While The Man and I were at Mayo The Kid stayed with some of our neighbors. The very first phone call with her went like this:
The Kid, incredulous-“MOM! You will *not* believe what happened at dinner tonight!”
Me, anticipating quite the story as I thought about Cr and Ca with their big personalities and fun loving ways…they guarantee to entertain- “Yeah? Was it crazy?”
The Kid, a bit too loud- “YES! You’ll never guess what happened! When we started to eat Ca said “Cr, these peas are overcooked.”‘
Me, a bit nonplussed- “Whoa. …That’s….unexpected…”
Inside I’m thinking…You can overcook…peas…? Overcooked peas are a thing? I wonder if I’ve ever had an overcooked pea? How would I even know? I really need to start cooking again.
The Kid, still slightly volume-ous “I KNOW! I totally thought she was joking and I started to laugh! I mean…they just tasted like peas! They were really good peas, mom! REALLY GOOD! I don’t know how Ca tasted that!”
Pause for breath.
“BUT THEN, THEN..”
Me, trepidatious about stepping further into these crazed waters- “Yeah?”
The Kid, whispering now because she doesn’t want to be overheard saying such ludicrous things- “Cr looked down and said, kinda embarrassed, “I know hon. I’m sorry.”
All decorum “leaves the building” as they say, and unrestrained bewilderment moves in.
“CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!? HE APOLOGIZED FOR OVERCOOKED PEAS!!! BUT THE PEAS WERE GREAT! THEY WERE LIKE… THE BEST PEAS OF MY LIFE, MOM!!”
Me, feeling a “little” out of my league and glad The Kid was having an opportunity to try out different cultures and broaden her…pea… horizons- “You’ll have to have Cr teach you how to make peas so we can see what we’ve been missing. I bet there’s a whole new pea…world…out there that we’ve never previously experienced. …It’s good you didn’t say anything about the peas being sub-par…because you’re a guest, and it’s always embarrassing to mess up a meal when you’re serving it to a guest.”
That’s what I said, but inside I was thinking…I can’t believe I’m having a conversation about embarrassing peas. I don’t know if I should be happy, or sad that my peas would never be the “shame item” at a table when I had guests over….?
The Kid, still riding that pea high- “I told them I thought the peas were great! But I don’t think they believed me. I mean….PEAS, mom!”
Me, mystified at their audacity- “Yeah.”
The Kid, in a breathy sigh of satisfaction- “Yeah!”
I think about this incident because yesterday was one of those inexplicably **great** heart days. I did stuff. Life stuff.
Sure, I had chest pain and shortness of breath with a side of lung fluid, but I did dishes, started laundry, bills, dressed myself…nothing fancy like blow drying hair or curling eyelashes…but you take what you can get.
And last night?
I made dinner.
All by myself.
I even set the table, LIKE THE BOSS OF DINNER WOULD!!
This hasn’t happened in…let’s just label the period of time… “a while.”
On the menu? Asparagus, brown rice, and chicken breasts.
Calling The Man and Kid to the table I pointed to the chicken and whispered low to The Man, “I’m pretty sure I overcooked the chicken.”
Pause to consider the very dry chicken staring back at me…and how lying gets you into hell.
“No. I meant to say ‘Tonight’s dinner was brought to you by dry chicken…which may or may not actually be some sort of jerky….product.'”
The Man, standing behind me and looking at the cracked chicken breasts of depleted moisture and flavorlessness…”OH BOY! That’s my FAVORITE kind of chicken!!”
He rubs his hands together and claps.
I give him that sideways look that means skeptical things including but not solely restrained to… ARE YOU SERIOUSLY KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW!?!?… but all I see in his face is genuine enthusiasm for a meal. THIS meal!
His face is like a puppy getting a new toy.
That raw vivacity is for me and the dinner I prepared.
Even though it is very….very….dead….and our jaws may not be strong enough to chew it.
Feeling grateful I married a guy whose taste buds are eagerly flavored with the joy of family dinnertime, all I could say to him was- “I love you so much.”
We sit down to eat.
The chicken is indeed as dry as unflavored dehydrated sandpaper…but not nearly as palatable.
Broiled chicken? Lesson. Learned!
The asparagus is gooey, and instead of being happy with just tasting limp and lifeless, it’s crippled with a slime that makes it an act of determined perseverance to swallow.
Even though the asparagus was “overcooked”, I’ll admit to a certain pride it didn’t catch fire like it did the last time I broiled it.
Me: Almost 1. At the very least, I get an “A” for fire avoidance.
This meal I’ve made is topped off with rice so crunchy, I’m afraid I’ll break a tooth on it…or it’ll puncture something on its way to digestive glory.
The Man and Kid split the last piece of Sahara’s finest.
(I only ate half of the smallest piece.)
The Man and Kid BOTH tell me how much they enjoyed dinner.
This never happens.
They aren’t even teasing.
They mean it.
Knowing their thanks is bona fide…I can’t help but feel a deep sorrow for them.
But… you know? Undercooked rice DOES add an unexpected texture to a meal.
Especially when paired with a smooshy vegetable and a tough as nails main dish.
I’m just thankful I didn’t overcook some peas.
THAT is a disgrace I’m not sure I could come back from! ‘-)
After such a meal, this plagiarized, and slightly reworded, quote from Rutherford Birchard Hayes is particularly timely:
“A better family I never hoped to have…. They bear with my “innocent peculiarities” so kindly, so lovingly…. Let me strive to be as true to them as they are to me. Let me too be loving, kind, and thoughtful. Especially let me not permit the passion I have to see constant improvement in those I love, to be so blind in its eagerness as to wound a nature so tenderly sensitive as I know I sometimes have done.
This is indeed life.
The love of family!
Can anything enjoyed on earth be a source of truer, purer happiness—happiness more unalloyed than this? Blessings on his head who first invented family!”