The moment I walked through the door, I knew I was in deep trouble.
I smelled beets boiling on the stove.
She knows I hate beets.
Some people say that beets were designed by Satan himself. Many consider them his best work. Rumor has it that he needed something extraordinarily repulsive for the cauldrons of hell – but I disagree.
It is the boiling of beets that was Beelzebub’s most diabolical creation. Boiling them destroys any semblance of texture and reduces an already repugnant food to a gelatinous mass with an aftertaste of burnt chalk.
There is nothing on earth I despise more than beets.
So why was she cooking them?
What had I done to deserve this?
What had I failed to do?
Boiling beets as punishment for wrongdoing may sound passive aggressive – but I assure you it is not.
Every good marriage is founded on sound communication and deep trust – but every loving relationship also rests upon a bedrock of annoyances.
It drives her crazy when I toss my sweaty ball cap onto the kitchen counter after walking the dog. On the other hand, I fly into a rage when I find the January utility bill under the couch in June because she had scattered mail about the house.
But the war over these things ended decades ago.
These are behaviors we will never give up. We each ceded enough ground and will defend the turf we stand on to the end.
So there is nothing left to do but tolerate each other.
But that only works for so long.
Over time, grievances pile up until the weight of forbearance overcomes the strength of tolerance. This is when forgiveness and forgetting fly out the window and the beets come out.
So to get back at her for getting back at me, I know just what to do.
She loves pork chops. It is her favorite thing to eat.
So the next day, I go to Nick’s meat market and select their best cuts. I sprinkle the chops with YaYa spice and simmer them slowly over the grill. After the meat turns a golden brown, I slice it into long thin strips. This I add to a sauce pan already sizzling over a low heat with carrots, asparagus and broccoli. As the vegetables soften and soak up the taste of pork, I carefully slice crisp red, green and yellow peppers into half moon shapes and layered them in the pan.
There is nothing in the world she hates more than peppers.
She despises them.
About as much as I hate beets.