I rode the A home another evening after seeing Juno at Gotham Square theater. An old chaika got on and sat next to me. We happened to be traveling to the same stop. She started chatting and told me she’d lost her feathers; they’ve been falling out one by one but haven’t grown back yet. Since she is presently wingless wraps a soft white shawl around herself tied with a knot to stay warm. The feathers she kept and stuffed them into a small pillow.
The chaika talked on and on. You know how they squawk. She told me about a special dinner she once ate. She said a little brown bear prepared for her for the lovers day when she was a young chaika—this was before all those dominoes fell to the earth. She took out a picture and showed me how beautiful she was then. Her grey feathers glistened silver and she looked fuller, not skinny and frail sitting next to me tied in her shawl. Her beak was wide open. I suppose that’s how chaikas smile, sticking out their little chaika tongues.
She told me about when she and the little brown bear decided to stay at home for the lovers day one year. A night out to dinner a week before surprised them with the most wonderful flavours they had ever tasted. Every bite made them giggle and squeal. They were in love and declared that night their off-lovers-day-lovers-day. For the lovers night, the little bear promised the young chaika a dinner even more magical than they had eaten at the little restaurant that could.
I hope I remember everything she told me the little brown bear cooked for her. She seemed a little uncertain herself as it had been so many years ago, and my pigeon chaika is a bit rusty, so perhaps this translation is poor. She did grant me permission to share with you and you and you..
A dinner prepared at home by a little brown bear for a young chaika
For the appetizer the little brown bear served red caviar on petits blinis with good butter. There were little gherkins and chopped hard boiled eggs, and little marinaded olives. They agreed they preferred rye bread or flat crispy crackers and decided to eat red caviar with them from now on. This night they enjoyed the blinis as a treat.
For dinner the little brown bear prepared a delicious steak—juicy and tender like they were—with heart shaped medallions of fine herbed butter on top. The little bear had trouble making heart shapes as the butter kept melting, but the chaika understood. Instead of frites, like the cupcake where they shared their first lunch together served, the little bear carved gems out of steamed red and blue baby potatoes—similar to how frogs make them. As a very special surprise the little brown bear roasted beets—which he knew the chaika loved—and carved them into hearts. He laughed when he served the giant roasted beet hearts. The little bear was proud and knew he was crafty. They sliced the giant hearts into many smaller hearts and ate them. The young chaika and the little brown bear giggled and kissed and loved. They ate a salad—the kind they usually prepared. The little bear asked only that the chaika make her special dressing for it. Otherwise, she would have to sit and wait for the little brown bear to serve their special dinner. She was not welcome in the kitchen that night.
For dessert the little brown bear surprised the chaika again. He made her keep her eyes closed, and not peek. No small feat, of course she squawked and giggled. From the kitchen he carried out a giant bowl and placed it on the table. In the bowl were wobbling pears poached in a secret wine bath. The little bear tried to keep them standing up while he served the chaika but these attempts were futile. The pears would not cooperate. The little bear served them in little bowls with a secret red sauce and a ginger crème. He would not tell the chaika what his secret recipes were.
For bubbles they drank pink Veuve and Pellegrino.
After their special lovers dinner at home the little bear and the young chaika fell asleep. In the morning they kissed.