Monday, January 19, 2009
Lois’ husband here...I’ll be taking over my wife’s blog today. The following is a microcosm of two people who decided to build a life together and stuck with it...those of you married for a number of years, can relate to this.
For over 20 years, my wife has called out to me from the kitchen, asking for some impromptu assistance with weights or measurements while preparing a recipe. Now, for those of us privilaged to know Lois on a personal level, one is struck by her organizational proficiency. She does, however, have one gap which I have always found unfathomable. Math. Now cups, ½ cups, and ¼ cups have never really posed much of a challenge to her. Other fractions, on the other hand, do sometimes present a problem.
Shortly after we got married, as she began to apply the skills she picked up in her mother’s kitchen to her own, it was common for me to hear, “Is 2/3 more or less than 3/4?" This was often on a Saturday afternoon, or during preparation for a holiday gathering. There were also questions related to conversion rations between cups, pints, ounces, tablespoons, and teaspoons.
For the first 5 years I of course fielded all questions with my condescending, oh-so-smart tone, smugly reveling in that pretentious superiority common to those of us who read and claim to understand Stephen Hawking. However, sometime during year 6, something dreadful happened.
No, scratch that. Sometime during year 6, I allowed something dreadful to infect my thinking on this. My responses took on a slightly darker inflection. My responses lacked the caring and the sheer joy that we should all take in serving each other. I began to think, “This is pretty basic stuff, shouldn’t she know this by now?”
And then, there was this, “Perhaps a block of instruction is in order,” a thought which can only come from a coal-black heart, wrapped in a smothering blanket sitting by itself in a windowless room. While, I’m glad I never voiced that thought out loud, for 10 years I answered my wife’s questions from the kitchen with barely concealed annoyance that drifted dangerously close to out right mockery. Husbands, and wives, we’ve all been there.
Looking back, I’m kind of surprised she didn’t stop asking me. I’m glad she didn’t. She never lost her cheerful, self-effacing regard for her own math skills, or lack thereof. Around year 15, I can’t pinpoint the time exactly, my attitude toward this part of our marital dynamic changed yet again, this time for the better.
Call it a Word from the Almighty, an epiphany of my own, or simply acquired wisdom through years of trial and error. My wife’s questions from the kitchen became something to which I looked forward during holidays and weekends. Like the scent of baking bread, a crackling fire in the hearth, or the fragrance of cinnamon sticks over a potpourri candle, it’s a warm feeling, one that lets me know that I’m in my home. Of course, it’s always been that way; it just took me a few years to realize it.
Perhaps it’s just her way of making me feel useful, or an unconscious effort on her part to keep us connected. Such in-depth analysis might be worthy of a graduate level paper (some other graduate student, of course, not me).
In the meantime, I hope my wife never masters her fractions. It would be a very sad day for me.
⋅ Labels: The Colonel