Saturday, June 14, 2008

baba ganoush

Raisa is the archetypal mulier fortis of the vulgate septuagint.

She is a force of nature. She is Gaia. Mother Earth with an apron and an Oster Salon Pro.

I stumbled onto her unisex salon... no, no, I was led there by fate and destiny and the Oracle, one cold February Wednesday.

As she beckoned me with the curl of her sibyllic finger, I was captivated by an aroma uncommon to barber shops. Not oil, not sprays or gels or dyes. Something spicy and Mediterranean. Something the matriarchs of yesterfar would simmer and stir in terracotta pottery while dreaming of seeing their menfolk return from battle. An odor that took sole possession of the olfactory epithelium, the medulla oblongata and the loins.

A sculptor peers at a block of marble and sees Laocoon. Raisa appraises even the least promising of scalps and envisions art. She hovers over me, impatiently taps my temples to one side or the other, snorts and hyperventilates, changes clipper heads with a vengeance and in an apocalyptic flurry whips out her flat blade and slashes my neck hairs into submission.

The last time I saw Raisa she said, “Next time we try all hair, one length. Look good on head like you.”

A Greek goddess? An Armenian wonder wench? A Transylvanian she-revenant? I could only guess. But that smell...

Last Friday I went to the festival at St. George Cathedral. An ecumenical gesture and a much needed break from the rectory. As I wandered the grounds, it slowly subverted my senses... the unmistakable perfume wafting up from the depths of the fairgrounds.

Raisa! Or her progeny? I followed my nose to the food booths off to the left of the parking lot.

This is the cradle of life!”, I told the ruddy faced woman behind the hot plate. “This is the primal puddle from which Gaia herself has sprung!”, I cried.

“No. This baba ganoush. Good for you. Eat.”

As I dipped my pita flatbread in the steaming melitzano salata and pondered the oneness of all aromas, a light breeze stirred the branches of the poplar trees behind me.

All is one”, the zephyr whispered, “search no more.”