Last Wednesday night we ate Honey & Co’s sabiche. That used to be our favourite dinner, which was good because
- it is quick,
- it is healthy and full of raw garlic and chilli and roasted aubergine and orange-yolky Burford Brown EGGS, my eggy little loves,
- there is no meat in it,
- it tastes like the heavenly angels, but with some fiery heat in them. Tough, urban heavenly angels from the middle east, maybe, and
- also, it has garlicky tahini drizzled all over it, with flatbreads from the middle eastern shop, warmed and crunchy with the hot garlic chilli lemony cumin honey parsley sauce and the rich delicious posh eggs and aubergine and OH MY.
But then Mark said one night, apropos of nothing:
‘I think I am over sabiche. Eating it every second night for this past year has dimmed the fierce passion I had for it. Could we please have steak and mashed potatoes and cauliflower cheese?’
And I was both sad, and mad. So now we have it whenever I get it through the Dinner Suggestion Selection process, about once a week when his resolve is down, mostly from his being distracted by larger things than Dinner Suggestion Selection. So Wednesday night, we ate it, and we loved it again, because absence makes the heart grow fonder, etc etc, and we got ready to have noisy stomachs from the raw things in it and garlic-extruding pores for a few days, because it is frankly worth it. And after two episodes of Nashville season two, and a chapter of The Luminaries (not loving that book AT ALL) we went to bed.
An hour and a half later, the light goes on in our room and Mark gets up and yelps.
OUCH MY BACK MY SIDE MY N*TS OUCH
and he rolls onto the floor and gets up and splays himself on the bed and clutches his side and rolls back onto the floor and crawls to the bathroom to loudly retch and gets back into our room and moans and goes all clammy and grey. And I pull my earplugs out and look across and see a man having a baby. Or a heart attack or some such other alarming thing and I think:
‘The sabiche is killing him! I have poisoned him with too much raw garlic and chili and now he is going to die because I JUST REALLY LIKE MAKING SABICHE FOR DINNER EVEN THOUGH HE IS PRETTY MUCH OVER IT AND IF I WAS JUST KINDER AND STUCK WITH MEAT AND POTATOES HE WOULDN’T BE DYING RIGHT NOW’
And so, because I am quite calm in a crisis, I ask him if he is, in fact, having a heart attack, or whether he thinks he has been poisoned by the sabiche, but he cannot reply because he is too busy lurching himself from surface to surface, bellowing and making crying noises. So I obviously start googling in order to work out what to do, because with him down, there wasn’t exactly any grownups on the premises to help. Only me, which makes you realise that just because you are nearly 40, you aren’t necessarily very good at being in charge or knowing what to do when someone starts dying in front of you.
The googling thing wasn’t brilliant and my usual sharp researching skills were dulled by my growing panic and that shaky nervy lack of sleep cack-handed slowness. So I called the ambulance, and the guy at the other end was going through the list of questions, asking me to ask Mark whether the pain felt stabby or dull, thuddy or trickling, and I could barely hear the man over Mark’s vomiting, and so we mutually agreed to stop the q&a phone charade and just get him up to the hospital.
And – who knew? – the A&E at 12:30am on a Wednesday night is just FULL to spillage of glassy-eyed, belching, whiffy people shouting at each other. Mark and I walk in, him kind of bending and twisting and stopping and moaning, still grey and clammy, in the zone of pain just like you get when you have a baby exiting your bits. And a blokey triage nurse takes a look at him and pulls him into a room and says:
‘Mate, I think you have kidney stones. And I am sorry.’
And they whip him in and strap him down and give him morphine and oxygen and I ask the doctor if he will ever be normal again and she says yes. I say:
‘Is it like having a baby?’
And she says yes, and I say:
‘I’ve had five.’
and she looks at me and we do a tiny little bit of mental fist-pumping, and she fixes him with kindness and care and drugs and I take photos of myself and the curtains because there wasn’t a lot to do except listen to the heart rate monitor and the drunk guy snoring next door, and Mark said he didn’t want to be Instagrammed. Actually, he didn’t say that, he was still whimpering through the pain at that point.
This is me at 3:30 am:
And the curtain:
We got home at 6:00am, and two kids were up playing on the iPad and they didn’t even notice we were gone. And Mark went to bed and I felt sorry for myself because I was tired, and I realised that I have never before stayed up all night. What kind of nearly 40-year old sheltered clean-livin’ dull-type person hasn’t ever stayed up all night? WHY DIDN’T I JOIN THE 1990’s RAVING YEARS OF MY WORLDLY PEERS? There’s a world of regret in that sentence, although I do like some timely shut-eye.
Mark has recovered very well and I have done my best to be kind and supportive and loving and nice. I am not great with sick people, to my eternal shame, but there was no doubt this was more than your usual man-flu-type situation. And guess what we are having tonight for dinner, fellas?