I’m feeling sad today about David Bowie. To be fair, I’m not even a huge fan outside of the hits, and I’ve never seen the 1980s generational touchstone Labrynith. Yet I feel the loss of a true weirdo in a world of normals. I feel the loss of a bold creative energy in a land of corporate togetherness.
I haven’t been doing a good job lately of keeping up with my own creative energy, writing-wise. Today’s loss reminded me that I need to put stuff out there, to be weird, to create, to string stupid words together hoping that someone will glean some stupid meaning from them.
But write about what? I don’t know. Why am I in such a rut creatively lately? I don’t know.
Welp, I guess I’ll just have to REGALE you with the story of the first time I ever ate a cannoli. Yes, I’m not just telling this story; I am REGALING IT. This story is part romance, part nostalgia, part mystery, part tragedy, part suspense…and more.
The romance part: I was about three months into dating my now wife/then-girlfriend at the time. We were in that glowing, giddy stage of our relationship before kids, before joint accounts and bills, before we knew each well enough to even be able to disagree. We were in the “let’s spontaneously go to the beach” stage. So we’re in the “having a weird, wild, drunken time, sleeping it off in the sun all day, and doing it all over again at night.”
But first, on this sauna-like hottest morning of the summer, we needed breakfast. It was June, in Maryland, and it was 100 degrees outside. And we were a little hungover.
What would be a great breakfast idea? Some dark off-the-boardwalk hole-cave that serves eggs and hashbrowns, right? Nah. I was living large at the moment. I was high on life. I decided I wanted a cannoli for breakfast.
Now, these days my wife would look at me and say, “that’s the most digusting idea you’ve ever had, what the hell is wrong with you wanting to eat a cannoli for breakfast in 100 degree weather.” But back then she just said, “okay.”
The nostalgia part:
Here’s the exact scene of the crime. This picture I found online is appropriate — this would be the exact child’s-eye view of Julia’s, a place I’ve shuffled past down the boardwalk, every summer since childhood and beyond.
I’d never had a cannoli. I did not even know what a cannoli was. For twenty-seven years, my sole reference for a cannoli is the very illustration you see here.
Why had I never had a cannoli? No idea. I guess my family was more the standard-grocery-store-fare of Entemann Donuts and boxed Rice Krispie Treats for dessert.
The suspense part: Was it a doughnut-like thing? A savory cheese-filled thing? What was it? And just what would happen when our brave heroes ate the rich, thick, heavy desserts in the thick, heavy heat of the morning, on empty, unwell, hangover stomachs?
The weird part: it was like 8am. Why was a dessert place even open at 8am? I swear I’ve never seen it open that early before or since. It’s kind of like the movie Big where that random fortune teller machine is just randomly there at that exact moment.
The romance part 2: Derp, maybe I was sorta kinda trying to impress the girlfriend as well. She’s half-Italian and was always talking about how we had to go to (legit, actual Italian pastry shop) Vaccaro’s in Little Italy to get cannolis sometime. I was all like WHY NOT HERE WHY NOT NOW. LET’S JUST DO THIS CANNOLI THING RIGHT HERE ON THE BOARDWALK AT 8AM.
So we ordered cannolis and we sat down at the one of the picnic tables. I took a bite of the overtly-rich, heavy, sugar-laden dessert…and realized it was not a breakfast food. I could already feel it sinking like an anchor in my stomach, ready to sit like an undigested uncomfortable brick of sugar FOREVER.
Me: “Wait, this isn’t a breakfast food.”
Her: “I know.”
It was a Han and Leia moment with that dialogue. She knew the whole time. And I think, in that moment, I first loved her. Because she put up with my dumbass wanting a cannoli, fully supported my crazy idea, ordered one for herself, and went along gamely.
The mystery part: Julia’s has been on the boardwalk in Ocean City for a billion years. How? How does a cannoli stand thrive in a beach resort town? Who could possibly want one when it’s perpetually 105 degrees every day in the summer in Maryland?
The tragedy part: My stomach the rest of that day.