Today I made a splendid omlette. Let me tell you about this omlette. It was a onion, mushroom and tomato omlette served with a side of black pudding, which is not really a pudding but Scottish blood sausage.
This omlette was made from 3 medium free range eggs, one tablespoon of water, a big pinch of salt, a small pinch of pepper and the quarter onion, 2 mushrooms and quarter tomato I had chopped up and fried in butter beforehand.
Omlettes depend very much on the frying pan being the perfect temperature, and this time I got that right. I could tell because after a while my omlette slid easily around the pan, a sure sign of being evenly cooked. The omlette being almost done, I threw in the cooked veg, flipped the omlette in half, gave it a minute on one side, gave it another minute on the other side, and slid it onto a hot plate.
"Come and eat this perfect omlette while it is still hot," said I to our house guest.
"If it is perfect, maybe I should take a photo of it first," was the reply.
"No," I cried, terrified of any delay that might make my perfect omlette not so perfect anymore. "The omlette is to be eaten! It has a transitory perfection!"
And so the perfect omlette passed out of existence, exactly as it was meant to do.
The house guest had brought, among other hostess presents, a rose-scented soap shaped like a rose. It reminds me of a rose-shaped candle I know. The difference between the soap and the candle, beyond their ingredients, is that the owner of the candle does not want to burn it because it is pretty and I intend to use up my soap over the course of time. That is, after all, what the soap is for.
I'm very anthropocentric when you get down to it. I firmly believe with Saint Thomas Aquinas that there are things to be used (uti) and things to be enjoyed for themselves (fruti). Human beings are among those things to be enjoyed for themselves, which means never using them as a means to an end. But omlettes, soaps and, may I say it, candles should be used and not made out to be more than they are.
Being married to a museum curator, I understand the importance of preserving certain objects in art galleries and museums. For one thing, it is good that the lives, art and achievements of past generations be understood by present and future generations. A beautiful inlaid jewellery box made from scraps of metal and bone by an 18th century French prisoner-of-war in a dungeon beneath Edinburgh Castle serves as a salutary reminder that we're not all that and a bag of chips just because we belong to the computer age.
However I don't understand a need to preserve the transitory things when they are best consumed. Most of the time, a book should be read. A dress should be worn. Candles should be burned. Omlettes should be eaten. Beasts should be eaten--although I am very sympathetic to vegetarians and think it very good of them to abstain, as if for the rest of us in reparation for our many sins against animals. (I don't think swiftly killing and eating animals sinful, but I certainly think trapping them into simply wretched existences, or making them fight each other to the death, reprehensible.)
People, on the other hand, must not be used up like soap or candles. This may seem obvious, but not when we are talking about romance and sexuality. There are people, people either unsympathetic to or ignorant of orthodox Christianity, who think that virginity is a waste. Luther and Hitler were both distressed by the "waste" of German women as nuns; in their view German women should be wedded and bedded and bred from. And Catholic women are not so far from this point of view when we sigh over "Father What-a-Waste." People are not valuable for their sexuality but for their status as sons and daughters of God.
I think this is what Saint Augustine means when he says that married men must not treat their wives like prostitutes. I suppose some men do. I once knew a male university student who worked alongside a newly married man in a warehouse for a summer. The newly married man had not know his wife before they married; it was an arranged marriage. In arranged marriages it is expected that love will grow in time, and I certainly believe that that happens very often, but this might not have happened yet here, because this man told my male friend all about his sex life with his new wife. All about it. Can you imagine? The average Canadian guy expects locker room talk from a few guys about the kind of women men think it is okay to talk like that about, but not locker room talk about a guy's wife. This one was was a virgin when they married.
Anyway, I don't know what the deal was there, beyond utter immaturity and perhaps an attitude towards women rather foreign to the West, for all that we're considered so decadent. I mention it because it is such an example of using someone as a means to an end, first for the physical pleasure and second for the pleasure of bragging to someone at work.
Don't get me started on serial monogamy. You know: the "dating" arrangment where two people sleep together until one or the other or both are bored and want to move onto newer pastures for the high for being "in love".