David Edelstein

David Edelstein

A weeklong electronic journal.
May 17 1997 3:30 AM

David Edelstein

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       Rachel takes a giant wedge of my wedding cake into the publishing house where she is an editor. It goes over big, except with people who don't understand the inherent plasticity of fondant. She tells her awestruck co-workers that I cook gourmet meals for her, and also that I write the occasional amusing play and article. She doesn't add that, consequently, it is she who pays the rent. Still, I am not an unqualified freeloader. Every month I am presented with a piece of paper labeled "An Invoice for My Husband," covering phone calls, HBO, and sundry other items. I make it clear that this arrangement is only until my ship comes in, whereupon I will leave her for a model.
       For breakfast today I have a slice of the wedding cake (which is, alas, beginning to sag) and wash it down with a can of Tab. In the three days since I first went public with my habit, a great burden has been lifted from my soul. No more furtive morning sips! Once, I lived with a woman who forbade me to drink it in her presence. Upon rising, I would read the paper with a can discreetly wedged between sofa cushions, sneaking gulps whenever she went to the bathroom. One day she walked in on me and, thinking quickly, I thrust the can into her boot. She promptly made a beeline for it, inserted her foot, and let out a cry. Thereafter, she would troll the living room for Tab cans. Reader, I never felt safe with her again.
       After breakfast I phone New York film critic David Denby, and we debate the merits of Breakdown. I think it's well-made trash and he thinks it's extremely well-made trash. I'm willing to concede that it's very well-made trash, although it doesn't make much sense. He's willing to concede that it doesn't make sense, although it's extremely well made. And Siskel and Ebert make this look so easy! I hang up the phone, depressed. Nowadays, mainstream movie criticism has come down to distinguishing smart formula crap from dumb formula crap.
       The day is bursting with activity. I travel to Park Slope, Brooklyn, to view an apartment, and the realtor frowns when I laugh out loud at the bedrooms, which have been crudely subdivided and are now the size of something you'd want to be buried in. Well, she says, what do I expect for a quarter of a million dollars?
       Still catching up with movies that opened while I was on honeymoon, I go to Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, which is as shapeless as its heroines are shapely but which does have bits of gonzo inspiration, especially a climactic, impromptu ballet that sends the audience home on a happy cloud. These girls are cuuuute, and Lisa Kudrow is the Maria Callas of Valley Girl ether-speak. In its shallow way, the picture does get at the ugly underpinnings of life--or, at least, of the lives of those of us who've never been able to forgive our high-school classmates for not having discerned our greatness under the freakish trappings. I, for one, will never go to a high-school reunion, except with a can of gasoline and a box of matches.
       Now I'm nervous. In less than a week I have to bake a wedding cake for 75 people in Toronto, and I have never piped icing in my life. I buy a pastry bag and some round tubes. I make an icing out of egg whites and powdered sugar. I pipe some on the cake. It looks like sea scum. At a certain point, you've just got to have faith it will all turn out right. And, with any luck, Canadian Customs will find nothing suspicious about eight boxes of cake flour and 10 of powdered sugar.