Today it's a little different. I woke up to four 18 year old's in my basement that were so quiet I had no clue they were there. In her room, Casey was singing with her headphones on at a volume I couldn't hear. Bill has done well. After all these years, the kids respect when I sleep. A fan in the bedroom and a shot of Sambuca before bed doesn't hurt, either.
Today I woke up in the middle of the day for a wonderful reason. I woke up because my house smelled amazing. It smelled like spices and garlic and BACON and chicken stock. It wasn't a dream, and it wasn't a lame Folger's commercial. It meant Bill was cooking.
When we married, I don't recall a summit meeting about division of chores. I can't remember laying claim to certain responsibilities. I simply remember that by default, cooking fell to Bill. He was just plain better at it. Unlike me, Bill knew his spices, the difference between a sauté pan and a pot, and the proper knife to use. Bill would never make a spaghetti sauce containing not one but two bulbs of garlic in it. (Clove. Bulb. Apparently there is a difference. But he ate it like a trooper and together we learned that garlic has the ability to ooze from your pores and permeate pretty much everything around you for days and days). Call it a rookie mistake. Call it a dating tragedy. Call it one if Bill's favorite "Do you know what she did?" stories.
I clean the house, or at least 90% of it. When I paint rooms, Bill cuts in, which I hate doing. I enjoy the outdoors, so I mow the lawn by choice. I am fussy about how things look, and everyone suffers because of it. I maintain the pool, we both do laundry. There are no "boy jobs" and "girl jobs" around here. I have been cooking more often, thanks to my friend Laurie's blog and the magical tug of the of Food Network; where I can listen to southern accents all day and the Barefoot Contessa comforts me with her voice. I do OK. But the bottom line is Bill is the family cook.
Sometimes I get surly about the house being a mess, the laundry piling up, the grime on the kitchen floor. Then I hear one of my friends complaining about making dinner and I check myself. I believe the responsibility of putting a complete dinner on the table seven days a week would throw me into a massive panic attack. The planning, the timing, the pressure? No thanks, I will tackle the toilet bowl ring every, single, time.
When I am supposed to make dinner, I look in the fridge and I see...nothing. I shut the fridge. I ponder. I open it again. I look a little harder. I see...nothing. I proclaim to Bill: "There's nothing to eat in there".
Bill moves me aside. Bill opens the fridge. Bill rummages. Bill walks across the kitchen with an armload of the nothing I found and in 20 minutes, there is food. Hot, delicious, healthy food made out of nothing. It's a festivus miracle, and I cannot duplicate it, no matter how hard I try. He makes it look easy, chopping, dicing, flipping food around in the well oiled pan. He's like a running back, cutting this way and that, moving fluidly between the fridge, the stove, the table. It's like watching the ballet of sous chefs, if there was such a thing.
Conversely, my kitchen routine consists of the following:
- Look at recipe.
- Begin to assemble ingredients on counter.
- Walk back to computer to look at recipe.
- Get out pans that I am allowed to use (the shitty ones I ruined, not the ones Bill uses).
- Walk back to the computer, cursing my aging brain that can't hold a thought.
- Move mouth as I read to make words stick better.
- Start cooking.
- Drop shit.
- Stomp back to computer because I forgot. Again.
- Splatter stuff on my shirt.
- Turn computer toward kitchen. Realize I am blind.
- Look imploringly at my beloved.
- Step aside to let Bill salvage my mess.
- Apologize profusely for my incompetence.
The other day, I was watching The French Chef. Even though I am a sub par cook, I like to watch the masters, and Julia Child is my favorite. At one point, she looked directly into my eyes and spoke to me. I just know it was me she wanted to get through to, because what she said was this:
“The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit. ”
I whooped as I headed to the wine rack to make dinner.
Bon appétit, indeed.