Last Wednesday night the fridge at our house looked like pre- Subway Jared had been a houseguest for a week. The pickings were not just slim, they were positively anorexic. There was a few curling dried out ham slices in the misnomered “Meat Saver” drawer, an unopened bag of “Jumbo Red Radishes”(apparently labeled thus for colour blind consumers), two cracked eggs, hopelessly glued to the carton, and nine kinds of salad dressings. Unfortunately there wasn’t an edible green in sight, although Alexander Fleming might have disagreed.
Even the pantry shelves were looking a little bare. There were the usual 100 ounce cans of whole peeled tomatoes, ground peeled tomatoes, and tropical fruit cocktail with papaya that nobody likes, and a ten pound bag of pancake mix that you just add water to, just in case thirty people drop in unexpectedly for breakfast, but not much else.
It was apparently time to put the household duties on the table for renegotiation again. Someone around here had definitely decided to work to rule. Either that or he was honoring some kind of retired guys’ embargo of No Frills (or “No Thrills” as he calls it) that I was unaware of.
Despite the fact that I was already doing a slow burn, I decided I could sure go for a good hot bowl of soup. Right now even a warm one would be “asseptible” as Super Nanny would say. Then maybe I’d like to follow that up with a nice homemade roast beef dinner “Just Like Mom’s”.
I wedged my Interac card and two rolls of nickels snugly into my pants’ pocket. Where the nickels at our house come from I have no idea, as my husband and I are both “plastic people” but the waitresses appreciate my rolls. After all, a tip is a tip.
We headed down to the local truck stop, a popular place frequented by neighbouring farmers, gravel pit workers and Hydro crew guys. The food there is always great. The grey tiled floor is always littered with clods of dirt and gravel, and stray bits of straw and manure, but the bleachy smell of the tables boosts diners’ confidence in the state of hygiene in the kitchen. It also mercifully desensitizes the noses of any whose booth-mate is wearing “You Go Bossy” cologne.
The waitresses there are fast too, which is something the farmers all like. “Fast, in a good way.” they tell their wives.
After I gave the waitress my order my husband asked for “a double bacon-cheeseburger, fries with gravy, deep fried mozza sticks, and a milkshake.”….“And, oh yeah, a salad. I need my greens”. A minute or two after her departure, Rolly (and yes, that really is his name and he doesn’t have an extra pound or a roll on him) remembered that he hadn’t told her that he wanted a strawberry milkshake, or ordered his “complimentary dessert”.
“That’s O.K., she’ll be by in a minute or two and you can tell her then” I said, and just then she appeared with his milkshake in one hand and my glass of water in the other. “Is there any chance that that’s a strawberry milkshake?” I asked.
“No, sorry Hon. It’s chocolate. Did you want strawberry?”
“No, No, that’s O.K. I’ll have the chocolate one, and could we order another one, but a strawberry one please?” I asked.
“Just doing my wifely duty;” I said to myself “Jenny Craig, eat your heart out! The diet can wait until tomorrow!” Meanwhile I was trying my utmost to keep from looking at the enormous girth of a young guy who had disembarked from one of the many gravel trucks parked just outside the window as he sauntered in wearing a tee-shirt that read “My Life Is The Pits!”
For the next few minutes my dear husband and I reveled rapturously in our wedded bliss, while mutually enjoying a thorough read of the paper place mats printed up with ads promoting local businesses. “Look at this one here” Rolly said, “for the funeral home…and this one for the pharmacy”
“Yeah, that’s funny. If you get sick from the food you can go to the drug store for some Pepto Bismol, and if you die you can just call the funeral home.”
“Not very good for business” Rolly said, and then laughed out a good belch.
“Look at this one for the denture clinic, just in case you break off one of your teeth while eating your salad, like on a hard piece of carrot, or a rock or something.”
“ In the salad? How would it get into the salad?’’ Rolly asked.
“I don’t know. You got any rocks in your pocket?” I asked just as the waitress leaned over my shoulder with the soup.
“She heard you, you know!” Rolly said mock seriously after she left. “Now we’ll never be allowed to eat here again.”
“Don’t be silly” I laughed, my face heating up (from the steaming soup).
We continued on with our meal, eating and laughing and putting the day’s stresses and cares behind us. “You know what?” I said, “I feel a lot more like doing something, now that I’ve had something to eat. I’ve got my energy back. Do you want to do something after?” I asked, thinking that maybe a romantic movie or a walk in the park would be nice.
“Sure.” Rolly said. “Let’s go get the grocery shopping done. And then I want to go to Home Depot for a new wax sealing ring for the toilet. It’s leaking again. If we really hurry we can get back before “Survivors” starts.”
After 44 years of marriage I think I really understand a lot more than most people do about “Survivors”. I leaned forward and put my rolls on the table as I whispered “Four dollars, that should be about right for a tip, don’t you think Honey?”
“Sure… unless you want to kick me over a nice big piece of gravel to leave in my salad bowl”.
“Now, that sounds like a plan, Partner.” I said, as we got up to leave. ”