The Crumble Incident

In 2002, I was living in Inverness, Scotland. My fiancé and I were renting a fantastic little apartment that looked like something straight out of a catalogue. My favourite part was the kitchen. It was a tad on the small side, but perfect for two people. The floors were terracotta tile, the cupboards were light pine, the appliances were stainless steel, and the walls were painted a pleasant buttery yellow. There was even a washing machine.

The apartment came to us looking the way it did, but if the decorating were left to us, we would have probably done it the same way.

There was one little thing about the kitchen that was a little odd: the “hood” above the stove wasn’t really a hood… it was a piece of decorative wood in front of an empty space. We never knew why the landlord didn’t install an exhaust fan, but it was never really an issue.

In April of that year, my sister and her then-boyfriend were supposed to be coming all the way from Canada to visit us for a little vacation. It was the first time I had ever met The Boyfriend.

Knowing that my sister had a few dietary issues that we would have to plan around, my fiancé and I came up with a series of sister-friendly meals so that she wouldn’t have to feel left out. The day after they arrived, which also happened to be my sister’s birthday, the dinner menu was to include roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed vegetables, and a mixed berry crumble for dessert.

I practically hibernated in the kitchen, making the dinner. There were dishes and ingredients everywhere- not a space to be found on the counters at all.

The Boyfriend popped his head into the kitchen and asked if there was anything he could do to help. I directed him towards a small baking pan, and practically threw some ingredients at him, telling him to put the crumble together… preferably in the dining room.

Put it together, he did. Like a boss. That thing was practically beautiful.

My man was doing what he did best, whenever I was busy making a big dinner: getting in the way. He got in the way at a champion level, picking that exact moment to “come in and help tidy up”.

By “come in and help tidy up”, I really mean “come in and magically be everywhere the wife needs to be”.

As I stood in front of the gas stove, sweating over my glazed carrots and mashed potatoes and dodging my man, The Boyfriend popped his head back into the kitchen and asked where he could put the pan of mixed berry crumble.

Knowing he’d never find a spot on the counter, I said: “Put it on top of the cupboards, it’s clean up there.”

To this day, I do not know exactly what made him forgo all the other cupboard tops.

I didn’t even think about what he was doing as I moved aside a little to let him squeeze into an available space in front of the stove. I simply moved aside, and kept stirring seasoning into the mashed potatoes.

In retrospect, that was probably what saved me.

As The Boyfriend was about to set the pan down on what he thought was a surface just above the stove, I looked up in horror.

There was an instant of panic in my eyes as the crumble began its downward spiral.

“Crap!” I shrieked, as the pan hit the stove top. The berries, and all their juices, went everywhere. Dark purple juices went all over the carrots, potatoes, nicely roasted chicken, the walls, counter, floor, you name it.

Everywhere but on me, apparently. I still have no clue how that happened.

I turned around. There behind me stood my man and The Boyfriend, with nice dark purple berry juice all over their white t-shirts and khaki shorts.

“Right!” I commanded. “Strip, you two!”

“Huh?” The Boyfriend asked, stupefied.

“You two are about the same size. You can borrow some clothing from my fiancé while I wash your clothes. If I get them into the wash right now, I can save them.”

I have to admit, I took no small amount of pleasure in the fact that there were two good looking men stripping down to their skivvies in my kitchen.

I managed to save their clothing from an evil stain, even if I never could get the berry juices completely off my nice yellow walls after that.

The dinner turned out to be oddly delicious. We had berry-flavoured roasted chicken, berry-flavoured glazed carrots, berry-flavoured mashed potatoes, and berry-flavoured gravy.

Needless to say, I never let The Boyfriend live it down after that. I made sure to tell everybody that I had him strip for me practically the day after meeting me.

The Band-Aid Challenge

i_love_band_aids_round_stickers-red53d5b717c34fd3ab536312eacf0355_v9waf_8byvr_324Jack is accident prone.

He is almost never without some kind of bruise, goose egg, or cut on him somewhere. He bumps into things for no apparent reason. He trips over air. He runs into walls, and introduces his face to the pavement more often than I would like to admit to. I chalk it up to him being a little boy- after all, aren’t little boys made of bumps and bruises?

It’s a sad fact that one of the best pictures I have of my son is of him (barely 3 years old), sporting a great big smile… and a golf ball sized, angry red patch of road rash right smack-dab in the middle of his forehead.

Jack is what you might call top-heavy. Basically, that’s a nice way of saying his head is bigger- and thus, heavier- than most. As a consequence, it’s the first thing to connect when he decides he has been out of touch with the concrete for far too long.

Two days ago, he must have figured that his face really needed to get up close and personal with the gravel driveway that leads up to his preschool. I wasn’t there when it happened, but if the thumb-print size spot of dried blood on his hat is anything to go by, the introduction didn’t go too well.

It must have been a real doozy, too, because he was acting pretty concussed between the time I picked him up- which was about 30 minutes after it happened- and the time we seated ourselves in the doctor’s office. My normally sunny little boy was in a seriously crabby mood, and could hardly stay on his feet.

Basically, he was acting like a pint-sized angry drunkard.

The gash on his noggin- because my son doesn’t do anything by halves– was about 2cm long, and needed 2 Steri-Strips to close it. I actually asked the doctor to use proper stitches, because I’m well acquainted with my kids’ almost superhuman ability to separate things that shouldn’t be separated. He insisted on the Steri-Strips, though, saying that they- coupled with a bandage and some extra adhesive- “oughta do it”.

If it weren’t for the fact that he’s been our family doctor for a few years, I would almost think he has never met my children.

Indeed Jill, alone, could probably “unwrap” a box that has been covered entirely in duct tape. It might take her 10 or 15 minutes, but she’ll do it.

When we went back to the school to pick her up at the end of the day, my partner and I made a special effort to tell Jill about Jack’s “owie”, and why she shouldn’t touch the bandage on his head.

We went on at length about it.

We told her, over and over, not to touch the bandage.

Each time, she nodded and said: “Ok”.

What I think she actually meant was: “Challenge accepted.”

On Love

angry wifeIn the morning, I accomplish what often seems like an impossible feat. Somehow, though, it happens… and only the gods know how and why.

I get myself up at 5:30 every weekday morning. The fight is epic. Every bone and muscle in my body screams “Sleep more! Text the teacher and say your kids are sick! You want more sleep! You NEED more sleep!”

Also, I am beginning to think my bed is in cahoots with the pillows and blankets. At least, that is the best explanation I can come up with. Otherwise, why would the few minutes before the Alarm From Hell goes off be the time when I am at my most comfortable and toasty?

It’s a conspiracy, I tell you.

Anyway, somehow- as if by sheer will alone- I pry myself off my bed, out of the reach of my cozy blankets, and propel myself vaguely upright.

My partner, damn him, is still lying in bed. I rationalize that I shouldn’t be too pissed off at the fact that he gets out of bed much later than I do. I tell myself the he gets up later because he is an insomniac (due to his P.T.S.D), and the morning is often when he gets the best chance to sleep. I tell myself all kinds of things like this, but the fact is that- when I’m awake too early for my liking and still half asleep- I kind of hate the guy.

For a moment, every morning before I head out of the bedroom, I have this particular urge. My partner would like this urge to be the sort of urge that sees me pouncing on his sleeping form, waking him in a pleasant but not-so-gentle way, and having my way with him then and there, only to leave him exhausted enough afterwards to (hopefully) fall asleep.

No.

It’s not that kind of urge.

As I stand there in the dark on my side of the bed for those few moments, I think about quietly going over to his side. I would look lovingly down at him as he lay there quietly. Whether he is actually asleep, or lying there and wondering what the hell I am doing standing there and staring at him like a creepy stalker… I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, anyway.

I think about bending over him, just inches away from his head, with a slight smile on my face.

“HAVE A NICE FUCKING DAY!” I’d scream, suddenly.

He’d sit bolt upright in the bed, cursing and swearing and flailing, and I’d duck and dodge before dashing out into the hallway. The possible injuries, I rationalize, might even be worth it. I’d be awake at that ungodly hour, and he’d be awake to share in it; after all, misery does love company.

Instead, I quietly exit the bedroom and leave him to sleep. Love has a way of making resist these little homicidal urges; it’s a good thing I love that guy.