Cramped kitchen space keeps couples closePublished 9:53am Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Column: Tales from Exit 22, by Al Batt
It’s the cold and flu sneezin’.
I typically sneeze three times when I sneeze.
South of the border, a trio of sneezes brings a trio of words, “Salud. Dinero. Amor.”
When I sneeze thrice in Minnesota, the responses change to, “Gesundheit. Bless you. Get a mop.”
When enough people sneeze, Valentine’s Day is blown in.
If a day can lurk, Valentine’s Day lurks.
It began in grade school. We cut and pasted uncooperative construction paper, added bits of ribbon or lace, and fashioned Valentine cards. We exchanged them. Most cards displayed “Be my Valentine” written in a childish scrawl. None of us could top Shel Silverstein’s verse, “Barbara’s eyes are blue as azure, but she is in love with Freddy. Karen’s sweet, but Harry has her. Gentle Jane is going steady. Carol hates me. So does May. Abigail will not be mine. Nancy lives too far away. Won’t you be my Valentine?” However, some creative students did add mushy witticisms. “What did the pencil say to the paper? I dot my i’s on you.” “If you were a booger, I’d pick you first.”
I hope you guys have your cards, candy, flowers, stuffed animals, fancy restaurants, diamonds or cars picked out. Men search for up to a half-hour for the perfect whatchamacallit to soften the impact of months of being knuckleheads.
Valentine’s Day is when good husbands do loving things like putting the garbage out before being asked.
A few days ago, I tried to talk my wife into buying kimchi.
Kimchi is a spicy, fermented cabbage that Koreans devour so prodigiously (40 pounds per person annually) that I’ve heard that they say “kimchi” instead of “cheese” when having their pictures taken.
My wife wasn’t keen on acquiring kimchi. She was certain that in the case of a nuclear war, the supermarket shelves would be picked clean of everything but kimchi.
She gave in. We purchased the fragrant cabbage. She knew if she didn’t, I’d buy some of the stuff and give it to her on Valentine’s Day.
I’ve behaved that way before. I once bought her a jug of aquavit. I thought it would be the perfect gift for someone of Norwegian ancestry. Aquavit (pronounced “AH-keh-veet”) is a potato-based liquor, flavored with caraway, that takes its name from the Latin “aqua vitae,” meaning “water of life.” I gave my bride some “linie aquavit.” Linie (pronounced “LINN-yuh”) means “line.” The line is the equator. Linie aquavit is shipped in oak casks from Norway to Australia and back again. The liquor supposedly gains flavor as it travels.
My bride had a snort and swore off the stuff. The bottle, nearly full, sat unloved in our garage, until we found a good home for it.
I had better luck giving her jicama. Jicama (HIK-ka-ma) is a crispy, sweet tuber that resembles a turnip and is quite popular in Mexican cuisine. Jicama’s flavor lends itself well to salads, salsas and vegetable platters. I’ve heard jicama called the yam bean, Mexican potato or Mexican turnip.
With kimchi, aquavit and jicama disqualified, I’ll give my wife chocolate. It’s easy for me to give. I don’t like the stuff. That means I regift any chocolate I’m given.
We’ve been married since back in the day when I had to walk five miles through deep snow just to change the TV channel. Those were dark days before the remote control.
Valentine’s Day is on most calendars. Folks can celebrate or ignore it. We have 12 months and we’re not afraid to use them, but Valentine’s Day should be in June when flowers are available for the picking. It’s hard to find dandelions in February.
A seller of houses told me that kitchen congestion is a bad thing. It’s not. A small kitchen might be the best Valentine’s Day gift. Kitchens are where husbands are accused of being underfoot, but sharing a cramped space between a refrigerator and a stove keeps a couple in close contact. Bodies bump and romance rekindles. It’s a style of dancing called the kitchen sidestep.
I remember our first date as if it were a long time ago. We went in separate cars. Her mother asked my sweetie, “Are you sure he’s better than no date at all?”
After one date, my future spouse considered becoming a nun, but her pastor advised that wasn’t something a good Congregationalist girl did. She became my wife instead.
Cupid’s aim was true. In addition to the chocolate, I’ll give my wife control of the TV remote for the day.
Al Batt’s column appears every Wednesday and Sunday.