Baubles are hung on the Christmas tree, pretty glass orbs reflecting the lights filtering in through the windows shooting colors across the room like prisms, baubles buried into the green among the drapes of shimmering tinsel and popcorn garlands. Baubles and trinkets tucked into tissue paper, wrapped and beribboned, rings to be slipped on my finger; baubles offered, he waiting, watching expectantly as I open the bag, push back the tissue paper, a ring placed on my plate in a restaurant, hidden by my menu, or pulled out as the Hanukkah candles are lit or the Christmas dinner finished, dishes cleared, a ring of champagne crystals and silver bubbles.
Chilled Champagne and sparkling wines, festive for the holidays. Bubbles are always reserved, always essential on these special occasions. I wonder why? I have a dirty little secret I keep hidden, one I never admit to anyone especially he who joyfully proffers flutes of bubbles on each and every celebration. I prefer flat to bubbly. Effervescent, petillant, bubbly is splendid in a personality but in a glass I prefer sans. Bubbles in water, bubbles in wine, Champagne, is so sophisticated, so adult, so desired, yet I prefer without.
An infinite abundance of minuscule, microscopic bubbles like a mouthful of air or big, fat bubbles that burst on the tongue, shooting straight to the brain, light and fizzy, ethereal or robust, energetic bubbles. Which do you prefer? Champagne glass shaped upon, or so legend has it, the lovely assets of Marie Antoinette or a flute, tall, slender, elegant, sending the bubbles straight up your nose? The floor strewn with wrapping paper and curls of ribbon, the little children are offered glasses of sparkling cider, fizzy apple juice, joining in the fun, feeling so adult with the bubbles but without the alcoholic kick, simply drunk on excitement.
A spray of foam on a circle of golden-crusted scallop in a Michelin-starred restaurant, reminiscent of the ocean in wild, angry weather. A froth of bubbles modernizing an old-fashioned pudding, a classic île flottante. A mouthful of bubbles slurped up then rapidly disappearing, foam melting into an afterthought of flavor, a hint of basil, a memory of citrus, an intimation of oyster, an impression of vanilla. Bubbles of food, bubbles savory or sweet, nothing to sink one’s teeth into, nothing to chew, no satisfaction, all the rage. Like the tiny bubbles, spheres, orbs of molecular gastronomy, shimmering beauty yet unrecognizable but for the burst of flavor, pearlescent bubbles popping like caviar. Bubbles evaporating into nothingness.
Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. - William Shakespeare
Steamy water, near scalding. Sink down into the tub, bubbles circling my neck like an ermine stole, a landscape of winter white spread out before me. Listen carefully, the sizzle, sputtering, crackle of the popping of those tiny bubbles as if an invisible being, an angel, pinpricks each minuscule bubble one by one. A glass of bubbly close by on the rim of the tub, a book in hand, quiet time, girl time, alone time in bubbles. Alone time in my own bubble.
We had a bubblegum pink bathtub big enough for two and would fill that tub with bubbles and slip below the surface, neck deep in bubbles, and talk oh-so quietly.
A luxury hotel in the heart of Paris in the dead of winter a bathroom all in black and white with touches of gold. A bathtub big enough for two and a bottle of Champagne. Bubbles in white, bubbles in pink. Bubbles frothing over the edge onto the black and white floor.
Adult bubbles romantic. Effervescent.
A child’s laughter bubbling up and spilling over.
Bubbles were such a part of my childhood, the magic and fascination of bubbles being such a childish thing. My brother and I would blow hard into straws pushed down into the dregs of cups of chocolate milk, blow and blow until bubbles churned up, blow and blow until blue in the face, until those bubbles of chocolate milk haze arrived up to the cup’s rim. A contest.
Blowing bubbles from liquid soap, that tiny little wand sunk deep into the colorful plastic tube then bubbles blown, over and over again, the dog jumping up to snatch at each bubble snap snap, the taste of soap, my brothers and I laughing and laughing and teasing that dog by blowing more and more soapy bubbles. Blowing bubblegum bubbles the size of my head until that tremendous pop and pink, sticky stuff all over my face. Bubble baths on Sundays, bubbles scented of lavender or strawberry or bubble gum, bubbles scooped up and stuck on my chin and on top of wet hair, beards and weird hairdos just for a laugh. That swirl of white bubbles could turn me into a movie star just like mashed potatoes or chocolate pudding painted on puckered lips.
Soda pop drunken too fast, soda pop sucked up through a straw, the bubbles blowing straight up into my nose causing a coughing fit, an itchy nose and a sneeze. As long as the soda didn’t squirt out of my nose I was okay.
Scooping up handfuls of bubbles at the beach as I ran along the water’s edge, collecting shells and sea glass or blowing bubbles, head underwater, at the swimming pool. We would then stop at the ice cream parlor for chocolate milkshakes on the way home and nothing more fun than sitting in a booth blowing air through a straw, blowing thick, drowsy bubbles in a chocolate milkshake.
I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air
I cook, you wash up. Our marriage is one of trade offs and compromise and since we both cook, this has been our deal since the very first meal we prepared together in that tiny little doll’s house in the Paris Suburbs. (Although I clean as I go and leave behind me very little to do while he, yes, he leaves behind a tornado of a mess.)
Plunging my hands into a sink full of bubbles, I think of all the years we never had a dishwasher. My mother never owned one, refusing the installation of a dishwasher in 1962 when the house was built, explaining that extra cabinet space would be more useful. Every single evening until I left home eighteen years later, it was I who was selected to help with the dishes. Can I wash? Please? I would beg, night after night. No, she would invariably answer, I wash you dry. And I would watch longingly as she plunged her hands into the hot water and bubbles, scrubbing each plate, rinse and stack. That was what I wanted to do. Grudgingly, under threat of punishment, I would stand next to her wiping dishes, glasses and silverware with a towel growing gradually damper and damper, and my mood growing damper and damper. Hands in a sink full of warm bubbles, the rhythmic, hypnotic movement of cleaning is soothing, therapeutic, a time to let my mind wander and dream.
Kitchen bubbles. The slow motion movement of a bubble rising to the surface of thick, creamy cake batter, a bubble growing then bursting, popping with a tiny pop revealing a pocket of air hiding a bit of flour, batter flopping over and melting into the quicksand of batter. The slow rise and fall of bubbles on the surface of soup, simmering, rise and fall, the easy, sluggish rise and fall of bubbles like lava in slow motion or the quick, violent succession of bubbles and when a bubble bursts it sends a fine spray of soup spattering on the stovetop. Glug glug spit or rat-a-tat-tat spatter. Yeasty bubbles forming a hilly landscape along the surface of bread dough, languid and sticky, bubbles just begging to be poked. Bubbles baked onto the top of a cake like blisters.
We would like to wish each and everyone a joyous Holiday Season.
We will see you in the New Year! Cheers!