TOAST CRUMBS AND LEMONS
My husband of 41 years retired about a year before the pandemic. And, although both of us worked – I from home the last 20 of those years and he out of the home – we have always had a 1950’s “traditional” union. I did all the cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, and laundry. He took out the trash. After his retirement, things kind of remained the same with me pushing a little for a more equal division of labor. After all, I remained a working woman. Then the pandemic hit.
I elected not to go to the grocery store, so he has taken over that task for the last 7 or more months. Eventually, he took over all the cooking – and even cleaning up after meals. I am not the least bit ashamed. Though I know June Cleaver (youngsters will have to look her up) would be aghast if she saw what is going on here! And I’m not going to lie, it’s all a bit out of character as my husband has gone from Ward Cleaver (husband to June) to, well… follow this story to see where it goes…
One day after hubby asked me if I could “handle the toast” while he finished up scrambling the eggs. Of course, I could! I could scramble the eggs while I took care of the toast, but I kept that thought to myself. I sensed a bit of early morning attitude in his request though and after 40+ years of marriage I knew enough to go with the flow. After all, I only had to push the lever on the toaster for the bread he had sitting at attention in its little slicer spot. After breakfast he asked if I would remove the crumbs that remained after I made the toast. I said I could and proceeded to wipe the toaster and empty the tray beneath the appliance.
While standing at the sink wiping the trays, he said those words that made nails run down a chalk board. “Did you know crumbs also fall under the toaster?” I stopped dead in my tracks but held my tongue because I was going to be sarcastic and reply something like “So, you are just finding this out?” It was kind of adorable, and telling, that he didn’t have any idea before this day that toast crumbs don’t stay contained inside the toaster. And, if he had waited 30 seconds, he would have seen me walk back with the dish rag to wipe up the counter under the toaster. But he was a rookie, so I let it go.
What fascinated me though is that HE didn’t know that. Ward Cleaver was learning the ways of housekeeping. He picked up on the toast crumbs under the toaster without me telling him about them. Oh, how I wish I had been in the kitchen the day he moved the toaster to get to the outlet or to fish out something that fell behind it only to discover – Horrors of horrors – toast crumbs on the counter, under the toaster! The enlightenment of it all.
I did have to chuckle a little at his innocence because, with all due respect, he never had to even dust off the crumbs before so why should he know some of them fell out of the bottom and on to the counter. The man I met 45 years prior who had come to the kitchen when called to dinner and left the table with his plate and fork still at his seat should not be held accountable for not helping in the kitchen. His mother, and then I, took care of it for him. We were still living the life of a 1950’s couple even though it was more than 70 years after June and Ward set the tone.
Now that he does the grocery shopping, he’s become a bit of a humor writer for me. He typically talks about the Navy, or a funny incident he recalls from the past. Sometimes we talk about the news of the day or health regiments. But, the other night after sitting down to the dinner table in what is now at least year 45 (we ate together we before we got married) he began to lament about the price of lemons. Once again, I found myself struck silent, even frozen still in my seat. He wanted to know if I knew lemons were 20 cents cheaper at one store than they are at another. He was appalled at the highway robbery they were trying to pull. Why, he wanted to know, would there be such an imbalance of pricing? And, he was beginning to see this with other food items as well. It was infuriating him, but I couldn’t move. My entire body froze but my eyes continued to look around the room to assure me I hadn’t been transported to another place. But that I was in fact in my own kitchen and this in fact was my husband.
It just seems very unusual to be discussing the price of lemons…with my husband. Even more unusual that he is the leader of said discussion!
A couple days after the lemon price comparison, I saw a meme on the internet showing cartoon people in the vegetable aisle at the grocery store and everyone was trying to open the plastic bags without licking their fingers. You know the bags that seem to be stapled shut to prevent you from opening them so you can put your vegetables inside? The cartoon was quite amusing.
Then I thought, I’m going to ask my husband at dinner tomorrow how he gets the bags open. That’s going to make a great dinner conversation, I’m sure. I’m happy to know he learned the “rubbing” method. You know the one? You use two hands to rub the bag together creating enough friction to separate it. Can I just say how proud I am of him for stepping up! And that I can’t wait to see what tales he brings to the dinner table next time.