I’m not embarrassed: I’ve admitted it before, and things have not changed, despite the fact it is the summer season.
I don’t want to be outside.
Out of doors. In the fresh air and sunshine. For any reason.
I was reminded of this when someone recently asked an innocent question.
“Karl, I know you played sports when you were a kid. What are your favorite sports now you are a rapidly degrading oldster?”
“Well,” I replied, “ I did love sport when I was a kid, that’s true. I enjoyed every sport I could play that involved running into people and attempting to hurt them. I played hockey and, to warm up for this most magnificent of sports, I played football. To cool off after the hockey season, I played some lacrosse. The football and lacrosse made me uncomfortable because they were played outside.”
“How about now?” The interrogator was fast becoming an irritant. “I mean, do you play golf?”
“Oh no,” I said, a note of alarm in my voice. “You have to be outside to do that. There’s weather and insects involved.”
“How about tennis?”
“Not a chance. Outside, you know.”
“Nope. Sun. Fresh air. Bugs. Trees. Water.”
“How about slow-pitch softball? No deal, cause it’s outside, huh?” There was a smug tone to the fellow’s voice.
I felt a sudden urge to clobber the guy. Yes, it is played outside, but there is a list as long as one’s arm of reasons not to be caught dead playing slow-pitch softball.
I interrupted. “Look, pard what is this, the Inquisition? I’ve made it clear: I don’t indulge in outdoor activities. My sole sport at the moment, and for quite a few years, is lifting heavy objects and putting them back down again. I do this indoors. If I could put shades on the gym windows to block out the scenery and the light, I would do it. If I could close the windows to keep fresh air from entering the gym, I would do it. Am I communicating here?”
“Well” said the person who had determined he and I would never be friends, “you sure live in the wrong place, don’t you?”
His remark stuck with me.
He was right on the mark.
I am out of my element. I live in the midst of some of the most wonderful mountain turf imaginable here in Siberia With a View, a place rife with outdoor opportunities, in any season. To not indulge these opportunities is crazy.
So, I admit it: I’m nuts.
I am distinctly uneasy outdoors. I cringe at the thought I might find myself out of doors longer than it takes to get from shelter to car, car to shelter. If I have to walk more than twenty feet in the open air, I get itchy for the comfy confines of a building and start looking for a doorway.
I’m not agoraphobic, mind you; I’m not seized by panic in open spaces.
I just like the interior of buildings. They are like caves. Wombs.
Dr. Freud, your patient is ready.
My all-time favorite place to live is Manhattan. I resided on the isle when I was younger. If I could afford it, I would live there now. Living in Manhattan was a matter of being indoors, with brief (the briefer the better) dashes from one interior space to another. Preferably, at night.
Sure, there are geeks in the city who head for Central Park any chance they get. They are mutants.
“Karl,” you might be tempted to ask, “why the aversion to the great outdoors if you haven’t given it a chance?”
Aha, got ya!
I follow three generations of Coloradans in my family and, in their spirit, I spent my youth wandering around the mountains of the state, long before the terrain was trashed by immigrants seeking somewhere prettier than the crumb-ball environment they once inhabited, in search of a relatively unsullied spot to ruin with one unrealistic demand and project after another.
I was outdoors a great deal of the time when I was young, in places where an encounter with another human being was unlikely, where there was absolutely no chance of spotting some flatlander’s grotesque alpine dream home. I spent weeks at a time isolated in the mountain wilderness.
I got my fill.
Now, I want to be indoors.
All of the time.
My gas grill has rusted away on the deck because I don’t want to be out there with the breeze, the bugs, the birds. Or the morons who drive up and down my street at high speed, mind-numbing racket pouring from monster car sound systems.
My entertainment is indoors. My occupation is conducted indoors. My sport takes place indoors.
Leave the outdoors, or what is left of it, to others.
The last couple of decades, we rare, native Coloradans have been inundated with newcomers lured to the state by aesthetically pleasing vistas and the abundance of outdoor recreational activities. They swell the ranks of organizations dedicated to pursuit of these activities. Outdoor clubs abound.
I think there should be an organization for the indoor crowd.
There must be quite a few of us who have decided we would rather stay indoors — either because we are saddened by the destruction of the outdoor environment by its many fans, or, like me, because we prefer womb to wide-open space.
As a result, I am forming the Colorado Indoor Club. Our first chapter will be organized right here in Siberia With a View.
I’ll provide the meal for the first meeting.
It will include dishes that can be prepared indoors and, since summer is upon us, it will have to involve the minimum use of heat. Summer, after all, happens indoors too.
First, a variation of the Italian classic: La Caprese di Bufala. It is a variation because I can’t get some of the traditional ingredients here. I’ll improvise.
This is a simple salad. I can make it because our supermarket stocks“fresh” mozzarella. The balls of cheese come submerged in water in a little plastic tub. Unfortunately, it’s not mozzarella made from the milk of a water buffalo (hence “Bufala” in the original) but it will do.
The recipe requires the cheese, fresh tomato, fresh basil, high-grade extra-virgin olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper, and that’s it. Slice of cheese, slice of tomato, basil leaf, drizzle of oil, bit of seasoning, repeat. Perfecto.
If I can’t find a decent ripe tomato at the store, (when was the last time that happened?) perhaps there will be some sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes on the rack. If so, the salad can be made as suggested in Marcella Hazan’s “Marcella Cucina” where sliced cherry tomatoes, cubes of cheese and hunks of fresh basil are tossed together with a teensy bit of red wine vinegar, oil and seasoning and left to get acquainted for a while before serving.
To go with the salad, some steamed asparagus, just a bit past al dente, dressed with a butter and lemon sauce.
Chicken breasts anyone? Some boneless breasts, sliced and pounded out to a uniform quarter inch thickness, dredged in seasoned flour and sautéed in a mix of half butter, half olive oil. When browned, the cutlets will be set in a warm dish. Some minced shallots and garlic will be added to the pan and sautéed. The pan will be deglazed with a touch of white wine, a touch of chicken stock, some fresh lemon juice. The liquid will be reduced over high heat, seasoned to taste and a major league glob of butter will be added just before the cutlets are returned for a coating. Some chiffonade of basil added as the chicken is on the way to the table and it is ready.
We will need little else except for crusty bread with lots of butter.
And enthusiasm for our new cause, and our new club.
Our favorite place to be.