The reason that war is such a fascinating subject for writers is because it's a revealer. Put a bunch of people in an adrenaline-fuelled, life-or-death situation and their fundamental behaviours are exposed, the scrim is taken away and the motivations behind each personality come out to play. But sometimes you don't need a foxhole to expose one's true nature. Sometimes all it takes is a reclaimed barn-wood kitchen.
I will be spending an upcoming long weekend on Cape Cod with some old college friends. Lest visions of The Big Chill dance in your head, no one has met a violent end – yet. The point of this little vacation is not to go to another town but to get away from towns and cities in general, so we intend to grill, drink, swim and play on the premises of my friend's home. That's one very big grocery trip. The hyper-organised host has sent out a spreadsheet of cooking responsibilities in advance. I, along with three friends, am tapped for "Sunday brunch duty". The preparation e-mails among our little group are already revealing.
Now seems like a good time to mention that I am a pretty good cook. Not a great one, but I can make a lemon ricotta pancake that will make your head spin and, despite my vegetarian condition, have never served undercooked bacon. My personality, when tasked with creating meals, goes something like this: Is there a way we can make this more difficult? Because let's do that. I don't mean to complicate things. It's just – why buy pre-packaged potato salad when you can spend your morning boiling potatoes and flipping out because there's no dill in the house?
Another member of this group is the default ringleader, laying out unsolicited plans from a near lawyerly perspective. One has to read his e-mails carefully, because when the fruit salad falls though, he will say he'd raised concerns about it weeks ago. The third is a professional eater. Last is a sweet, quiet woman who has yet to pipe up in e-mail form and offer her opinions. I think she just wants to sun tan, relax with friends and pitch in when she can. Silly girl.
Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello)