Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Gig's Up

I have a reputation in this neighborhood for cooking for my puppies, more so than for my husband. Everyone in this neighborhood knows my puppies get home-baked dog treats and elaborate meals with cooked meat scraps drenched in chicken-broth and beef-gravy condiments.

And the other thing I need to tell you is that over the years I have developed relationships with my neighbors that vary from one to another. Some neighbors are as informal when they visit as my own family. They drop in unannounced, anytime of the day. And if we happen to be eating, and I’m still cooking, I throw on an extra plate and add some speedy thing to the menu like toast, hot-dogs, macaroni, or something from a tin. Whatever happens, whatever the case, we so solidly understand each other that there is no reason for me to be anxious even if the toast burns, the fudge doesn’t harden properly, the macaroni is welded together into one big dumpling and the cake is doughy in the center. (P.S. I have the odd cooking failure as everyone does but I exaggerate here just so you’ll readily realize how much at ease we are with each other).

But at the same time, I have other neighbors descended from a more formal clan. And those neighbors wouldn’t dream of stopping by unannounced although I see them slowly driving by and looking at vehicles in my driveway and envying those who do. They are so curious in fact, that sometimes they phone just to ask who was visiting. And I can hear the disgruntled huff when I tell them one of my informal neighbors dropped in unannounced.

That is how it is and always has been so I was surprised last week when formal neighbors who for thirty years have never come for a visit unannounced, drove into my yard. Formal neighbors that are so pained by the overt audacity of my informal neighbors that in all these years they have refused to befriend them and if forced to speak to them only do with chilly rigid civility. But now into my driveway comes Formal Husband (FH) and Formal Wife (FW) – unannounced. The same FW that complained to me for years about how rude and improper it was of her sister-in-law and mother-in-law to stop in unannounced.

Now some days Hub and I have rather late suppers and it just so happened when this couple arrived, although I hadn’t yet set the table, we were just about to sit down and eat. Seeing the pots on the stove, the wife apologized profusely for interrupting our evening meal and insisted that we ignore her and her husband and go ahead and eat. They had eaten in town and were just on their way home when they decided to stop in. So I did exactly as she suggested. Put on our supper and poured them coffee to sip while we ate.

Now like anyone else, some supper’s are a slammed together mish-mash of whatever is in the fridge, other times – not. Tonight’s supper happened, by chance, to be grilled steaks, mashed potatoes, steamed carrots and salad. Dished up, it was an attractive meal.

So we visited for a few hours and after our company left, Hub said with a grin, “Woman, you do me proud. I was happy to see you had made such a delightful supper. One that showed that you spare no effort to ensure we eat well. I could see she (the wife) was impressed and he (the husband) was probably thinking if she cooked like that he wouldn’t be going out to a crummy restaurant.”

I laughed and said to Hub. “It wouldn’t have mattered if we were having hot dogs and pan-fried left-over macaroni (which happens to be very good with a dollop of sour cream or stewed tomatoes), ‘cause I already had a back-up plan.”

“Oh, and what was the plan?”

“These neighbors know as well as any of our neighbors how much time I spend cooking for my puppies. So if the menu had been some less-than-appetizing mish-mash of leftovers I would have just dumped ‘your supper’ in the doggie’s dish and said, ‘Oh, that stuff wasn’t for us…that was for the dogs.”

Unfortunately, Hub is not always quick at recognizing my intent. I can just see me dumping Hub’s supper in Dough-Gee’s dish and then Hub sitting there staring at the dog, stomach rumbling and real tears flowing down his face, while Dough-Gee cleaned up the dish. And then, of course, the gig would be up, and the neighbors would know it was a put on and we’d all feel bloody uncomfortable.


Matty said...

I swear we must be sisters, or pretty damn close. I have always cooked for my dogs. I remember friends of my sons dropping in on Sunday, while I'm cooking liver and bacon.
"Wow, your sons are spoiled" one friend said.
I said, "Oh no, the bacon is for me, the liver is for the dogs".
I used to fry the liver....now I dice it,,drop it in boiling water for a few minutes,,drain,,lay on baking sheets,,,,sprinkle with garlic powder, which they love, and bake, then freeze baggies of diced liver. That's their treats. I also make cheddar treats., or hotdog coins in the microwave.

I put peanut butter in their Kongs and use doggie biscuits as a stopper which gives them hours of fun.
I refuse to eat fat, I gag on it, so when I trim the pork chops or steaks with meat attached, I have to fry the meat for the dog...everyone thinks I'm weird...because I just don't throw the raw scraps in his dish. And a little bit of gravy doesn't hurt.

Roberta, I'm the same way, nephews and family drop by or cousins,or down to earth people like me... and its, 'grab a plate, serve yourself, nothing fancy'.

I had to laugh! Men just don't get it...I could just see Hub's face if his supper went into the dog's dish! I would have done the same as you,,,,,especially on Friday night when we have 'Grab Nite', and its a mish-mash of whatever is leftover from the week!

Once a week, I go all out,,the salad,,,wine glasses for all of us,,Chardonnay for me, and ginger ale for the grandkids...candle's....the kid's love it..my granddaughter loves to set the table with the proper tablecloth and napkins and yes, I take pics of the food before they get a chance to suck it down. Like the Japanese say, we eat with our eye's before our mouths,,,,so for me,,,plating the food is important.
I would just love to be a fly on the wall of the 'formal drop-ins' when they drove home!
Oh, and nothing like left over macaroni, I love mine fried up!

Weird, but men would feel comfortable having fried bologna sandwiches or hotdogs and beans with company dropping in.

I will start posting pics one of these days when I have time.

I find it wonderful after all these years that your Hub can give you compliments when you 'do him proud'.
My hub don't care if it's fettuccine alfredo or mac and cheese, as long as I made plenty!I swear he has no taste buds.
A little compliment can go a long way!

Roberta S said...

matty, my apologies for taking so long to respond. Been a bit side-tracked lately.

You make me chuckle as you so often do. I'm glad to hear your puppies get that extra special bit of attention. So nice to hear.

And like you I still really enjoy special meals done up with style. It's crazy but even though Hub and I live alone I still put everything in serving bowls (even pickles, apple sauce, etc) while debating in my mind which serving bowls will look most attractive. Probably I'd have forgone that years ago if I didn't have a dishwasher.

Hub enjoys his food, always has, and even after so many years he doesn't hesitate to let me know when he is pleased. I'll accept those compliments with greater appreciation after reading your comments.