No. I am not revising this book. I am not tinkering at the margins. I am rewriting it mostly from scratch, and the farther along I get, the more mostly the rewriting gets, and the closer to uttermost scratch. I am now about 2/3 of the way through Chapter 9, of 13; and 113,000 words in, of about 175,000. It has to be done by June 30. I was always a pretty ruthless writer. In recent days I’ve begun feeling desperate.
A little while ago, I thought to myself, damn, you need a drink. So I went to the fridge and poured myself a strong one when Carol wasn’t looking. It was strong indeed, stronger than anything I think I’ve ever had. Not wanting to slam back too much, I grabbed one of the little 4-ounce plastic Tupperware water glasses, and filled it about three quarters of the way up with…whole milk. Not skim. Not 1%. Not 2%. The whole she-4%-bang. Eight proof–if any of my friends are drinking that hard these days, I haven’t heard about it. But then, in my desperation, I pulled down the little half-pint carton of heavy cream from which I take a few hazardous drops in my coffee every morning, and I filled the rest of the glass with it. Two quick spins with a teaspoon, and I held in my trembling hands a species of white lightning I have never tasted before. I raised it to my lips, and thought, moderation is for monks! Five or six gulps later, it was gone.
Oh. My. God.
This is a dangerous formula. It recalls my heedless days as a very young man (no more than seven or eight) when I would have a bigger glass of something almost this strong every single morning–and then another one when I got back back home after a hard day diagramming sentences and saving pagan babies. It reminds me of many things, including drinking melted vanilla ice cream with a straw at Aunt Josephine’s house one day when one of my cousins left the carton on the kitchen table too long one afternoon in July. Still cold; barely liquid; flowing, but under protest–and going down felt like wiping your throat with an expensive silk scarf. It reminds me of milk from my dairy farmer uncle’s refrigerator in Green Bay, which had still been inside the cow at 5 AM that morning. Smooth. Intoxicating. Satisfying. Almost beyond description.
Mostly it reminds me of what milk used to be. The day was when we didn’t cringe in terror at milk with 4% butterfat–we paid the milkman to leave it on the porch three times a week. 5% milk from Jersey cows bred to give richly could be bought from Hawthorn Mellody Farms at a premium. And the cereal commercials all said, “Great with milk or cream!” Picture yourself pouring table cream over a bowl of Cheerios. I don’t think you can. (I had trouble myself, and I’m a good imaginer.)
So. Are you man (or woman) enough to reclaim your heritage? Are you courageous enough to stop seeing all fat as radioactive waste? Can you do it?
Damn, that was good. You won’t know how good until you try it yourself. But be careful: Whole milk is not for sissies.