Best Birthday Ever

It was Jack's birthday on Saturday and, bless her iron-clad Irish heart, his mom sent him a Zabar's "Don't Be Homesick" crate. Jack hasn't lived in New York since like 1975, but whatever. You can take the boy out of Queens but when his mom lives in Palm Springs there's no end to the discourse on how useless California bagels are.

Perhaps my favorite food on this planet: Zabar's cream cheese. Surpassed perhaps only by -- I can't think of anything. This is my favorite food on the planet.

But it's nothing without one of these! H&H; bagels, my friends. The one on the left (mine) sports a swipe of butter, because nothing makes me happier than butter under cream cheese.

I know it doesn't look like it, but I'm using the deliciousness sparingly. It must last long enough to grace sixteen bagel halves.

Lox! Growing up as I did in Denver, for much of my life lox was exotic cuisine, right up there with wienerschnitzel and witchetty grubs. Again, used somewhat sparingly on mine, less so on Jack's.

Ripe tomatoes in January? Alice Waters would throw an eight-inch cast iron skillet at my head if she knew.

Bermuda onion, sliced rather too thickly, I'm afraid. I'm not so hot with a knife . . .

. . . as you can see by the Fantastic Four bandage on my left forefinger. There was a classic moment from early on in our relationship when Jack was making dinner for us at his apartment and, as it sometimes occurs to me to offer help in other people's kitchens, I asked if there was anything I could do. He handed me a bunch of Italian parsely, a cutting board, and a knife and asked me to chop. Almost immediately I brought the knife down on my finger. Luckily, La Bamba market was right around the corner and I went to fetch myself some Band-Aids. Ten minutes later and all fixed up, I once again approached the cutting board and cut the shit out of my finger. I was henceforth relieved from all chopping duties under threat of merciless teasing. Right, so that was what, almost twelve years ago. All I've had to do ever since is walk out of the kitchen holding up a bloody finger and Jack rolls his eyes, I don't even have to explain, even though sometimes he wants to know how it happened so he can chuckle and make some crack about Captain Hook. God, he is hell to live with.

Other things to note in this picture: I am mistakenly squeezing a lime over my bagel instead of a lemon because apparently I still don't know the difference. Also, the manicure: after a brief e-mail discussion with Sarah B. I settled on two coats of OPI's Mrs. O'Learys BBQ and lots of top coat. It didn't chip for five days, a new personal best.

You can't see it but now there's salt and pepper on there.

Photographic evidence that I cannot abide capers.

Pour Monsieur . . .

. . . et Madame!

Delivered au lit. The expression on Jackson's face is meant to convey his displeasure at the smell of anything at that hour that's not drowning in maple syrup.

We spent the rest of the day in bed, the three of us, carving our way through four boxed sets of James Bond DVDs that Jack's brother had sent him. I knitted and wondered what steps I'd have to take to undo the macho role-modeling Jackson was soaking up. The upside: every toy in his room has been turned into a deadly spy gadget.

Jack's verdict: Best Birthday Ever.