Monday, March 19, 2007

Weeds and Roses

My wife is a little quirky. She insists ice is a rock, asserting the evidence supporting her opinion lies in the bartender’s term, “on the rocks.” This best explains why I do all the cooking in our home; it’s for our own good. And in case you doubt, I cook quite well. I chop, sauté, assemble and plate ingredients with such finesse our neighbors believe I was once a professional chef. In contrast, my wife reaches into the pantry or freezer, unwraps, nukes and serves prepackaged meals. I affectionately refer to her cooking as “heating.”

Jill protests my teasing and tells me she is famous for one recipe, something she calls Matchstick Carrots. I’ve never tasted this dish in our nearly three years together. Maybe it’s because we don’t own a matchstick carrot pan, or perhaps she needs those special hard to find kind of carrots. Whatever the reason, I think I’m better off not knowing what I’m missing, so I have never encouraged her to relieve me from my cooking duties.

Jill, on the other hand, relieved of her need to heat those gourmet meals, used her spare time to go back to school in pursuit of a new career. Wanting to be a school teacher, she immersed herself in her studies, leaving me to cook, much to the relief of all who sit around our dining table. Today, her heating skills have been replaced with her teaching skills, and in particular, the thorough manner with which she gives me my daily assignments.

Before leaving for work recently she gave me a list of office supplies she wanted me to purchase. She reviewed the list with me, pointing to each sentence making sure I knew which she was reading. She held up her fingers to make sure I knew how many of each item she wanted, she described its shape and color, and she gave me permission to call her if I had any questions. I think she’s forgotten I have a doctorate degree.

Although I thought I was adequately suppressing my smirk, I suppose I wasn’t because she told me if I didn’t wipe it off my face I’d have to stay after school and do extra homework. “Yes, ma’am,” I respectfully replied and then hurried her to her car before she could threaten me with suspension.

In spite of my best efforts to avoid trouble, I sometimes run into it headfirst. I think I have a dormant gene that kicked in after I got married. I’m supposed to feed Princesses, Jill’s beloved dog, at five o’clock each day. Once my wife arrived home and asked if I had. “Why, yes,” I said even though I had forgotten. I lied only because I feared my parents would be called in for a teacher’s conference if I confessed to my misdeed.

Well, Mrs. Crabtree decided to check for herself. Apparently she had marked the dog food and saw there was no less than the day before. Like I said, she loves that dog.

I poke fun at my wife because it makes her laugh, and making her laugh is one of the measures I take to assure our marital bliss. There are other measures; we spend time together walking in the neighborhood or hiking in the mountains, visiting with neighbors on the front porch, talking softly before going to sleep, and doing things or going places with our children. As you might have noticed, however, nowhere on my list of activities did I mention doing anything with Princess or searching for a matchstick carrot pan. We’re talking about bliss here, after all.

Speaking of bliss, a few nights ago several friends joined us for dinner and a conversation soon started about keeping the romance alive after the honeymoon is long over. “I think you have to pay daily attention to your relationship and take care of it if you want it to last,” I opined.

“Yes, it’s like a seasonal garden, you must tend to it,” one guest added.

“You’ve got to weed that sucker, too,” Jill muttered.

“I think I’ll save a bite for Princess,” I said as I squirmed and wondered if I was a weed or a rose. I shoved a few choice bites of prime rib aside on my plate.

“I knew you loved her!” Jill exclaimed.

I didn’t disagree with her. If there is one thing I’ve learned living with a teacher, it’s to never talk back.

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