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Friday, December 14, 2012

Why Its Not Going To Work To Live Each Day As Though It Were My Last

My husband is a bit of a foodie. While others bemoan the NHL lockout, Brian is cheering along to the Food Network, poring over issues of Saveur magazine, and shamelessly indulging himself in hours of internet porncookery.

For years now, every second friday evening, our back door opens wide and friends pour in with all manner of gastronomic delights, Brian generally being at the forefront of culinary prowess. He is likely to have spent hours poring over his shelves full of recipe books and unruly stacks of scribbled and printed recipes before deciding on that one (or three) concotions that just have to be shared.

All this grandiose cookery has bought Brian a bit of a reputation, and even morphed into a bit of a catering sideshow. Two years running, he's been asked to provide taste bud tittilations for the Christmas party of a rather large farm nearby. Now, this is kind of a big deal. And it pushes Brian well past the boundaries of what a Friday night tapas entails. Now in addition to poring over cookbooks, watching food network til the wee hours of slightly past ten PM, topping up his serving and chafing dish supplies, and coveting two hundred dollar knives, he also begins to develop heart conditions, high blood pressure, pre-traumatic stress disorders, tremors, and hot flashes.

In short, it becomes a family affair. Daughters get hired. Wives get bribed. There is cheese to be shredded, lettuce for chopping, beer batter to mix, a giant brisket to season, asparagus to wrap, beans to soak, trays to collect, pots to stack. There's camembert, proscetto, chilies, limes.

On Saturday morning, I set my alarm. It's my weekend, and I usually expect everyone to survive on nutella and frozen pizzas. I'm not one to slave over a hot stove when there's a break from the weekly grind. But this weekend will be different- not for the kids, who'll still be subjected to my survival of the fittest regime- but for me. I will be cooking, weekend or not. So, to squeeze in my own requirements for a proper weekend, I'm planning an adventure- an early morning road trip with a friend to a thrift shop not yet explored.

We headed down the snowy highway, hot coffees in hand, the hour long drive quickly passing in the warmth of our conversation. And then the treasures! Kitschy Santa ornaments, bottle brush wreaths, vintage sweaters, strings of lights, some books and stickers for the kiddies, a green pendant hanging lamp, and more. It was bliss. It was a weekend in a morning, as well it had to be.

And soon enough Brian was texting, begging me to come and help.

With my newly acquired goodies ready to be played with later, I was ready to pin on my apron and become the loving wife. The girl and I headed straight to the farm and set about chopping and stirring. The setting was sheer perfection- a stellar home, beautifully decorated. Platters upon platters of fresh fruits, veggies, chocolates, and nuts. Wine being chilled, mixes coming in by the crate.

We began in earnest. Hours just kept slipping by and there was still fish to batter and fry, tacos to assemble, portabella mushrooms to barbeque. Panic set in ever so slightly for me, and at top crazy heart racing speed for the main chef. My $2.00 boots began to pinch me, and Arianna's briad wilted in the heat of the boiling oil. People began pouring in in their festive fancy pants and earrings, high heels and expectations.

I began to order tequilas and soda and chop a little faster.

The grand marnier wings and prime rib Yorkshire puddings needed to be taken from the oven and plated. The pans would need to be chisel and pick axe cleaned. Lime marinated cabbage began to fly onto fish tacos at unprecidented speeds.

The ice began to melt on my mint leaves and there were hours to go. Better order a refill.

The soaking pans hit the floor to make room for the dishes that were piling up. People were filing by for seconds and thirds and we barely lifted our heads from the tasks at hand to see if we'd scored.... or bombed. By midnight or one or two, my boots were kicked into the corner, more ice had been found, the pans had more or less been scraped and thrown back into the van. My body made a weary drop beside a friend and I let myself relax.

It had been a long and busy day that had passed by me at breakneck speed in about three minutes. There had been much to laugh about, many ways to delight the palate, with liquid refreshment peppered throughout. We'd put in a spectacular family effort, Brian had pulled it off again, and we'd all worked together as a beautiful machine.

How the clock turned to the hour of 5 AM is way beyond me.

That the clock showed 5:45AM (the time my alarm typically goes off at in the morning) before I ever got to sleep is the second great mystery.

Now, if Saturday had been the last day of my life, I may have chosen to spend my time in similar ways. A road trip and treasure hunting. Helping Brian in his element, celebrating his success. Sharing it with our daughters. Letting hours upon hours drift by sipping on iced drinks with mint, and laughing at everything.

But it wasn't. The truth is that Sunday had already come, and it had been consumed by Saturday. Then there was Tired Monday, Draggish Tuesday, Shoot Me Wednesday, Nap Please Thursday, and TGIF Friday.

In the future, I'm simply going to have to pace myself; it just can't be done. I can't live each day as though it were my last or soon it will be. I'm embracing boring days, and Arthur days, zone-out days and shopping days. Days packed with meaning, and dull days in between; days for helping and days for doing what I want to do.

Until next year. When maybe we'll cater a party again.



naughty elf said...

You two ladies look like sister Hutterites with a little extra bling. Brian too, in his near black vestments could pass, with one major exception, the nearest he would come to the kitchen would be to holler at the womenfolk that the menfold are gettin' hungry. So, apart from the look, you are breaking all the rules of good traditional Mennonite role-playing. Good on ya, Hildebrands!!

janice said...

I LOVE a man who can cook - I will even play the assistant. I keep telling John he is a Good Mennonite Woman (caps intended) and that it is a wonderful compliment when I say that.