A teaspoon of thyme… the fuck is thyme?
No, calm down MJ. I’ve got thyme. I wrote this recipe down and wrote the ingredients down on a separate sheet, both so I could bring something to the bodega for shopping, and, hopefully, to burn it into my frontal lobe.
You’re probably confused. I’m not surprised. I don’t cook. I never cook. My culinary expertise is limited to the coffee pot and the toaster. And the microwave. Even when I lived with my parents, they were the king and queen of takeout. Every now and then my mom’s bassist would make some kind of spaghetti and sauce, or her guitarist would do carnitas – but that’s few and far between.
Read between the lines, I haven’t eaten much fresh food in my life.
Last year I started dating a wonderful man. He’s laid back, he’s kind, he’s quick witted and funny, he’s cute as hell, and he doesn’t give a flying crap that I’m famous or that my parents are famous.
Most importantly as it relates to this conversation, he’s a professional chef. Well, to be specific per his request, he’s a line cook by title. But twice a week he’s his kitchen’s sous chef. Only one on the line that gets to do it. Look it up, it’s a big deal.
Obviously he can cook. I don’t like to take advantage of it but he insists that it relaxes him, so I simply don’t complain. Tonight, I’m trying to return the favor.
And may god have mercy on my soul.
No, to be honest I think I’m doing all right. I’ve got a pork loin that I’ve been marinating, sweet potatoes in my oven, and a conga line of ginger, garlic, and brussel sprouts to cook in a pan on the stovetop. I’ve left nothing to chance.
Even as I sip on a good quality malbec, there’s another bottle on top of the cabinets, and a bottle of Chardonnay and a bottle of 2008 Dom in the fridge. This is a special occasion – we’ve been together for over a year.
Yeah. ‘Over’ a year. Neither of us are really sure where the day is. But I met him in a lacklustre dive called The Last Resort that I stepped into on a whim, just for a change. Place was empty – and as it turns out, about a month from closing – because I wanted a drink in an environment where nobody was going to step up to me and try to talk.
It worked too well – my guy Kevin and the bartender, Leanne – they had no idea who I was and I suddenly had my spot to just ‘be.’ Good timing, too, since I was feeling stagnant in my place of employment and desperate for a change, and I treasured the moments that I could just… be.
And it’s been a year since I showed up in High Octane Wrestling as a guest of Eric Dane and Lee Best to be part of that year’s War Games team, coinciding with the night that Kevin and his crew were closing up and one of the other cooks flipped the kitchen TV to HOW Refueled because why not.
And the boy called me to say ‘Hey, so… what do you do for a living?’
He’s still here.
Despite my being gone as often as I am.
Despite his getting dragged thru the mud via ballsacks like Mike Best bringing him up on social media.
Despite the number’a times I’ve had to call him from a hospital room to say yeah, I’m okay.
With that shit flockin’ around his brain, he’s all ‘Yeah I like you, I love you, I don’t really care what your job is or who your parents are, except that I wish you’d told me from the start so we could be in it without secrets.’
This is what I’ve been missing. I’m with someone that I don’t feel like I have to hide portions of my life from. Someone that doesn’t look at me as an object or a trophy. Doesn’t get jealous of my friendships because of trust. Doesn’t get jealous of my celebrity because of self esteem.
I’ve admittedly lived a very different life than most people my age, and when I tell him that he couldn’t understand how I feel about some issue, he doesn’t get angry – he asks me to say it how I’m feeling it and he’ll keep up. When he knows that sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all.
So I’m giving myself time to relax tonight. I wasn’t booked last night at Refueled, and I’m not booked next Saturday at Refueled. Taskmaster says I’ve been working hard, he’s proud’a me, and I can take one night off.
So I am.
It’s not entirely by choice. I’d love to be booked at Refueled 29 and have one more chance to get some eyes on me and… maybe… earn the right to get picked for the War Games pool, but unfortunately I’ve run out of time. It’s all well – I have nobody to blame but myself. I fought hard, I kicked ass, but sometimes it’s just not meant to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still showing up at Refueled, and I’m still gonna do my best to make an impact, but what are the odds that Lee drafts me now?
The certainty is disappointing, but oddly liberating. Hopefully I can get myself an opponent, or me and Jack can get ourselves a tag team match to open up War Games – but that’s still some time away. Right now I’m just looking to do something nice for someone that’s had my back since literally day one in High Octane.
Here’s hoping I don’t poison him.
But it’s a good day. I’m cookin’ and I’m drinkin’ and I’ve got Kittie blasting in the background – these old bands really knew how to do it up.
I’m so into my exciting night of playing Suzy Homemaker that I barely hear my phone’s notification go off. I’ve only got it set to ping for news on Impulse, Valerian’s Garden, and High Octane Wrestling. Cally would tell me if something was going on with Pulse, same with Mom or Uncle Teej with Garden.
I wasn’t booked last night and I’m not booked next week, so I really only looked at the notification to clear it. Quick scan and remove, easy – peasy.
Lee Best Selects MJ Flair to fill out his War Games team
Oh, cool. I clicked it off, put my phone down, and was about to drop my sprouts when my brain caught up to me.
So these need to cook for twenty minutes, stirring constantly before you add the ginger wait.
You don’t have to eat it, I insisted. It probably sucks, I really wasn’t paying attention.
“No, it’s really good,” said Kevin, taking another bite of pork. I swear it’s underdone but he’s the chef and he insisted that it’s medium rare and just right.
The side dish, however, was a lost cause.
He got here and saw me sitting on the kitchen counter, frantically reading every website I could think of to get some more details on what was obviously a practical joke. He pulled the pork out of the oven in time but I hadn’t been stirring the sprouts, and while they averaged out to perfect, even I know that ‘raw on one side and burned on the other’ isn’t ideal.
I’ll call this half a victory. Which doesn’t mean a fucking thing because half a victory is still half a defeat. But I can’t even wrap my mind around it yet because my search for the source of the hoax led to confirmation after confirmation after confirmation after confirmation.
When I came back to High Octane Wrestling in January, all I wanted was the opportunity to regain the LSD Championship. While Max Kael won it completely fair, it was a triple threat match and I wasn’t pinned which I feel makes it entirely appropriate that I’m looking for a one on one match to answer the unanswered.
As the LBI continued, the likelihood of earning this became more and more remote, and I thought that the best chance for me to earn that shot was via War Games.
As this year continued, the likelihood of earning this became more and more remote, to the point where – even as I officially qualified to be drafted – I assumed it was a lost cause.
A day after I was sure the door had closed, I learn that indeed it had – but I was in.
I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I need to call my dad. I need to call my friends. I need to start training for this yesterday.
Relax, I said. Breathe and flow.
“So this is like last year’s deal, right?” he asked. “You did really well last year.”
Almost, I said. It’s the same match – two teams, one person enters at a time until we’re all in, and then we eliminate each other. But I don’t have any friends on my team this time.
He raised an eyebrow. “No Jack?”
I shook my head. No Jack. It’s Max Kael, Andy Murray, and…
I swallowed, feeling the bile in the back of my throat as I try to say his name without vomiting.
Kevin shuddered when I said the name. “Dude I feel like I need to take a shower now, the way you said that.”
I clenched my teeth, nodding my head in agreement.
“Okay,” he continued, “So I know Max. He’s the guy you and Jack fought at Alcatraz. And I know Andy Murray from you guys’ deal a few weeks ago. I don’t know the other guy.”
Little Jimmy Witherhold, I said. He’s an arrogant, ass- sucking clown.
He laughed. “I feel like you’ve met him before?”
I nodded. First company I ever worked, he was the champion when I started. King Shit of Little Mountain, and from the look of it, he’s been limp dickin’ it around the sport ever since, tryin’ to recapture the feeling’a that initial high, desperate for someone to tell’em he’s relevant.
Kevin shrugged. “If he’s on your team, you’re gonna have to find a way around that. I believe that falls under what you’d call the ‘tough shit law’?”
Cute, I said, raising an eyebrow in his direction, using my own jargon against me. Yeah, you’re not wrong. I tell you though, I’m glad Max is on my side.
That thought gave him pause. “Max Kael? The guy that took your title?”
Yep, that guy, I said. Little jimmy should’a been deposited in a sock. Andy Murray decided ta make it personal on night one. Me and Max, our differences have always been professional. And I know I can trust his competitive spirit ta be a team player at least until the other side is down ta just Mike and Fartypants.
“You’re probably right. They were the originals, weren’t they?”
I nodded. The Group’a Death, they can all-for-one-and-one-for-all it all they want, but if push comes ta’shove, I’ve got no doubt Mike, Cecilworth, or Max would let Ryan or LT go down in flames if the shit was in the pan and they had ta’ sacrifice someone.
It took me a second to realize he’d cleaned his plate. Damn, I said. I really did okay with it?
“Yeah, it was good,” he replied, “Was missing something though. Didn’t ruin the dish, just–”
Fuck, I said.
He raised his eyebrows as I looked at the counter.
I forgot to add the thyme.