Toothbrushes and Tofu

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Toothbrushes and Tofu "Yay hyperchocolate hazelnut cake Yay apricot baklava Yay carrot cake and apple crisp Yay periwinkle dining room trim Yay co-ops" - Watermyn house journal, 1986 The co-op is on the corner of Waterman and Governor streets, hunkered there like an old man, into a dilapidated permanence. Two enormous cherry trees occupy the front yard; in the fall their golden leaves are left in peace to coat the lawn until they rot or blow away. A tangled cluster of bicycles clings to a metal sculpture that is perched like an insect under the largest tree. The front garden sprouts renegade tomato plants and Echinacea flowers, long taken over with weeds, and a tin sign hangs feebly from a piece of yellow pipe, its faded letters announcing, "Watermyn Co-op Garden." The newly built front porch smells of wet, cut wood and supports a ratty looking couch, a small mosaiced table, and half a dozen un-opened Wall Street Journals. The Watermyn kitchen never fails to be a stimulating experience. This Sunday night is no exception. Ian and Allison chop vegetables, and the counters swim in piles of mushrooms, carrots, spinach, bowls of crumbled tofu and pans spread with thick pizza dough. Liz Phair plays on the stereo, just loud enough to inhibit a normal decibel of conversation. Old crumpled newspapers litter the two couches beneath the stereo, and rows of red-capped spices, cereal boxes and other assorted dried goods line the racks above the counters. Clippings, sketches and posters plaster the refrigerator and walls. Broken kitchen appliances are stuck above the fridge with black electrical tape and someone has scrawled above them in black marker, "Kitchen appliance graveyard - where all good cooking tools come to die." Ian is tall, with a warm smile and a worn-in look, faded and comfortable like someone's favorite sneakers. He groans as he opens up rotting bags of spinach, "How long has this been in the fridge? I'm not going to use this. Do you think I should use this? No, no one will want to eat this." Allison doesn't offer any suggestions. She smiles unconcernedly and slides an assembled pizza into the oven, holding her long brown hair back with one hand. Dinner is served at 6:30 and in a few minutes co-opers will begin to wander into the kitchen and common rooms, lured by the smell of cooking dough and stir-fried garlic.

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