Picking Kathy up before the Prom (vintage super-8 film)
Full Stomach, Fuller Heart
(an occasional series)
How could I forget my first love? Every now and then, when I was a teenager, Dad would drive us all the way to Hollywood for dinner. And that usually meant the Small World Importium, a wondrous imports shop and restaurant featuring international foods. And it was there that I met my first love:
It’s not surprising that I would fall instantly in love with a dish made from sirloin steak and two of my favorite foods: noodles and sour cream. I’d loved noodles pretty much since the day I went off formula, but only as a teenager discovered sour cream (I still eat it weekly). In this case, an ultra-rich Russian version called smetana—which is also the last name of the great composer Bedřich Smetana (why his last name was “Sourcream” remains a mystery).
But I associate another love with stroganoff, the love of one of my dearest friends. I’d grown up around the corner from a smart, clever girl named Kathy. By the time we reached high school, we were inseparable, eating lunches together, using silly words only we thought were funny. She was the most supportive friend a guy could ever have, among other things forming my band’s first (and only) fan club.
She was also a brilliant cook. So, when she asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said without hesitation, “Beef stroganoff!” So she fixed me beef stroganoff. But not just any beef stroganoff–the greatest beef stroganoff the world has ever known! After that, I was even more in love with smetana. And with my amazing friend Kathy.
After my high school love and I broke up, Kathy surprised me by asking me to the prom. It turned out to be our only date (the romantic spark wasn’t quite there), but we had a heckuva time. We dressed pseudo-Victorian (see video), cut the rug, and cut up all night. It was a lovely finale to our high school years together.
Decades later, while I was shooting my first feature film Healing River, Kathy called me out of the blue. She was driving through Cincinnati. So she dropped by to watch us shoot, and to spend a few precious minutes with the boy who’ll forever love stroganoff–