There are quite a few things that must work in sync in order for a traveling mom to be successful. One of the most important things is having a support system at home to help with the daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring the kids, etc. My situation is no different. In the early years, when both my husband and I worked, my wonderful mother provided part of that support.
After our move to Florida my mother became very ill and my husband retired and took over these responsibilities. He never once complained. He seemed to relish his new role. It gave him the opportunity to work on his dream car and hang out with his other retired friends.
Throughout our marriage, he has often mentioned how he had once dreamed of becoming a chef. Well, now he had the chance to become the head chef of our household. I use the term chef very loosely as most of his meals seemed to consist of grilled sandwiches and hotdogs. After a while, I threatened to never allow another hotdog in my house if I saw one on the table for dinner again. Thus, the dinner experiments began. Most of his experiments were quite tasty once you got past their appearance.
One evening I was on my way home from the office when I called to ask what he was cooking for dinner. He said he was going to “surprise” me. I should have immediately turned around and gone back to the office – anywhere but home. How could I forget that the word “surprise” in the same sentence as dinner is never, ever, ever a good thing. It bears the same connotation as “mystery meat” did in the school cafeteria and often the same physical side effects.
Since I had not yet learned this lesson, I continued my trek home quite eager to see what he had been up to. When I open the front door, I was instantly hit with the most pungent smell I had ever encountered. My eyes burned and began watering. My nose, and even throat, were on fire. They felt like I had been doused with kerosene. This was all before I had shut the front door. I thought maybe he made a mess in the oven and turned on the cleaning feature.
I heard him clanging around in the kitchen, so I knew that although the smell was horrific it wasn’t physically damaging. I dropped everything and rushed into the kitchen to find out what in God’s name he was up to. He was so excited, he had found the crock-pot and was making BBQ (with a side of paint thinner?).
There was no evidence in the kitchen of what he used to create this concoction so I had no alternative but to inspect the crock-pot for myself. I was very hesitant to lift the lid not knowing if I was going to trigger some insane gas explosion all the while recalling in detail the true crime stories I’d seen where a spouse murders the other by lacing the dinner with poison. As you can see, by this point my imagination had gone way overboard.
Now if I thought the odor was bad when I walked in, I was in for a shock when I lifted the lid on the crock-pot. The smell, the vapors were so dense, so powerful I nearly fainted. It took at least a half hour with the lid off, all windows open and fans blowing for the odorous cloud to disperse enough to look inside the crock-pot without scalding my retinas. When I did, I saw two “unidentified” circular “objects” bobbing and “floating” in about two gallons of a yet unknown liquid. This gave a new meaning to “UFO” (unidentified floating objects in Chuck’s case). There was no way I was going to eat this, absolutely no way! Now what do you think I ate for dinner instead? Yep, you guessed it a freaking hot dog!!!
Now Chuck seemed to take my refusal to eat his experiment quite well. He ate it and survived. I chalked that up to the fact that he had likely grown immune to its side effects by being exposed to the vial odor for so long. After dinner, we cleaned up the dishes together. We laughed about it like we do most things. I joked with him that after tonight I was afraid he wouldn’t be able to burn water properly, to which he so jovially agreed.
I didn’t pay attention to what he had done with the leftovers. I should have taken charge of them to make sure they were safely destroyed since dangerous chemicals could be very hazardous to our environment. I just assumed he’d get the hint. Nope — not even close!
The next night, I again called on my way home and again asked what we were having for dinner. After last night, I expected to hear pork chops, spaghetti, or something similar. I nearly drove off the road when he matter-of-factually replied “leftovers”. What the hell was he thinking! I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was not eating that crap OR another hotdog for dinner.
I stopped by the grocery and picked up a few items to make a rather quick meal along with a mask to protect my senses from any further damage. To my dismay, I got home preparing for the worst. When I opened the front door, there were no pungent vapors, no UFO’s in the crock-pot, just a bowl of BBQ on the table with the most mouthwatering aroma I had ever experienced in my house.
There was no way that BBQ came from the leftovers of his nuclear experiment. I asked and asked again. He stood by his story. I looked in the garbage cans, inside and out, nothing. My daughter swore he made the BBQ from leftovers – that she watched him and even tasted it. If she was brave enough, how could I refuse. With reluctance, I grabbed a fork and took a couple slivers hoping and praying I was not eating my last meal. When I finally garnished the nerve to take a bite, I literally crossed the gates of Heaven. This was the most amazing, succulent BBQ I had EVER eaten.
Now, I am not a meat eater; however on this particular night I had a second helping and even took a small serving in my lunch the following day. As we were cleaning the kitchen that night, I reached over and kissed him on the cheek and told him that he had successfully learned the art of burning water.