the flames of my insanity. Right?
I fall now into the welcome sleep my day nurse has so kindly induced. Tomorrow I shall attempt to detail the rest of this story in hopes of exorcising the frozen dairy demons that have taken over my mind and body.
**Editor's note and legal disclaimer - 1) David Lebovitz is NOT a sorcerer or the Devil incarnate, 2) not all Dixie cup-wielding nurses are evil, 3) Vert d'Absinthe is not actually shrouded in fog, 4) French police are probably not really that kind, 6) Greek customs agents are actually very nice fellows, 5) and most of all - our bottle of Absinthe is perched on a shelf of our bar, still waiting for the right opportunity to catch a glimpse of the green fairy.