Not long ago, before leaving for school one morning, my wife, Tia, announced, “You’re responsible for dinner tonight.” I knew she must be feeling crummy because putting me in charge of dinner was commensurate to putting Jefferson Davis in charge of uniting the country.
“No sweat,” I thought, and that afternoon stopped at Trader Joe’s, the one-stop shopping place for completely cooked, microwaveable meals and meats. After cruising by the frozen bins, although tempted by several airbrushed color box tops worthy of framing, I ogled the plastic-wrapped meats.
“Take me! Take me!” a small ham shouted, doing a spot-on impression of Daniel Day-Lewis at the end of “Last of the Mohicans.”
At home, I threw the pink mini-football in the fridge, and waited to surprise my bride.
“I got a ham!” I shouted when she walked in, holding it like a diamond-encrusted ruby.
“Great,” she said in the same tone of voice used on laundry day when hearing another white blouse had snuck into the pile of reds when my back was turned.
Dinner came and went without ham. Instead, Tia served the Blue Goose chicken soup and Sugar Path cupcakes dropped off by friends Jackie and Jenny who heard she was feeling glum. Over tea, Tia shared the story of my preparing “dinner” by plopping a ham in the fridge. “They laughed so hard,” Tia reported later, as if the best thing about husbands was a source of amusement for wives.
Later, Tia revealed to neighbor Jeanne my doltish move. “I hope you didn’t share the chicken soup and cupcake with him,” Jeanne said, kidding. I think.
“Sweetie,” Tia explained the next night when slicing the ham into the crockpot’s pea soup, “when I said you were responsible for dinner, I didn’t mean just buy a piece of meat.”
“I wanted you to make dinner, not throw something in the refrigerator.”
Hello? When did the rules for the hunter spouse change from “bring home a fresh carcass” to “bring home a fresh carcass; sprinkle on spices; grill, bake, wave or sauté it; add carb and veggie sides; serve it family style with napkin, silverware and potable?”
See, our usual plan stipulated one spouse cooked and the other did dishes. This blueprint, apparently, did not account for a spouse too exhausted to make dinner. I mistakenly thought my buying the ham magnanimous, the purchase an extracurricular act of love meriting anything from a, “Thank you, darling, for the ham,” to an Amazon gift card.
Did I learn from this incident? You bet. Next time she says I’m responsible for dinner, I’m calling the Gratto and ordering its scallop hors d’oeuvre and a white fish dinner to take out. This hunter has learned how to gather.
Moreover, Tia has a birthday soon, but says she doesn’t want any presents. Good thing I listen to her now and do what she wants. She’ll totally love it when I just buy her a card.
Who says men aren’t sensitive to women’s expectations?
• Rick Holinger has taught high school English and lived in the Fox Valley for nearly 35 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.