When she leaves for long weekends with her quilting friends, I wait until the trail of dust behind her car settles on the road – then I head for the grocery store.
I buy green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers and when they have them, orange peppers and I put them in everything.
For breakfast, I will toss chopped onion into a sizzling pan of olive oil then slice in some summer sausage and color it all with peppers. Once I have that going, I add hash-browns and a couple of eggs. It’s the kind of meal that keeps you company all day.
Oh yeah, with breakfast hissing in the pan, I fill a crock-pot with chili fixings. The size of the pot will be dictated by how long my wife plans to be away. As for spicing, I only have one rule. It isn’t hot unless it makes your nose bleed.
Now that’s chili and it represents everything my wife hates about my cooking.
Cooking for two is all about compromise, as is marriage. It is about giving up the things we like for the things that We like. Only when the other spouse is away can we revert to the plain unitalicized, unbolded we.
She knows this and by the second day, I will get a call.
“You aren’t cooking peppers are you?”
“Why do you ask?”
“You are, aren’t you?”
“Not at the moment.”
“You better not be stinking up the house, Mister.”
She knows I do the things I like when she is away, and I suppose it bothers her that being away means I am having fun. It also bothers her that there are things I consider fun that I can’t do around her. It is a sort of betrayal, as if I am supposed to be the person I am with her and not hiding this inner self.
It would be okay if I ran around in my underwear and lived on beer and ice cream. She could handle that. What is harder to handle is me doing better when she is gone.
She expects me to do something completely irresponsible like walking the dog on a muddy road then letting him run around the house.
I feel I owe her that.
So this weekend, I plan to let the chili pot run over. It will puddle on the counter, streak down the drawers and pool on the floor. Maybe the cats will get into it and make a mess.
This is not to show her that I cannot cook. She knows I can. Nor does it show her that women are better at all things domestic than men — that is so last-century.
What it will show her is that I am helpless without her – which in so many countless ways, is true.