If I may alter a phrase from Forrest Gump’s mother, “Husbands are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” On this sixtieth anniversary of acquiring one, I can prove my point. I thought I knew what I was getting after dating the young man for two years in a country community where secrets weren’t hidden for long.
I knew my mother-in-law and had tasted her wares. Queen of the Kitchen, her entire mission in life was feeding her four boys, and she did it well. She filled her mornings with chopping, stirring, baking, and tasting for the full noon meal and enough leftovers for supper. On Sundays, there would be a couple of kinds of meat, an assortment of starchy vegetables, gravy, at least two desserts, and for a nod at something green, a bowl of English peas. Her meals might not have passed the Health Police, but they were good!
Now, she did not allow any interference in her kitchen, so I was aware that my husband’s knowledge of what happened there was limited to where to find a plate and fork. I married him, expecting absolutely no help in the kitchen. I was pleasantly surprised when he turned out to be quite willing to peel potatoes or carrots; chop onions, celery, and nuts; and best of all – clean up. For the first fifteen years or so of our marriage, we worked under the system that I cooked, he cleaned up.
Things began to change with a fund-raiser at church with deacons and pastor challenged to bake a cake with no help and only verbal advice from their wives. He jumped right in. After a dozen or so weird questions, he had his applesauce cake ready for the oven only to discover that he had not turned it on. He actually enjoyed the experience, and we had applesauce cake occasionally until he decided to branch out. First, he added other cakes and then meals and snacks until the cooking these days it about 50/50. Now, we have a different system. If I cook, he cleans up. If he cooks, he cleans up. It works for me.
And now Al’s fame has spread. Family gatherings include at least two favorite cakes with sample pound cakes for attendees to take home. Wednesday night potlucks at church bring questions about what kind of cake Al brought, and the reception for our associate pastor after her wedding required a couple of her favorites. Recently, his three-layer carrot cake brought fifty dollars at the friendly auction to support missions activities in Mississippi.
Sixty years ago today, I didn’t know what I was getting. But in case you are looking in the box of chocolates, you’ll have to settle for something else. I already got the chocolate covered cherry!