Friday, May 09, 2008

Domestic bliss

This post is dedicated to my single readers, who pine for the domestic bliss achieved by longtime couples like Spouse and myself. (Record scratch) Here's what you have to look forward to.

I had an 'alright' day yesterday, but when Spouse woke up from his after work nap yesterday evening he seemed crabby. When the conversation turned to dinner he said he didn't feel like cooking, so he told me I was cooking tonight.

'Um, okay' I thought to myself. I can do that. I'm no 'Top Chef' contestant but I am creative, so I went into the kitchen and quickly tossed some ingredients into the pressure cooker, turned it on, fed the dog and took her for a walk. When we got back, the pressure cooker's digital display was showing some indecipherable error message. I think the top wasn't on tightly enough, which is crucial for pressure cooking, so the food hadn't even started cooking. Of course, that is the moment Spouse walks into the kitchen, expecting the food to be done. He makes some snarky comment about me not knowing my way around a kitchen or something, which I quickly attribute to his post-nap crabbiness and dismiss.

When the meal is finished cooking and we've released the steam, Spouse takes the lid off the pressure cooker and stirs the ingredients. "What is this?" he asks, accusingly, implying I couldn't have possibly put together an actual meal.

I tell him its chicken breasts, marinated artichoke hearts, sour cream, and rice - all ingredients we both like and have eaten in combination with other foods. Unable to find fault with the ingredients (only with me), he continues stirring and then asks "Are there bones in here?" Only the way it came out sounded more like "Are there stones in here?"

Knowing that we always buy frozen boneless/skinless chicken breasts, I answered "I don't think so." Then I remembered that when we shopped the last time, it was me who picked up the 'buy 1 get 1 free' bags of frozen chicken breasts, and that I might not have checked the writing on the bag carefully, so I opened the freezer. Sure enough, the chicken we'd bought was neither boneless nor skinless.

After confessing this to Spouse I tried to salvage his shrinking opinion of the meal and said "Its really not a big deal. The pressure cooker makes the breasts so tender they'll fall off the bones anyway" so we served up our plates and sat down to eat. Spouse began pouring grated parmesan cheese all over his plate, without having even tasting it first, and with no concern over how his further skepticism of my cooking would make me feel.

Seriously, I thought the dish was delicious. I really liked it. Spouse took a few small bites in between fishing out the chicken bones and pushing them to the side of his plate. He made no comment either way about the taste of the dish, nor expressed any appreciation for the fact that I agreed to cook when he said he didn't want to. We just sat there in silence eating our dinner. Well, 1 of us did.

When I was about 1/2 way finished, Spouse got up from the table and placed his plate on the counter by the sink. At 1st I optimistically thought he was going for seconds, but then saw that his plate wasn't empty.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"I'm not hungry" he replied.

"What?" I exclaimed in disbelief.

"I'm not hungry" he repeated, but then after a pause added "and I didn't like it."

Then I let go.

"See, this is why I don't cook. You are always so critical of it when I do."

He tried to protest but I wasn't finished yet.

"If I'm cooking on the stove you come in and ask me why I'm not doing this or that, or why I'm putting this or that in the food, or what's taking so long. And even with the pressure cooker you're not happy. Well, mark this day on your calendar as the last day I cooked!"

There, now it was his turn to speak.

Spouse responded by saying none of that was true, but his protests went in 1 ear and out the other. I really wasn't listening, so he went upstairs and putzed around on the computer. I finished eating, put away the left-overs, and loaded the dishwasher. I watched TV for a while alone, then he joined me for awhile, then he went to bed. I stayed up and watched a movie.

When I tip-toed into the bedroom with stealth-like precision so as not to wake him, he turned over and asked "What are you doing?" I answered "I thought you were sleeping so I made sure to be quiet. I'm going to brush my teeth." No sooner had I flipped on the bathroom light switch and closed the door (in order not to flood the bedroom with light), Spouse calls out "Don't make a bunch of noise in there!"

I opened the bathroom door so I could look at him while I asked "Why are you being such an asshole to me tonight?" He didn't answer. So I brushed my teeth, turned off the bathroom light, took my pillow from the bed, and slept in the guest bedroom.

As I lay there before falling asleep I hoped he would awaken during the night, or at least the next morning, to my vacancy and feel really guilty.

This morning I was awaken by the repeated sounds of the microwave oven beeping and the door being opened and closed, several times. He was apparently far less considerate of my being asleep than I was of his being asleep the night before. It was only 15 minutes before I usually get up, and since I was awake, I just got up.

I called down the stairs to Spouse "What's going on down there? I keep hearing the microwave beeping, and it sounds like you're slamming the microwave door over and over again."

"I was defrosting that container of chili to take for lunch today" he explained. After a brief pause he added "I'm sorry it was so loud."

Call me a romantic, or call me a masochist, but I perceived his apology was for a whole lot more than making noise with the microwave. It seemed to me as if he was apologizing for the microwave, the bedtime rudeness, even the snarky dinner comments, all with that one little sentence. So I decided to let him know that I accepted his apologies in an equally subtle way.

"Be careful driving; its really raining hard" I said.

His response confirmed my theory. "Thanks, you too" he said.

Now, he knew I wasn't going to drive anywhere in the rain. I work from home! But by saying that, he was really saying 'Thank you for accepting my apologies' and 'You know I still love you', both phrases more easily implied than spoken.

I knew what he meant, as opposed to what he said, and he knew I knew what he meant, as opposed to what he said. And in the end, isn't that what's really important?

Crush du Jour: Nick Youngquest


cb said...

Fuck NO that's not what's really important! I'd want an apology damnit! AND I'd never cook again, or if I did I would make "dinner for one" and eat it myself.

Your partner sounds like my father in some regards.

Anonymous said...

I know why I'm still single then, He would have had a pressure cooker on his head. I get that from my Mom. She's kind of fiery. She and my Dad fight, but it's all over in minutes. Then they are fine. My whole family is like that, we just like to get loud to make our points heard.

I admire that you can glean all of that from his words. You are my Yoda.

tornwordo said...

Ah yes, we've had this one. Good times.

Java said...

I wonder if the difference is between singles and those in long time LTRs. I totally get this. I think it is ultimately sweet. My Superman and I have been together 25 years, and we have had these very complex/simple conversations. Torn gets it. cb and UprightGuy have no clue. The longer the relationship, the more subtle the dance moves.

Jeff said...

Ha. I like what Java said: "The longer the relationship, the more subtle the dance moves." How true. With us, often a look is all that's needed to mend fences. Brad and I seldom have big fights anymore. Two a year, perhaps, if that. And they are usually about very mundane things. Over the years, he has learned how to say, "I'm sorry," and I've learned to just leave him alone when he's grumpy.

Anonymous said...

I do NOT look forward to this! Please baby Jeebus protect me!

David Dust said...

This is why I insist on only having "relationships" with straight Latino go-go dancers. If they piss you off, you just stop giving them dollar bills and move on to the next one...

And you don't even have to cook for them ... their mothers or baby mamas always do that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that!

M has about 2 meals in his culinary arsinal, and if it's "his" night to cook he's always prepared.

I stay out of the kitchen when he cooks. He's so sensitive!

I am glad Spouse apologized.