Monday, October 4, 2010

become a real live woman

Has it happened? Has my moving into this wooden box and this new realm of marriage finally deemed me a real, live woman? At this point, I’m not sure. Someone called me a woman (without the “young” at the beginning) two days ago and I quickly began looking around trying to determine who they were talking to. Certainly, it was not me.

My mother is the essence of the word “woman.” She is classy, kind, polite, nurturing, beautiful, talented, and a great cook. Sometimes I wonder if it’s feasible for me to ever be that kind of a woman. I’m just not sure I have it in me. I tend to say what’s on my mind, burp with my mouth open and eat food I’ve dropped on the floor (without even blowing it off first). Can you make a woman from that? Professor Henry Higgins took a colleague up on a bet and worked his magic on scrubby Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady…perhaps this wooden box took a bet on me. Perhaps all these neighboring boxes are just holding their breath to see if wooden box #202 has it in its splintery sides to refine me, a child in a 20-something body. Too bad it doesn’t quite have the counter space to allow for the type of cooking and homemaking a real woman requires. Too bad the sink is too small to even fit a dish in. Too bad the oven is 25 degrees hotter than the knob says it is. The odds are against you, wooden box #202.

In spite of these odds, I cook. That is one aspect of womanhood this new marriage thing has persuaded me to attempt. Perhaps it’s because I love food (heaven knows it’s not because my kitchen is calling me to do it) but it’s likely due in part to the fact that dear Robert loves food 100 times more than me. Actually, maybe a quadruple million times more. I think I love cooking for him and eating with him because he fully appreciates food. Well, he eats almost anything so perhaps that’s not saying much for my cooking, but I still like making food for him. But beyond that, I think I actually enjoy the art of cooking. Despite its length and the poor acting of Julia Child’s counterpart in the movie “Julie and Julia,” as I watched that film a few years ago I found myself fascinated with cooking. It was sitting in the theater that day that I realized cooking was actually an art. At the time I didn’t make much more than toast and snickerdoodles, but I felt this innate sense that one day I would like to cook. Today, my meatloaf (leftovers still in the fridge) would not hold up to Julia’s apricot roasted duck, but if I had all the time in the world I’d love to plow through the pages of her cookbook and give each recipe a shot. Maybe I will one day…when I have the time (which will be never). For now, I’ll stick with the basics and branch out slowly. I’m just a baby of a chef at this point. In fact, my infancy in the kitchen was made blaringly apparent a few days ago when I called my mother (the REAL woman) to ask how to cook corn on the cob. She didn’t answer, so I boiled it. It turned out fine. Who knows? Maybe apricot roasted duck would turn out fine too. I likely would not resort to boiling it though.
My love for socializing, my new love for cooking and this wooden box we live in have collectively moved things to a new level…dinner parties. Are you a real live woman when you host dinner parties? If so, I think wooden box #202 might win the bet. Our apartment is small but has lots of character and hosting those we love while eating good food is what I think makes the world go ‘round. Almost imperceptivity this wooden box now has me cooking occasionally for 6 to 12 people. Grandma Mecham would be so proud. She is a REAL chef. Truly, some of the best things known to mankind come from her kitchen. I dream sometimes of being able to pull from my cupboards anything I like and creating something decadent. My creation would be a perfect combination of spices and flavors, all perfectly blended together WITHOUT a recipe. One day. Not today, but one day. My grandmother is a master at this. My grandmother Welch was too and I didn’t realize it until after she was gone and I asked my Mom for some of her recipes and my mom told me much of what Grandma made was from memory or were her own creations. What a lady! In any case, Grandma Mecham also loves dinner parties and is the best at socializing. Sometimes I think I get my need to know everything about everyone from her. She is fearless in question-asking, as am I. It makes for much more interesting conversation material and allows one to get to know fellow dinner party guests much more quickly. Anyhow, Robert loves dinner parties too. This was something I was unaware of until one day he just came right out and asked, “Can we have dinner parties when we’re married?”
“Yes. Yes indeed, we can,” was my answer.

And so…we do. And what a dream it is to have a husband who helps. Last Thursday night was spent, first, walking to the library to pick up some David Sedaris books and browse through the audio-visual section, and then on a stroll up the street to the grocery store to purchase the makings of enchiladas. Robert insisted on carrying all four bags home, mostly filled with cans of enchilada sauce and vegetables. I guess that’s part of being a real woman too…letting men carry things for you. In the next hour and a half our beensy kitchen turned into what looked like a slaughter house. The enchilada recipe called for the tortillas to be dipped in enchilada sauce before they were filled. Robert worked on the top of the stove and I worked on the 1 ft. x 1 ft. of counter space we have next to the sink, the only counter space left besides the other 1 ft square taken up by the dish rack. In about three minutes flat there was red sauce on my white t-shirt, bare feet, stove front, stove top, backsplash, my forehead and all over our hands, dripping down our arms. If anyone would have walked in on the scene they likely would have assumed we were performing some sacrificial ritual. Twenty-five bloody rolled up enchiladas later and we were ready for the party! The guests joined us Friday evening and we had quite the fiesta. It was Thanksgiving Mexican style as we sat 12 people around our 2 tiny tables end-to-end in our makeshift dining room. Luckily 2 of the party attendees came late because we only have 10 plates and were able to wash 2 before the latecomers arrived. Here is the only picture we have from the evening…only capturing a few of all the guests.

So…it hasn’t happened. Not quite yet, but it IS happening. I have a feeling when it happens I won’t even notice it. I don’t think I’ll even believe that it’s happened or feel the change. This little wooden box is proving to me that even in spite of the worst conditions I can cook, I have the capacity to hostess and I have the capability to become that illusive word that has steered so far away from my identity for so long…WOMAN.


  1. I've been married 3 years, have two kids, a dog, and a mom body and I don't think I'm any closer to being a WOMAN. I like cooking in theory, but despise it in reality cuase it takes way too much planning and time and Matt cares more than I do so he'd rather do it. He accuses me of having dead taste buds. They're not dead, I just don't care cause I just get way too ravenous. I'd eat cardboard if there was some ranch or ketchup to dip it in. I wish for Matt's sake that I liked it more.

  2. you...are man. (blah blah blah) so I can be taller than!