Wow! What a start to our Cardinal baseball season! Although I did not get to go to the game, I think I had just as much fun at home–and didn’t have to walk as far to the bathroom.
It’s amazing how far we’ve come with television sets. I remember all my family crowding around a little 12-inch screen. Now, thanks to our ever-changing world of technology, we don’t have to go anywhere, because the picture is larger than life. It used to be that you would see a tiny image of a “star” on TV, and then meet them in person and be amazed at how much larger-than-life they were. Now, you see an enormous 8-ft. tall and 3-ft. wide image of a baseball player, and go to the ballpark and laugh at how little he really is in real life.
I do love going to baseball games–sitting there for hours, relishing a couple of hotdogs and cold beers, laughing and sharing the most intimate details of my life with my girlfriends. (The ambient crowd noise ensures utmost confidentiality.) My husband is there, but he’s totally immersed in the game. I like when the games are long and boring, because then my girlfriends and I can really get a good visit in without interruption. I hope that will happen tomorrow night when I actually go to the game.
When I’m at home, baseball is the perfect thing to have on TV when I want to do some deep reading. The quiet of the uneventful game against the World Champion Cubs offered me the peace I needed to navigate the wild world of magical realism that our son Kevin created in his novel. I was turning pages so quickly in anticipation of what happened next that I had flown through 56 pages of “Lily” faster than the Cardinals could get to home base. They hadn’t been there for several innings it seemed, judging by the silence of the droopy opening day crowd, all huddled under rain slickers and umbrellas. Boy was I glad we gave our tickets to son Sam and his wife.
“Yeah!” I cheered.
“You are cheering for the wrong team,” Ted said. “The Cubs just tied the Cardinals.”
“I don’t care who tied who–I JUST FINISHED KEVIN’S BOOK–AND IT’S A HOME RUN!”
“Well, don’t give away the ending, because I have 30 pages to go,” he said.
“Oh, O… K,” I managed to utter.
“Why are you crying,” he asked. “Is it that sad?”
“No, er, yes, Oh, I don’t know. I can’t think.”
I got up, needing to walk, needing to scream–or laugh, or cry–which I was already doing. What I wanted to do was hug my son for this wonderful, 2 and 1/2 year achievement. But I couldn’t, because he was almost half a world away in Japan! He had started this novel while in Thailand teaching English as a second language. Now he’s editing it while taking Japanese immersion lessons in Fukoka, Japan.
All this reading and cheering was making my stomach churn.
“Are you hungry, honey?” I asked. “Should I go pick up something?
“No, don’t worry about me, I’ll just have some of that pizza left over from last night.
Then he really got me off the hook. He jumped up to come in for the pizza and reached the refrigerator door before I stood a chance. My hungry guy is so easy–no messing up a plate and lingering over the microwave–he enjoys it ice cold, right out of the baggie I put it in last night. (Imo’s does somehow taste even better the second day. It’s kind of like chili that way.)
Well, I am going to surprise him with some home cooking, I thought–no Totino’s Pizza Rolls with artificial preservatives for him. I had to prepare a little something healthy to balance the pizza. Besides, we had something to celebrate. Our son’s first novel.
I got busy in the kitchen and my Betty Crocker-self took over: I began scooping and mixing and slicing and dicing, and… Voila!
Dinner for two by the TV just like when we were newlyweds and watched that wonderfully addictive series, Rich Man Poor Man. In the “olden days,” as I tell my dumbfounded grandchildren, you only had one night to watch it. That was the night it was “broadcast”–a word not in their generation’s vocabulary.
I had carefully prepared a bowl of cottage cheese, topped with two bright yellow peach halves. Then, not wanting to waste, I poured the shiny, clear heavy syrup over the whole bowl and garnished the peaches with a dollop of cranberry sauce from last week when I served one of Schnucks’ roasted chickens. Note: the shelf life of cranberry sauce is several months if stored in the refrigerator.
Well, he thanked me profusely, and I felt so good, so productive–not the way Kevin must have felt when he completed his book. But I did feel, well, creative. Now that I know I can make a good healthy dinner in a jiffy, I am on a roll with this home cooking.
When the big National Championship basketball game was about to start, I was feeling the pressure those young men must feel during their dribbles. I had to put on my “full court press.”
“What are you hungry for tonight?” I asked.
“Well, I have a surprise for you,” he said, a smile starting at the corners of his mouth. I stopped at the store on the way home.” (Poor guy. He knows there’s no food here.)
“You just sit tight and I’ll serve you.” He beamed.
He very efficiently popped a black tray in the microwave. (I didn’t have the heart to tell him it should go on a real plate, but hoped the plastic would not melt into the food). Then he scooped something out of another plastic, quart-sized container, and presented me with a delicious cabbage roll and chicken salad on Wheat Thins. I must tell you, everyone loves Straubs chicken salad, but from our experience, Schnucks chicken salad with the pecans is gourmet eating at its finest!
“Mmm. This is so good! Thank you, honey.” I oohed and aahed appropriately.
I could tell he was so proud of himself.
He glowed while carrying his plate to the sink and even rinsing it before leaving it on the counter. He’d never shown any awareness of our dishwasher–probably because he’d never seen me use it. He asked where I stored the plastic grocery bags. (They’ve been under the sink for the ten years that we’ve had our new kitchen).
“Under the sink,” I said, and he turned around from the island sink I was referring to, and opened the dishwasher next to the main sink. “No, honey, that’s the dishwasher. Turn around. Good. Yes, this sink. There’s a cabinet door below it. That’s where I keep them.”
I did not want to criticize him when he was trying so hard to please me–but how can a man who can fly an airplane not know how to work a dishwasher? Or at least spot one when it’s right in front of him? Oh well, as if I don’t have any fawlts.
He smiled. So sweet and innocent was his joy, you would think he just went on his first ride at The Magic Kingdom–and like Aladdin, had just discovered “A Whole New World.”
Thinking me a fabulous cook, as I’ve been his one and only wife and he has no other frame of reference, he tried to impress me: “See, I can put together a meal, too, and I’m happy to take the burden off you for a change.”
“And I do appreciate it. Thanks so much, honey.”
Tummies full, we settled down to watch Gonzaga battle UNC.
I didn’t really care who won. I knew I’d already won. My husband may not be perfect at plumbing, handy with a hammer, or good at grilling, but, in a pinch, he can throw together a satisfying meal from the Schnucks deli in no time! No “gender specific” roles for us. As we get older and live together longer, we seem to be morphing into each other. We finish each other’s sentences and often say the same thing out loud at the same time. Like: “Sure wish the kids would call.” Then we look at each other and laugh.
I find myself gently pulling the remote control from his hand when he falls asleep now, and I’ve actually had success at turning the TV off–a blessing at night when I want to read my Kindle in bed. It’s an especially satisfying trick since I have never been able to turn it on. The remote has always been HIS domain. But we are evolving and roles are changing. I may even begin teaching him how to use the washing machine.
I imagine this role changing is a survival technique that God instills in aging couples: If I go first, he will be able to feed himself. If he goes first, I will be able to watch TV.
Some things haven’t changed: UNC won their sixth national championship, beating Gonzaga (whoever they are) 71 to 65. I can’t say I saw it. I was too distracted to sit and watch the game with my sweet husband, who watched alone. As usual, I got so caught up in writing this that I think I went overboard.