How I responded when I found an unlikely cook in the kitchen.
Something had gone horribly wrong with my wife. I was afraid it was something serious. I had so many things running through my head: Is this a mid-life crisis? Is she seeing someone else? Did she sustain a large blow to the head? I didn’t know what it was, but something was amiss.
It started roughly a month ago. There were small signs of unusual behavior around our home. When you have been married for 18 years, anything out of the norm can be sniffed out instantly. First, I started to see random printed pieces of paper around the house. On these pieces were recipes for meals, something never seen before in our home. Soon after, I saw things like fresh garlic, thyme and olive oil. Was I at the wrong house? Maybe it was me that took a blow to the noggin. Perhaps aliens had invaded our home. During the course of the last 30 days, I would say my wife made a home-cooked meal a solid five days a week. I intentionally brought in a crucifix and sprinkled some holy water on her to see what might happen.
Some things you should know about my wife: She has never cooked, never claimed to or wanted to. We cut a deal when we started dating, swearing, “I’ll never ask you to cook if you never ask me to dance.” These are the kinds of things you don’t throw in your spouse’s face 20 years later when asking for a divorce. You knew the deal going in and never expected it to change. It’s just how it is. In fact, most of our cookware is still in the boxes from a wedding gift 18 years ago.
We like to eat together. We just usually eat out, I get food to bring home or I’ll fire up the grill from time to time, but any cooking was definitely coming from me.
I had to get to the bottom of this. I sent a text to my wife asking her if we could have a serious discussion when she got home. I pulled out a recorder to capture the conversation, in case it might be needed in a court of law. When she and my daughter arrived, I asked my daughter if her mother and I could be alone for a minute.
Me: Do you have any idea what we are going to talk about?
Erin: No. I’m very curious.
Me: I want your honest thoughts on what’s been happening around here in the last month.
Erin: In regards to…?
Me: You look scared.
Erin: I do? What’s been going on this past month?
Me: What do you think it is?
Erin: Are you talking about my cooking?
Me: Prior to this month, you had to Google “How to hard-boil eggs” several times a year.
Erin: True. Me: You’ve been making dinner for the family pretty much nightly for the last month. What’s going on?
Erin: I don’t know that I have a solid answer. I think it’s a combination of things. I was wondering how much money we spent eating out all the time or ordering in, so I was trying to be a little smarter, although I’ve found even making food at home is expensive. I was trying to have us all eat better, especially when we are all going in different directions. With cooking dinner, it’s forced us all to be here at a certain time and it’s been nice. I’ve enjoyed sitting down and talking about everyone’s day. I think [our 14-year-old daughter]even enjoyed it, although she wouldn’t admit that.
Me: Did this shiny, new kitchen we remodeled have anything to do with it?
Erin: [Laughs] It’s funny. We’re in a tiny house now and the smallest kitchen we have ever had. You wouldn’t think that would inspire me, but I love this little house and I love being at home. I don’t think bigger is better. I like the charm of the small house. It feels good. Me: What else has been going through your head?
Erin: What, about you? Did you think I was dying or something? I had a month left to live and I was trying to make up for lost time? [Laughs] What were you thinking? Do you like it?
Me: Yes, loving it. You walked in the house today and smelled the slow-cooking pot roast and said it reminded you of being a kid. I absolutely thought the same thing when I walked in today. This is what a house is supposed to smell like, not Chick-fil-A. Maybe we should walk into the other room and ask our daughter how she feels about your newfound passion? [Heading to her room and knocking lightly on the door.]
Raleigh: Yeah? Don’t come in. [Talking through the door, mostly muffled through the sounds of blaring hip-hop.]
Me: Can I ask you something? Raleigh? [Ignored.]
Erin: Dad wants to ask you something.
Me: I just want to know what you think of Mom’s cooking lately.
Raleigh: It’s cool.
Me: Anything else?
Raleigh: Thank you.
Me: We weren’t fishing for that.
Raleigh: What do you want then?
Erin: Nothing. We love you. Bye.
Me: Well, your efforts have not been lost on me. It makes you that much more adorable and attractive to me, probably the same way you feel when I’m fixing plumbing.
I know what some of you are thinking: Now, do I feel obligated to dance? The answer is not no, but hell no. Also, thank you, Uncle Dave, for the Crock-Pot you sent in June 1998. We have been enjoying it immensely since last Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of JB Hager.