Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

I used to be the life of the party. 

I was hilarious

People gravitated toward me and by the end of the night—heck, not even the end of the night; five minutes into the party, actually—I’d be unaware that I was holding court, a crowd of people gathered around me laughing so hard they were crying.  There would always be some fraternity-looking guy at the edge shaking his head as if he couldn’t quite believe his eyes: he’d never seen anything like me before.  “For a gangly, plain-looking girl,” he would muse, studying me with wonder after the crowd had dispersed, “you’re actually really cool.”

“Thanks,” I’d reply, shrugging my shoulders and turning away because I liked to do that to fraternity-looking guys.  I figured they needed a dose of a gangly, plain-looking girl dismissing them at a party every once in a while.

People still come up to me, twenty or more years after any such party, and a reminiscent spark will light up in their eyes as soon as they see me.  We’ll be in the pasta aisle at the grocery store and they’ll start laughing: “Oh my gosh, do you remember that time that you…”

Often they’ll stop and look at my boys, and I’ll watch as they mentally calculate their ages in their heads.  Are her kids old enough to hear this story?

Oh, I was so fun.                                       

I also used to drink a lot.

I’ve calmed down quite a bit. Got sick of the hangover headaches on Saturday and Sunday mornings, started preferring early-morning kickboxing classes to “sleeping it off”…you know, all that stuff that comes with blossoming into a mature, responsible adult. 

And while I kind of miss the person I was in those stories, well, I comfort myself with the fact that I got to be that person for like twenty years, which some might consider just a teensy bit too long.

I spent years writing funny stories from my past in blogs that I had to take down when they got a bit popular. I’m a very respected (let me have this; I don’t have much in my old age) middle school teacher, you see, and an upstanding member of society, so some things, I learned (was told) were better left unshared in such a public manner.

Oh, but those times were so much fun to write about.  Often I would call out to my husband, “Oh my gosh, I am SO FUNNY!  I almost forgot how funny I was!” as I sat behind my old-school laptop, fingers flying over the keyboard, hoping it wouldn’t die before I got the rest of the story out and hit PUBLISH.  I never looked up from my very important writing to watch my husband roll his eyes.

Don’t worry.  I have all of those stories saved, and I have a plan for when I can re-post them all.  My plan involves buying a double-wide trailer followed by a weekly six-pack of Natural Light and a Powerball ticket because the people who do that are always the ones who end up winning the millions.  And when I become one of those people, I can quit my dead-end teaching job and post whatever the heck I want.  SOON, my friends.  SOON!!

Until then, this is a post about a time when I acted as a responsible adult and ended up regretting it.

My husband and I were invited to a get-together last summer.  It was just a fun day of hanging out by the pool and grilling, thrown by the parents of a couple of my boys’ classmates.  I was drinking Diet Coke.  I wasn’t necessarily “holding court,” but I wasn’t doing so badly.  People were talking to me and, I think, enjoying my witty repertoire. I know I was enjoying my witty repertoire.

Here’s the thing, though. I’ve found that sometimes I take “responsible adult” too far. I end up questioning everything I do and say, and it takes some of the sparkle out of my personality.  It sucks, but all of life is a learning experience, right?

My husband and I were sitting at the kitchen breakfast bar, and there was an almost-empty pan of bacon-wrapped asparagus right in front of us.  I had been eyeing it for a good ten minutes.  My husband noticed, and a hushed conversation ensued.

“You’re slobbering all over that pan of asparagus,” he said to me.  “Why don’t you just eat a piece?”

I continued to face forward but slid my eyes toward him.  “There’s only one piece left,” I whispered out of the side of my mouth.  “Can I eat the last piece?  Is it rude?”

My husband married me smack dab in the middle of my party girl days, the days when I was too occupied drinking cheap beer to care what anyone thought, so this type of question coming from me in a social situation will always feel kind of new to him.  He didn’t have the answer. In fact, he began to question himself.  He furrowed his brow, thinking.  “I don’t know,” he said. “Is it rude?”

Fifteen years ago—heck, six years ago—I’d have grabbed the whole pan as soon as it came out of the oven and tipped it over sideways, guzzling every bacon-wrapped asparagus bundle as it toppled into my face and then tossing the dirty pan into the sink and wiping the bacon grease off of my lips with the back of my arm.  People would have come up to me in grocery stores for years after that:  “Remember what you did to that pan of bacon?  MAN, that was WILD.”

But not that day.  That day I was a polite, respectable member of society.

I placed my hand over my mouth so the other party-goers couldn’t read my lips.  “Do you think anyone would notice if I took the last piece?”

My husband mirrored my action, putting his own hand over his mouth.  “I don’t know…maybe wait 30 seconds and if nobody has taken it by then, reach your hand out really slowly so as not to invite attention and then eat it?”

We waited breathlessly for a few moments, and my mouth started watering.  Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, and there are two surefire ways to make something already delicious even more delicious:  fry it or wrap it in bacon.

I could almost taste the greasy bundle passing my lips.  It was going to be so good. (I’ve always loved grease and oil.  When I was young, I had twin best friends who would press napkins to their slices of pizza to sop up all the grease before eating them.  I swear I used to try to intercept the napkins as they sailed into the trash can so I could suck the grease out of them. Were they crazy?  Who didn’t love a greasy piece of pizza?? 

In a similar fashion, my husband and boys cut the fat off of their steaks and save it on a plate for me.  Are they crazy?  Who doesn’t love a hot, greasy, translucent piece of steak fat??)

After about 25 seconds, I reached a shaky hand out toward the pan.  My husband watched, his eyes wide in anticipation. 

Suddenly, the host of the party, taking a break from grilling, breezed into the room.  He walked directly to the pan of bacon-wrapped asparagus, grabbed the last one, and popped the whole thing into his mouth, all the while looking right at me.

“Dang,” he said, wiping his hands on a paper towel, “those are GOOD.”  With that, he turned and walked back out of the kitchen.

I wanted to chastise him for wiping his hands.  Didn’t he know you’re supposed to LICK that yummy grease off instead of wasting it on a paper towel?  SOME PEOPLE just don’t know how to enjoy good food.

Instead, my husband and I sat there frozen for a few seconds, not quite able to comprehend what had just transpired.  Then, suddenly, we caught each other’s eyes and burst into laughter. 

We laughed so hard that our shoulders shook and we gasped for breath. Nobody knew what we were laughing at, which made me wonder: Are inside jokes acceptable at parties where you’re not drinking too much to care?

Ah, well.

One good thing came out of this experience.  No, scratch that.  Two good things came out of the experience:

1.) I learned to quit taking myself so seriously.  Of course, that only lasted like 5 minutes and then I was back to questioning myself again.  But it was a nice 5 minutes.

2.) I started making bacon-wrapped asparagus, and nobody likes it as much as I do at my house, so I normally get to snarf the entire pan myself.  I just leave it cooling on the stove all day and toss one into my mouth every time I walk by.  If you’re wanting to make them, just wrap the asparagus in bacon and put the bundles into the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Play with the time a little bit; I like my bacon mushy but maybe you’ll want to keep yours in a bit longer to get it crispier.


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