Here’s another secret about me: patience is not my virtue.
The other night, to avoid a 25-minute delay on the beltline (DARN YOU, GPS!), I took the nearest exit and proceeded to ride around Raleigh in circles, for an hour, because every secondary road I drove down was jammed by yet another person who lost all sense of, well, common sense when a single raindrop hit the windshield. My 30-minute commute turned into an hour-and-a-half of loud cursing, steering wheel bashing and the occasional tear.
(In my defense, it had kinda been a tough day at work.) (And seriously, you should be allowed to drink in a traffic jam. I’m just sayin’.)
Waiting in line, being put on hold, having an important conversation interrupted, being stopped by my boss for a chat when I’m on my way to the bathroom—none of these events sit very well with me.
My stomach gets tight and churns and then my neck and shoulder muscles seize up and, quite honestly, you don’t want to be the next person to get in my way.
So you might think I was one of those kids who spent the entire month of December hunting under beds and in closets for Christmas presents; that I read the last page of a book first; that the amazing roasted garlic dip is gone before the guests arrive.
Despite my get-it-now mentality, I have an unnatural need for delayed gratification. I think it comes from reading too many books where the pay-off is always a perfectly set scene, with the heroine looking gorgeous, a fire in the fireplace, a full moon glowing outside.
That’s why, 17 days ago, after eagerly awaiting for months the publication of a new cookbook entitled My Calabria, I marched down to Borders with my 40% coupon in hand and found it, all shiny and colorful, in the stacks. I bought it the day it came out. I needed to have it as soon as possible. If I could not make a recipe from that book that night, I would mope for days.
I collect cookbooks about Calabrian cuisine because my family is from that region in Italy and it’s not a common area of focus for Italian cookbooks. I was particularly interested in this book because the author, Rosetta Constantino, who has a fantastic and delicious blog called “Calabria from Scratch,” took the time earlier this year to help me out, via email, when I was searching for an oddball recipe quite unique to my father’s town. We exchanged several emails in which she sent me a similar recipe, but in Italian. She told me if I couldn’t read Italian she would translate it for me! So yes, I needed to own Rosetta’s book the moment it hit stores.
The book is atop my ottoman right now, within an arm’s length, tempting me. It’s been 17 days and I haven’t opened the cover or cracked the spine. No new dish has been prepared, no author introduction digested. Why? Well, I’m waiting for the right time.
I’m so excited about what’s inside that I need the first read-through to be an event. It can’t be rushed through on a worknight amidst working out, reading emails, making dinner and packing lunch for the next day! I don’t want to squeeze it unceremoniously into a lunchtime read when I take a break with my sandwich. I want to be in comfortable clothes, cozy on my couch, with a nice glass of wine, on a chilly weekend night, with pad and paper by my , ready to make elaborate lists of ingredients I need to buy so I can cook recipes in the book the very next day.
Well, that moment hasn’t happened yet. And let’s be honest, what are the chances I’m going to make those recipes the day after? It will be a Sunday, I will want to read The New York Times, and by the time I do it will be late in the day and practically a work night…
It’s not just with cookbooks that I do this; it’s with novels I want to read, art books I’ve splurged on, a new blend of coffee for my Tassimo, the exotic dried fruits I bought at Kroger (cantaloupe and kiwi!!), the PBS special where David Suchet, the actor who plays Poirot on the BBC, takes viewers on a ride on the real Orient Express.
You say I’m crazy, I say I have my standards.
I think this delayed gratification is my soul’s way of making up to me for the blatant impatience I feel so often in my everyday activities. There are so many things I want to get out of the way immediately, that when rushing through those times, it’s nice to think to myself, “Ooh! Maybe I’ll get home a little early today and I can finally sit down with that new cookbook and spend the entire night planning menus and dinner parties!”
And when I inevitably don’t get home early enough to make a night of it, I can soothe myself with the anticipation that maybe tomorrow is the big day!
As you can see, I do believe patience is a virtue, and it’s own reward. Unless you’re some idiot who can’t drive and is making me sit on I-440 for an extra half hour on the way home from work. You, I have no patience for.
I just want to get home and read my book.