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August 12th, 2010 - Abigail Thomas

Ten years ago I was obsessed. It was a little odd, and I can’t explain it, but all I wanted to do, and all I did, was make paintings of fried eggs, sunny side up. I made individual egg portraits, group egg portraits, painting of eggs snuggling together, families of eggs placed side by side, eggs dressed as ghosts for Halloween. I painted on glass with oil based house paint that came in quarts. Despite all the other colors, it was yellow that called to me. Dipping a stick into the thick oily paint, then holding it steady above the glass, I could produce a perfect circle, drop by drop. It was magic. When the yolk was firm, I added the white. I could never have done it on purpose--some things only come about by accident, but in one particular painting, two little eggs wound up with strings attached. Somehow I had produced two small fried eggs on pogo sticks. I was so proud. I felt a little like their mother. I’m still in love with them, ten years later. God, I had a good time. I love obsession.

These days I do a lot of nothing. I’m good at doing nothing, but when I’m done doing nothing, I don’t know what to do. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. There’s nowhere to go. I haven’t driven my car in months. I should pay my taxes, call the septic guy, write some letters, pay my bills, but I am paralyzed. Let’s see. Today. It’s five- fifteen in the morning. What do I do? I pull a few hairs out of my head and hold them up to the light to make sure I don’t have head lice. Sometimes the follicles look like nits, so I use a magnifying glass for closer examination. One of my younger grandsons has head lice, and my head is itching. Seven hairs, no lice. It’s almost disappointing so I pull out another bunch of hair. Still no lice. My interest wanes. Then I pick up a catalogue and look at mattress pads. For years I’ve longed for the fleece ones which they say are washable but I don’t believe it, and I don’t need a new mattress pad. Then I look at feather beds which I also don’t need, although they look inviting. I drop the catalogue back on the floor.

I keep reminding myself that a funk can be lifted by making something, anything, that’s outside myself, but these days all I make are deviled eggs. Three eggs are boiling on the stove, I am chopping red onion into little chunks, I take the eggs out of the pot, thrust them into cold water, gently, carefully peel them, slice them in half and remove the yolks into a bowl of mayo and chopped onion, mix it all together and spoon it back into the egg whites. I slide the delicious little things into my mouth one after another, after another, day after day. Ten years later, and I still can’t get enough.


Abigail Thomas has 12 grandchildren, one great grandchild, and two dogs. She lives in Woodstock NY and writes mostly memoir.


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