By request, here are my Top 3 Memories Involving Cheese:
3. I used to date a Mormon. She was a nice girl, a tall girl with red hair and a gentle loping gait. After our break-up, we stayed in touch. She would invite me to her parties - gatherings where Mormons and non-10-percenters would cordially gather and festively laugh but not cause too much trouble. In 1995, she invited me to the Christmas party she was hosting with her slutty roommate. My cousin Sharif (then quite the angry intellectual) and I traveled down to Long Beach, from the 310 and 818 respectively. We arrived with a mixture of cynical anticipation and scornful superiority (and cheap Trader Joe's wine) because that was what single men in the mid-90s did. The Mormon offered us some hot cider and what would become her signature Christmas party dish - hot melty brie and slices of warm pear on French bread. The combination of flavors coalesced in my barely-30 mouth and though I will forever resent the Mormon for saying the worst thing to me that anyone has ever said (something no one else will ever hear), wow that brie was good!
2. As a little boy I would react with glee when my mom brought home the Laughing Cow cheese in its little triangles-in-circle package (creamy Swiss of course). Not a specific memory... just a general recollection. We were in River Vale, New Jersey then. We shopped at the A & P usually. Sometimes Super-Saver. Those stores seemed bigger than the ones I shop in today. They were probably smaller.
1. It was a cold and snowy Saturday late afternoon in 2000. I was having coffee and writing a (likely) plotless short story on my first laptop at Espresso Royale Cafe in Dinkytown (Minneapolis, USA) - still my favorite coffee shop ever. I got hungry. I went up to the counter and ordered up a piece of their crusty French bread. As I was in the throes of my half-marathon training, I declined the counterperson's offer of butter. But then she asked if I wanted any cheese. Cheese? I hadn't thought of cheese. Could I have cheese? Since when did Espresso Royale carry individual portions of high-end cheeses wrapped in cellophane in their refrigerated display case? How would the cheese affect my training? While she waited for my decision, Alicia the counterperson said that she'd give me the cheese for free, that I can't have bread without cheese, not on a cold day in the Midwest. Yes, I remember Alicia's name. I had a crush on her. No I wasn't married then. Yes I was engaged but hey I wasn't blind.
"It's Havarti," she told me. "It's really good."
Yeah it was good. It was dill as well. She didn't tell me it would be dill. I may have been scared by the dill. But I didn't know any better. I just spread the soft beautiful cheese on the soft pillow of the crusty bread and soaked in the world around me - the snow flurries, the huddled college students, the music (they were playing mid-period Tears For Fears; yeah the music could have been better) and of course the Havarti.
(Note: my memory plays tricks on me. It might not have been snowing. They could have been playing Modest Mouse. It might have been 2001. I might have been married. I know it was a late Saturday afternoon - that I'm certain of.)