There are long grey veils of rain sweeping through the late autumn day, but a friend and I have planned to go to the zoo, and we're going, by God. Ellen insists on bringing the same sandwiches she's always brought to Vernon Park, from childhood onward.
She makes your basic BLT's in my kitchen, adding red onion, twice the usual bacon, plenty of mayo, and luscious late tomatoes. This is all wedged between thickly cut slabs of toasted homemade bread. The bread is of the "noble brick" variety, which is important. Then Ellen puts her big strong palm on the assembled sandwiches and leans all of her majestic weight on them. The flattened product is then wrapped in waxed paper and allowed to grow stone cold as we drive to Vernon Park.
We watch bears cavort with delight in their daily shower, and it seems perfectly O.K. that we're standing in a heavy cold mist ourselves. We can live just fine in the day drizzling its grey pearls, we just have to put our hoods up. We watch tigers stalk and ripple with their lordly stripes. They chew their way through buckets of bloody treats. If we were more delicate people we'd be disgusted, but instead it makes us crave meat. So we open the waxed paper and eat our BLT's.
I hadn't expected much from these lumpy little doorstops, but I'm astonished at how good they are. The BLT is now a glorious mash with the silky tomato, salty bacon shards and onion bits all smashed together between the indestructable bookends of really good bread, still with the glint of grain. We and the tigers finish our perfect lunches. They lick their paws and we lick our fingers. As we walk away we go through all our various vowels of happy satiation: