James likes to cook after I scrub the kitchen. It’s usually just meat, but occasionally he’ll throw a vegetable in there, provided it’s immersed in some sort of sauce he created from salad dressing, cheese and whatever he can find in the refrigerator door that hasn’t expired. One time, at 3:00 a.m. he handed me a plate that included bacon, country fried pork, and a slab of ham. I never know what to expect, but it’s usually complicated and involves every pan he can get his hands on. He often photographs his projects and posts them online along with his “secret” recipes. He’s a proud man.
Our kitchen is smaller than the master bathroom in my house in Grand Rapids. If you have to get into the fridge when someone else is in there, the other person has to step into the oven. I try not to go in there when he’s working his food magic unless I’m summoned to chop an onion or find the soy sauce. I can hear what’s happening, but I really don’t want to know because I’ll find out soon enough after he abandons the job. On his tombstone I’m going to chisel, “I’ll clean it later.”
He makes these great offerings to me; these overflowing platters of gruel, when I’m least hungry. I have to eat it all or his feelings are hurt. “Don’t you like my food?” “Ummm, yes, but you gave me a pile of meat that’s bigger than my head, and is as taller than that mound of potatoes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “
Everything within two feet of the stove is covered in splatter. What I never understand is how I find food and butter wrappers in the sink when the garbage is sitting right next to his feet. I’ll be scrubbing the cupboards after he cooks, wondering what the Hell the sticky green stuff is and where he found mint jelly. Plus, what the heck was it IN? Was that lamb I was eating? Sometimes it’s hard to tell because he enjoys overcooking animal proteins. I’ll be on my 99th chew of a skewered piece of beef when he says, “What do you think?” The answer is always, “Wow, this is fantastic!”
I once found my hamster behind the refrigerator. She was huge; yet another victim of James’ Muppet Show Swedish Chef cooking style. What did she find? Chicken nuggets? Petrified pizza crust? A stray side of beef? She could have lived for years back there had I not heard the crunching.
James was in there again tonight. I came home from work and found a non-stick fry pan caked with something I had to soak off; a 2 foot long BBQ spatula; and a plate caked with cheese in the sink along with two beer cans and a dirty cake pan. His motto is, “I cook it. YOU clean it!” I don’t think this should apply if there is absolutely no evidence that there was anything for me OR the hamster. I probably wasn’t looking close enough. I’m sure he left me something under the stove.