Violet Dollop now has two passions in her life: writing and Indian food.  Oddly, the one, Indian food, seemed like an extension or continuation of the other, the writing.  Indian food seemed to Violet to be so directly about life’s processes—the challenge of heat, the silky consolations of cool pudding-smoothness, the unprepared for eventfulness of sudden big encounters with spices: cardamom seeds, as black and present as insects.  Indian food, thought Violet, is terrain.  Indian food is a silent movie.  She loved it with an accelerating fervor so intense she knew that, despite her non-Indian-ness, she would someday have to write an Indian cookbook.  Or at least a book about the proliferating excitements generated by the Indian Food milieu: Indian Food—The Long Metaphor.
     It had been her husband Tom who had first encouraged her forays into Indian food—and who had then, curiously, begun to retreat from them.  For Tom, eating at their favourite Indian restaurant was just a night out.  A brief holiday from cooking at home.  For Violet it was the very stuff of literature and life.
     That’s what cars had become to her as well.  Violet had begun writing casually about automobile design—about taillights in particular (she loved the desperate changes wrought by car designers in the essentially banal object that a taillight is: infinite variation visited upon a fixed function in a fixed location).  Now her car-scribbling had taken her into the study of automotive history, into the larger-than-life personalities that were the fixed and galvanizing points of that history (Louis Chevrolet, Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, Louis Renault, Ransom E. Olds—as in “Oldsmobile”—Henry Ford, Andre Citroen, Ettore Bugatti, Virgil Exner, Harley Earl…), into the arcanities of styling and marketing, into the symbolism of the car, its archaeology, its joys and poisons and runaway cultural implications, its weather-vane-litmus-paper delineations of cultural health and weakness.  It seemed to Violet like a lifetime of work.  It seemed to the increasingly disaffiliated Tom—who wanted his wife back—like a gathering threat.
     “You must have been keen on cars when you were a kid, weren’t you?” Violet asked Tom one night over a vegetable biryani she had made herself.
     “When I was about twelve,” Tom told her, “but I got over it.”
     “But I’d never noticed cars before,” Violet replied.  “They were invisible.”
     “Until that taillight study of yours.”
     “Yes, and then I extrapolated myself from the taillight to the whole car, its history and culture.” 
     “And now you’re in love with Harley Earl and Virgil Exner.”
    “Beautiful names, aren’t they?” sighed Violet. “Why do car designers always have such beautiful names?”
     “They all don’t.  Look at Henry J. Kaiser.  Imagine naming a car the Henry J!”
     “Henry J. Kaiser was an industrialist, not a car designer.  He founded Kaiser Aluminum.  Cars were a sideline.”
     “A sideline that failed,” said Tom.
     “Still,” said Violet wistfully, “I wish we owned a 1954 Kaiser Manhattan.”
     “What colour?”
     “Turquoise Green. The only Kaiser colour that mattered.”
     “Wow, I didn’t realize you were so deep into your fantasies,” said Tom.  “A 1954 Kaiser Manhattan.  What specificity!”
     “In turquoise or Green,” Violet added.

     Michael and May were sharing a table at the New Sky with poet Rory Pendrift and his shiny new Muse, Bongo Bearance.
     “We like it here,” Michael told them, as Rory and Bongo looked around and settled in.  “This was the first place I ever took May for dinner.”
     “Coals to Newcastle,” laughed Rory who immediately after winced theatrically from the pain of Bongo’s having kicked him smartly under the table.
     Mat smiled.  “I know. Michael thought that too.  He also assumed that I’d be slighted or something by being invited to dine at a Chinese restaurant.”
     “Because, see, I ate here all the time before I knew May,” said Michael, “and I just thought of it as a cozy place with good food!  I never gave any thought at all to its Chinese-ness.”
     “Same as when you met me,” giggled May.  “I don’t think my being Chinese was the first thing you thought about.”
     “I can assure you it was not,” said Michael, squeezing her hand.  “But it did occur to me when you spoke to our waiter in Chinese!”
     “Can you order our food tonight in Chinese?” Rory asked her.
     “You can be a real dork,” said Bongo.  “How can you ever hope to become a real poet if you’re always acting like a dork?”
     Rory looked chastened.
     Listen, Rory,” May told him, “if it’ll make you feel happy and…uh…sophisticated, I’ll speak nothing but Chinese for the rest of the evening!”
     “Do it!” said Michael, delighted at Rory’s discomfiture.
     And May did that.  And it was a very international evening indeed.