I had an argument with my wife the other day. It was during a nutritionally balanced breakfast of wild Alaskan blueberry hotcakes smothered in butter with birch syrup, Eggs Benedict smothered in Hollandaise sauce with caribou sausage and extra thick cut bacon, and grits smothered in cheese. That was for my son and me. My wife won’t eat real food. She says it’s not good for her diet. Go figure. Pun intended.
For herself, she spritzed a skillet with Pam and fried up a little itty bitty Egg Beater’s omelet lightly flecked with alfalfa sprouts, salsa and fetid cheese (or whatever you call that stuff they make out of sour goat’s milk). She also had half a grapefruit and a mini bran muffin. I told her that she was gonna catch anorexia eating like that, but she was too busy counting calories, simple carbs, and saturated fat grams to hear me, I guess.
Now I could put up with her culinary idiosyncrasies if she could leave me to mine, but she can be quite dominating when it comes to how she wants thing to be at the table. A guy can’t even belch his appreciation of a good meal or clean his ears with his toothpick without my wife feeling the need to micromanage his dining experience.
I mean, it’s not like I don’t notice her issues. I saw her daintily cutting her mini bran muffin and smearing a molecule-thick sheen of sugar free jelly on it. I recognized that it was not only an absolute waste of time (how do you even taste a molecule thick sheen), but that it also pointlessly dirtied a knife. I would have been glad to lend her my bailing-twine-cutting, stick-whittling, psoriasis-scraping, sandwich-cutting, fish-filleting, moose-gutting, paint-stirring, brush-cutting, goat-castrating, apple-coring pocket folder if she had asked. But she didn’t, and I didn’t push the point. Whatever makes her happy is fine by me. I attempted some light banter.
“I read something really disgusting!” I said through a mouthful of grits.
“Ew!” she replied. “You can tell me about it after you have swallowed, and used your napkin, please.”
“What?” I sprayed.
She blanched and grimaced. “Please! You have some cholesterol running out of the side of your mouth. Don’t you have any manners?”
My son chortled with delight. “Cool! Gross Mom out some more, Dad!”
I swallowed my grits in a mighty gulp and jabbed my napkin perfunctorily in the general direction of my face. “Now, son,” I snickered, “Your Mother is right. We should all show our manners at the table.”
“Oh, yeah. Right, Dad. Hey Mom. Look here. Look at these manners!” He took a slug of milk, tilted his head back, gargled the first stanza of “Yankee Doodle”, and then blew a giant milk bubble out of his left nostril. With a look of fiendish triumph, he concluded, “See, I showed my manners at the table—my bad manners. OW! Mom! Leggo of my ear. Ow! Good grief, I was just playing around!”
“Well, I’m not, young man! You can go to your room this minute, and don’t come down until I tell you.”
He stomped off, rubbing his ear and muttering. “It’s no fair. Dad started it!”
She lashed out at me. “See what you started?”
“Started?” I was hurt. “What are you talking about? I couldn’t blow a milk bubble out of my nose if I tried, and I don’t even remember the tune to ‘Yankee Doodle’.”
She snatched the dishes off of the table, strode to the kitchen and plunked them in the sink. I followed her.
“Aw, come on, now, Sugar Dumpling. You’re not mad at me, are you?”
She whirled to glare at me. “How many times have I told you not to call me that?”
“What? Sugar Dumpling? It’s just an affectionate name.”
She poked her nose in the air and spun back to face the sink. “If you want to call me something romantic, why can’t you call me ‘fat-free cream cheese on a celery stick’, or ‘Splenda’, or ‘my little bean curd’?”
I silently formed the phrases, testing them. The chemistry just wasn’t there. Those monikers didn’t give me the urge to dim the lights and put on a CD of saxophones playing Barry Manilow or anything. Perhaps I’m getting old.
I decided to try to salvage the day. “So, anyway, my little bean curd, don’t you want to know about the disgusting thing I read?”
“You sufficiently disgusted me already when you said I remind you of a sugar dumpling!” she pouted.
This was going nowhere fast. “No, no! Not at all! Why, my beloved Fat Free Cream Cheese on a Celery Stick, you remind me of an hourglass, a needle, gazelle, a…” I felt a gleam ignite in the back of my eye. I couldn’t resist: “…a petite young hippo sveltely cavorting…”
I woke up twenty minutes later on the couch with a pounding headache and a beefsteak on my eye. My wife was cradling my head in her lap and cooing over me. It was great. I summoned the most pitiful moan I could muster. “Oooaaahhhrrunngh! What happened?”
“You attacked me,” my wife whimpered.
That didn’t make any sense. I must have gotten hit even harder than I thought. “Excuse me?”
“You were saying the meanest things to me and then you just hauled off and hit my best cast iron skillet with your hard old head and you cracked it.”
“No, your head.”
That was a relief. If I had damaged her skillet, she might have smacked me. “Sorry about that. I don’t remember much. Are you alright?”
“I’m feeling much better now, thank you.”
I tried to smile reassuringly, but the effort caused the headache to ricochet around my skull like an electron in a particle accelerator. I closed my eyes; just managing to groan, “Glad to be of assistance.”
My son called down from his room. “Can I come down, now, Mom? I promise not to be gross anymore.”
He came thundering down the stairs like a whole herd of bison. “So, Dad, what was the disgusting thing you were going to tell us about?”
“I…I don’t really remember. Something about Splenda causing toenail fungus in laboratory rats.”
My wife pulled the beefsteak off of my eye and swatted me with it! I’ll never understand women. I’ll bet you my best hunting rifle that if I had swatted her with a beefsteak, she would have started screeching about it being bad manners, unsanitary, and “Don’t even come close to me with that 1700 calories of fat and cholesterol.” Oh, well. At least she doesn’t force me to drink tofu shakes for breakfast. That would be the last straw. If she did, I’m quite certain I would lose it and start spiking her toenail polish with Splenda.