B cursed me. He drew out my curiosity, he cultured it and cultivated it and left me with an incurable infection. My little collection of paleontology books had not escaped his notice. On a lazy afternoon, while I was lying on the futon at his apartment passively observing the world outside the window, he very quietly handed me a box of bones. “Could you sort these?” He removed one particularly flat, wide bone from the box. “I haven’t figured out what kind of animal this came from yet?” We spent all afternoon examining and arranging, all evening theorizing over dinner. B. was an excellent conversationalist.
I have to admit, I am a conversation whore. I went out with a friend last night for a preemptive birthday drink and gave me a wonderful gift – we chatted for hours. He talked a bit about places in Europe I have not yet been, mentioned some bio-chemistry. It was intoxicating. He is a sweet guy, sharp witted with slightly crooked teeth and soft fingers. Just my type. But yours truly decided a while back the best thing to do was to convince him to get back together with his ex girlfriend. Damn. Apparently, I’m not as smart as I would like to think.
My friend M blows through town every once in a while with some organic chocolate and insights on industrial design. My tenant has a razor sharp philosophical knife with which he dissects concepts like corpses as we stand in the kitchen. JJ used to like me to “talk sexy” to him in the heat of the moment, about ancient Maya civilizations or “something smart”.
Why do some people like conversation so much? Is it simply out of boredom? Is there really a need to know all this shit? I think that in the sharing of these unseen piece of ourselves we create an intimacy that bridges the gap between material and immaterial. Perhaps this is like soul copulation where we share our private mental parts and conceive new people from our old selves.
Conversation has created our world. There was a recent discovery in South Africa of evidence of ancient use of fire over a million years ago. This pushes back the currently accepted time humans began to use fire by 300,000 years, to the time of Homo Erectus.
“The control of fire would have been a major turning point in human evolution,” said Chazan. “The impact of cooking food is well documented, but the impact of control over fire would have touched all elements of human society. Socialising around a campfire might actually be an essential aspect of what makes us human.” from Wired.co.uk.
We love to pretend that we, Homo Sapien Sapien, invented all this shit – language, math, fire, religion, cooking. But I’m pretty sure that we are not as smart as we like to think. Those chatty Homo Erectus were probably talking philosophy and eating something like this:
Traditional Pacific Northwest Salmon
1 cup rock salt
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
frame (see instructions below)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
From Tillicum Village: typically, a straight, strong branch of cedar or ironwood is split at one end, then the boned salmon is fitted into the split. To hold the fish flat so it will cook evenly, additional sticks are woven over and under the salmon. The fish was leaned toward a fire and slow roasted. The flavor of salmon baked around alder wood fires is unlike anything you have ever tasted. Taking approximately one hour to bake slowly to perfection, the salmon cooked this way retain their moisture and take on a wonderful mild flavor unique to this style of cooking.