Confessions of a Food Fraud: stirring the pot

  • A true story though many names have been
changed to protect the innocent.

 

  • “So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.”

    Franz Kafka

     

    “Every man and every woman
    has a course, depending partly on
    the self, and partly on the
    environment, which is natural
    and necessary for each. Anyone
    who is forced from his own
    course, either through not
    understanding himself, or
    through external opposition,
    comes into conflict with the order
    of the universe, and suffers
    accordingly.”
    Aleister Crowley
     ⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️
    I ponder this excerpt frequently
    in quiet desperation while looking
    out the window of my
    Malibu beachfront property. It is
    an excerpt by Aleister Crowley’s
    ‘Magic; in theory and practice’
    I believe in magic. Or rather I
    should say, I believe that you can
    get anything you want. You begin
    with intention, and then ride that
    horse all the way to the Kentucky
    Derby. Things come together,
    people appear, and
    synchronicities collide,
    combustible molecules form that
    reduce alchemical base metals
    into gold, water into wine.
    And so it was, on that fateful day,
    way back in the late 70’s, where
    anything went. My claim to fame
    was as a dancer on the Vegas
    strip. A rocketeer, and my legs
    did the talking. But where had it
    led me? I was living in a small 3
    bedroom house, Beverly Hills
    adjacent, a single mother, with 3
    daughters to support. And I was
    pushing 40.! I’m sure I could
    have snagged some poor
    schmuck that would foot the bill
    for my current socio-economic
    status. But why? Why not think
    big?!
    As I breezed through The
    Beverly Hills Courier- a flimsy
    little magazine delivered to our
    door, graciously elevating us to
    the 90210 stratosphere, my eyes
    began to fixate on a black and
    white blurb, a small photo of a
    man playing tennis at the very
    exclusive hillcrest country club.
    Hmmmm…this might be that
    horse…I was momentarily
    interrupted by a knock on the
    door, and hurtled back into
    reality with my landlord’s request
    for the rent. He was a sleazy slick
    haired Italian and seemed to
    insinuate there were other
    methods of payment. And he always showed up when the kids
    were at school. I led him on, just
    enough to stall a week. I shut the
    door and picked up the phone.
    “Hillcrest country club? Yes, I’d
    like to sign up for tennis
    lessons.”
    !My gorgeous rocketeer legs
    were just hitting their final stride
    before their long descent and
    they went out with a bang, in
    those tiny tennis skirts I
    purchased at Fila. It worked like
    a charm. I had Frank Nicklepants in
    the palm of my hand.
    After a few weeks of dating I
    pinpointed his weakness. A
    weakness I would exploit until
    that rock was on my finger. Sex?
    No. He was past that stage and
    Viagra hadn’t been invented yet.
    No, it was very simple. Caveman
    simple. It was food. Food, a
    direct link to a man’s heart and
    stomach. And I knew just the
    little lady who would provide the
    service. Her name was Patrice and
    she owned a catering company in
    the valley called Food for thought.
    Patrice was no ordinary
    chef. She was an artist of the
    highest echelon. Her brownies
    alone could make a grown man
    whimper if denied, and she had a
    thirst for Hermes, an insatiable
    appetite for Georgio’s and
    Theodore’s. I knew she would
    chomp at the bit…and chomp
    hard she did.

    It started with cookies. She

    charged me $80 a batch,
    equivalent to $200 in today’s
    market. It was a small price to
    pay, and besides, now I had my
    own charge accounts, and cash,
    courtesy of Frank. Soon it
    escalated to breads-$90 for a
    loaf, Bastia, Tortes, mind
    blowing pies and cakes~ $1000 a
    pop. Frank would ask me to
    entertain small dinner parties and
    I willingly obliged, with the help
    of my very own Cyrano de
    Bergerac. The cash and jewels
    started rolling in~ a Cartier
    necklace for this party, a
    diamond bracelet for that party.
    We hosted a dinner party one
    night for Ted Kennedy and Frank
    introduced me as not just the chef
    but a true artist. Patrice had
    delivered the goods early that
    morning and no one was the
    wiser.
    But slowly, as the romance began
    to escalate, woven tightly in a
    thick web of lies, my mind began
    to unravel. It started with a close
    call. Patrice’s husband Henry,
    delivering food early one
    morning, tripped up the sprinkler
    system and broke the clicker for
    the garage. I had given explicit
    directions for Henry to stash the
    food in our 2nd freezer, knowing
    Frank could not possibly hear the
    garage door open from our
    upstairs bedroom. Frank ran
    outside and demanded to know
    what was going on, thinking Henry
    was a thief. Henry stood there in
    soaking wet clothes with
    sprinklers splashing his face, and
    piles of Tupperware at his feet.
    He explained that I had been
    “nice enough” to let his wife use
    the freezer in the garage because
    theirs had broken down in the
    middle of the night. That was a
    close call. Then I found out that a
    housekeeper had been stealing
    from me. I threatened to call the
    police and she said that if I called
    the police she would tell Mr.
    Nicklepants exactly who did the
    cooking in the house. So I let her
    stay, and continue to steal. The
    food kept coming, each dish
    more exciting and exotic
    than the last. Frank bought my
    daughter a house, and soon I was
    hearing those wedding bells.
    Things were finally coming to
    fruition. Everything I had set my
    mind on achieving. But there was
    a problem. I was slowly
    beginning to experience multiple
    personality disorder. My lies
    were catching up with me.
    Someone at a dinner party would
    ask me the recipe for something.
    I would become paralyzed,
    frozen, scared stiff. I would
    stutter that I didn’t recall and
    would send it to them the next
    day. And so began the
    memorization of every speck
    used in the cookies, cakes, the
    bread. I was an actress playing
    the role of a lifetime and these
    were my lines. If I could just
    keep it together until we were
    married, then I’d simply say “I
    don’t feel like cooking, let’s go
    out.” One day Frank came home
    and wondered why there weren’t
    any smells in the kitchen if I had
    been cooking all day. So I
    arranged for aromas to be
    delivered, and brought home all
    the cooking utensils I would
    need. Then he wondered how
    there was no trash. So I began to
    have trash delivered, the
    wrappers from ingredients Patrice
    had used. I was living a double
    life and started to believe it
    myself. I would tell Patrice how
    exhausted I was from cooking all
    day. And I believed it.
    The day finally came when Frank
    and I tied the knot, and I could
    stop the shenanigans. But at what
    cost? I would have to lie to Frank
    for the rest of my life, and now I
    had grown to love this man. I
    wanted our marriage to be pure
    and honest, but that was
    impossible now. It would be
    based on lies, and those lies have
    kept me fragmented, all these
    years, split from myself, from my
    center.

 

       And now, as I look out, on the
       crashing waves hitting the shore,
       I am in a wheelchair slowly
       rolling back to the sofa. I am
       imprisoned by my dark past and
       now physical limitations. I
       wonder if I really did get what I
      wanted, or was I misguided from
     the beginning? If I had truly
     listened to myself there would
     have been no room for lies or
     manipulation, and things might
     have ended differently. I’ve heard
     it said “The end depends upon
    the beginning” and maybe this
    wheel chair is my own self
    imposed punishment, the way I
   feel it should end. I ponder that
   quote again, from the beginning
  of this story….
“Anyone who is forced from his
own course, either through not
understanding himself, or
through external opposition,
comes into conflict with the order
of the universe, and suffers
accordingly.”
Did I follow that North Star all
those years ago, or was I forced
from my true course, not
understanding myself, and
therefore, not really knowing
what life was truly about?
Thinking the prize was that brass
ring…I now understand it is only
really about love. About giving
unselfishly, from the deepest depths of the
heart. And actually, I basically just paid
Patrice to do the hard part for me…and Frank
was happy…which is the bottom
line.
And so, I would say it did in fact,
all work out…. in the end, which was naturally….
based on the beginning.

rainbow suspender

  1. A true story.

I was on a bus one day, a long time ago. I saw this man, sitting directly across from me. He was maybe 60, 65….bald, fat, and special. He was wearing rainbow suspenders, like the electro-magnetic spectrum. He stood up to get off the bus and I followed him. He seemed superimposed with special colored molecules flying all around him. I asked if he wanted to come over for lunch. He said “OK” and we both took a bus back to my house. 

 My roommates were very flustered. They asked me to please make him leave. I told them that they brought friends overso why couldn’t I? They said it was different, meeting a stranger on the bus and taking him home. 

 I said that he was staying, and I began to prepare our lunch. He pulled out from the refrigerator the few remnants  I had left and began to assemble them, creating penguins with hard boiled eggs, olives for the feathers, and a tiny carrot for the beak. Then he looked at me seriously. He asked that we hum the sound “Aum” together and so we did. Then he tapped my forehead and did the same to his. I felt our minds converge on the second floor…in the same space. He just smiled. Then he took out an old photograph from the 1960’s. It appeared to be a bunch of hippies behind an old school bus, laughing. I felt like this photograph was a dream I have had before, and in it I had planted seeds to metaphorically bloom decades later. He simply showed me the photograph and then put it back in his pocket not saying a word. He took out another photo of himself with Henry Miller in Big Sur. He said they had been great friends. He said he also helped Terry Southern write Easy Rider and he took out a photo of them together. I wondered why he wasn’t on the credits but that seemed an inappropriate question to ask, and when I was with him, in that moment, it didn’t seem to matter “who got credit” for ideas generating from the same source.

Then, suddenly, he said it was time to go…and so we said good bye. 

 I watched those rainbow suspenders walk away until I couldn’t see them anymore.

 I can’t say exactly what happened that day except that it seemed to change me. It has made me less afraid of dying and is compelling me to tell you, the reader, all these years later, about that man on the bus…with the rainbow suspenders.

Chinatown

This is a true story from a long long time ago.

I was on my way to Chinatown one day, searching for red slippers. I had just come from yoga where our teacher had stressed the importance of breath. A long time ago prophets seemed to know what a special concept breathing was and made a point to cover it in the Bible. “God has made the breath to serve as the subtle link between body and soul. The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

So I was trying to remember this, and to be calm….when suddenly this enormous bus was at an awkwardly inappropriate angle in the middle of the road. I quickly forgot my peaceful state and demanded that the bus move. I was in the middle of the road turning left, with cars from the other side now approaching.  I carefully tried to slide by the bus within an inch, but something didn’t feel right. Patience. But I had to make a move, so I continued to slide by the bus.

Underneath that bus I saw a woman lying there on the ground. I quickly pulled over to the side of the road and got out. I was wearing paramedic pants which immediately gave me a backstage pass. I started to approach this woman on the ground, this small Chinese woman. I noticed a crowd gathering on the street corner, staring. I was almost at her feet when I watched the bus begin to move. Tons of people at the corner screamed “STOP!” but the bus kept going. It rolled over her stomach and legs, crushing them like pancakes. A yellow fluid (bile) rushed from her belly. A disbursement of blood and other items formed patterns around her. Frightening screams echoed in the streets, penetrating molecules in the air. I was calm. I said to her, “breathe” and took her hand, although directions weren’t necessary because her breath appeared to be on auto~pilot. It was a fast deep constant rush of inhalation, although her legs had been torn apart, and her stomach ripped open and splattered on the pavement, looking like Kung pao chicken.  She continued to breathe but I knew she would die and hoped it would be soon. I felt a stillness in the center of hysterics; and it felt natural to help her leave peacefully, with love. As I held her hand, her deep deep breathing continued for another minute, and then it all stopped. The connection broke just as the police and paramedics arrived. They asked me to step to the corner, that they would take over from there. They taped the area, leaving my vehicle inside the accident scene. I walked away to purchase the red slippers I had gone to Chinatown to buy. I attempted to act normal as all citizens in Chinatown became Chinese blurs. Red slippers. She was going home.

I wondered if this woman had led a life that somehow warranted a complete stranger to stop her car and hold her hand while she died. To feel compelled to give her the healing presence of love that I’m sure makes our transition more receptive to the changing circumstances. She must have.

I went to work that afternoon at a telecine facility called company 3. I assisted clients with their requests and no one had guessed that my hands had just held a woman who had her stomach and legs torn apart by a tire wheel. Some clients were impatient, as I had been earlier that day when the bus wouldn’t move. But I had just learned the secret of timing. And patience changes timing. And our timing is what makes up our experiences. Everything we see is because of our timing. Our choices and timing. Time and breath. “The air that I breath and to love you.”