The Onion Story:
A long time ago, I was enamored with a gentleman from Lancaster. We met at a club, and had a few dates in LA, but eventually I took the train up to spend the weekend with him. I packed ingredients to make him crepes for breakfast because then, and now, I court people by cooking for them.
He wanted to go to a friend’s club event in Bakersfield. I was running club events in LA at the time so I dressed up: mini-dress, five inch heels, makeup. I could’ve saved the trouble. The “club” in Bakersfield is someone’s guest house. I was the only one who bothered.
In any case, we were driving back from Bakersfield to Lancaster at 2:30AM, and he says, “You know… what I really want for breakfast tomorrow is an omelet, but there’s no where we can buy onions or cheese or anything.”
Confident he was incorrect, I whipped out my then rudimentary kinda-smart phone and discovered that there is in fact no where you can buy anything halfway between Bakersfield and Lancaster at 2:30AM. Just gas.
He pulled over for gas, and I went inside like a woman on a mission. I don’t know what I was expecting, but tired-brain is often over-hopeful and a little naive. I actually found cheese pretty quickly, all-natural cheddar sticks in a fridge next to salame, and string cheese.
But as you can imagine, there was no onion in the gas station. I found bananas, and some desperate part of my brain was saying, “It’s close! It’s produce!” Then, as I was about to check out, I noticed there was a closed subway sandwich shop in the corner of the gas station.
“Hi,” I said awkwardly to the guy at the counter, “Hey, listen, I’m trying to make breakfast for the guy I’m with but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere around here you can buy an onion or anything.”
Teller’s response look clearly says: lady, where do you think you are exactly.
But I continued, “It occurs to me though, that there are onions in the Subway. I was hoping I could buy one.”
“I don’t think I can help you. Let me get my manager.” Because clearly, if there are two guys on shift in the middle of nowhere one of them is the manager.
“What seems to be the trouble,” the manager asked.
Right, I thought, I’m dressed like a stripper at 2AM. I’m trouble. That’s fair.
“See the good looking guy outside?” Queue guy friend now visible and looking rather nice in his air force jacket. “I’m trying to make him breakfast, but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere around here I can buy an onion. It occurs to me though, that there are onions in the subway, so I’d like to buy one. I don’t need a sandwich or anything. I literally just want an onion.”
“Does a dollar sound fair?”
I walked outside and deposited my bounty in the center console. He stared at the onion for a long moment, and then finally looked at me, and said, “you’re ridiculous.”
And we both laughed.
That story has become a kind of mythos in my life. And the onion came to symbolize my particular ability to make important or difficult to acquire things appear for people I care about.
It is regretfully not a skill I have traditionally had any luck employing for myself. In the last year I’ve done some of the best work of my life, largely because it was all pre-destined to belong to someone else.
Today though, as an exercise in self-healing, I made a conscious decision to make art for myself. And to that end, I finally materialized an onion for myself.