I hate to cook. I mean, really, really hate to cook. Given the choice between cooking for four people or washing dishes for 100, I will take the dishes, every time.
While my children were growing up, I had the following prominently hanging on the wall in my kitchen:
I read recipes the way most people read science fiction.
I get to end and I think,
‘Well, THAT’s not going to happen…’
When my kids were growing up, I had no choice but to properly feed them. I had a repertoire of perhaps 8-12 meals which I rotated as best I could. I could make fajitas, burritos, tacos (all from a store-bought kit, although the vegetables were all fresh), spaghetti, lasagne, chicken soup, home-made pizza (using store-bought crust, of course) and Shepperd’s pie. I made sure that I always had a lot of fresh fruit on hand, and I always had a bunch of raw vegetables cut up and served with a dip (store-bought, of course). Having shared custody certainly helped (especially the fact that their Step-Mom is a wonderful cook who greatly helped ease some of the monotony for them, I am sure…).
The weeks that the kids were with my ex and their Step-Mom, I gave up all pretense of being a proper grown-up. Making a meal with all the requisite food groups might be a requirement when the kids were in the house, but when it was just me, I relaxed the rules. A lot. Loving movie popcorn as I do, I often justified a supper of microwave popcorn as ‘acceptable’ since technically ‘popcorn is a vegetable’. I also became a big fan of the aisle at the grocery store with ‘home-made’ previously-prepared meals. For between 4 to 6 dollars each (depending on the culinary complexity of the meal), I could purchase enough of those little feasts to eat for lunch and supper every day that the kids were not at my house. That I always found myself the sole female among a horde of young – and not so young – bachelors in front of that big display case, embarrassed me not at all. Nor did it give me any dating ideas. Number one, I really wasn’t looking for a mate at the time, and two, clearly, we were not exactly a match made in heaven. I do not recall even one of those hungry bachelors giving me so much as a second glance either. I managed thus for ten years, and had come to a point where my grocery bill was a little on the high side, but the person I was feeding adequately satisfied with the outcome.
And then along came P_. We knew one another: we had worked in the field of education, for the same organisation, for twenty years. He had become a widower the year before and I, well, everyone knew that I was a single Mom who was not really looking for any kind of relationship. We didn’t know one another all that well, really: I found him a little overwhelming: he has a big, booming voice and physique which match an equally substantial persona. At the time, he worked with the kids in our schools who had drug and alcohol issues, or had been drawn into local prostitution rings, or were battling suicide and depression. Not exactly the ‘easy’ cases… The kids all liked him: he easily won their respect. But he has always been the type of person you either like or you do not. His personality can pretty much fill up a room.
To say I was surprised when he approached me at lunch one day (I was eating one of my store-bought delights at my desk) to invite me to a supper with friends, at his house, is an understatement. He was so uncharacteristically shy that I immediately called my sister that night to tell her. “I think it’s a date…” I reported in a faltering voice. “Holy s_ _ t!” was her reply, knowing her hermit-like sister as she does. In 10 years, I had gone on a grand total of two dates and both had ended early with a pleasant, cordial handshake.
I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at his place perhaps an hour before the other guests arrived. His big dog Fernand, oblivious of the fact that I was terrified of dogs, bounded over and adopted me as his charge – to be protected until death us do part – from the second he laid eyes on me. And then there was P_ himself: quite by accident, another woman drove in perhaps a minute before I did. It took me a few minutes to figure out that she was not a dinner guest but instead, an impromptu visitor he had never laid eyes on, who had lived in his home 30 years before and wanted to know if she could explore the house. She was an author, writing a book, she explained, and had some unresolved issues that included visiting this house and exorcising a few of her demons.
“Sure!” answered P_ kindly, as he invited her to wander unassisted throughout the upstairs (where she said her old bedroom used to be) and to ‘stay up there as long as she liked.” She left us, weeping as she went, and from the quiet vantage point behind my wary eyes, P_ went up about 10 points, on the spot. It was like I was meeting an entirely different person from the dominant, ultra-confident personality I knew at work. I had never expected such warm generosity; such gentle compassion.
In short order, he had another surprise for me. “I hope you like home-made clam chowder”, he queried, as he casually strolled over to the kitchen to check on the fragrant meal that was gently bubbling on the stove. “Just stay over behind that partition though, if you would. I’m a bit funny about my food preparation. I hope it’s okay, but I never let anyone in my kitchen.”
For a second or two, my heart literally stopped beating. I had never known a man who enjoyed cooking, let alone a man who took it as his God-given right to be the sole culinary master of his kitchen. It was as if choirs of angels had suddenly begun singing a symphony. He shot up 100 points, right on the spot.
I had no other choice but to marry him: that he would only come to the same conclusion a few months after I did, mattered not at all.
He had me at ‘Get out of my kitchen.”
Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com