Patrick Would Laugh

Patrick would be laughing like crazy because I have been cooking so much since February.  He always tried to get me to learn to cook, but I like eating in restaurants too much and it felt like too much trouble to do it for just one person, even though that’s what he did.  Anyway, I can hear his laughter in the old recordings we made, so I know what he would sound like if he was alive today to watch me in the kitchen.

There are a few things I’m able to put together at home. The easy stuff involves browning some ground beef, opening a jar of Newman’s Own spaghetti sauce, and boiling up some pasta; or making a pot of ramen, with an egg or two dropped into the broth and whipped up like egg drop soup; or using Shake ‘n’ Bake seasoning for a chicken dinner with Ore-Ida mashed potatoes from a pouch; or tuna blended with Tuna Helper; or a can of chili augmented with a can of kidney beans and a half can of salsa.

A second wave of laughter would erupt when I told him that I’ve resumed pleasure reading at a much higher frequency than I have for years.

My subscription to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction began when I was in high school in the early 1970s. I subscribed because I love sf (I joins the SF Book Club in the late 1960s) and because I’d learned that Patrick was getting published there.

Though I let my subscription lapse for a few years during my most desperate times, I resumed it while I was still in Phoenix and used to read it regularly, sometimes a full month’s issue in one day.

As I grew older and busier with school, work, women, racing, and life, I let many of these issues pile up unread on my shelves, promising myself that someday I’d come back to them. Occasionally I’d read one or two when they landed in my mail box, or dig up a back issue to consider. I marked the ones I’d read on the first inside page so I rarely repeated a copy.

Oh, I’d dive into other stuff too: my issues of Old News when they arrived (detailed and fascinating but contained in just a few pages), selected columns from racing magazines, and technical journals, but the sf lingered mostly unopened.

This long-winded narrative is to explain that a couple of months ago, despite continued responsibilities and in the boredom and loneliness of the coronavirus pandemic, I revisited my collection and started reading again. Never one to leave well enough alone, I developed a data base to keep track of what I’d read, and when. Because of that, I can report that I have about 160 issues awaiting my attention. Lately I’ve been taking about two days to enjoy each issue. If I kept up that pace (though it’s unlikely because of the aforementioned responsibilities), I’d be done in about a year.

Meanwhile, each morning that I pour a cup of coffee, settle on the couch, and open another issue, I reflect on how much the pattern mimics Patrick’s own, and chuckle to myself again when I think how’d he be laughing now, delighted in the rekindling of my love for books.

And if Patrick happened to spy me with a spatula in one hand and a book in the other, drinking from a glass of red wine on the counter, his laughter would turn into a deep rumbling guffaw, and all would be right in the world.