Wooed by Smoke and Flame

I’m married to the grill master of my dreams. We’re having beautiful weather here, and Realm has been grilling out once a week. He’s a charcoal grill connoisseur. We tried gas once. The flavor’s not the same.

By Brian Chu (Own work) [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
My favorite cologne for Realm is eau de Grill. I can smell it in his hair when he walks in from the porch. Some people sniff markers and glue; I tiptoe up to my husband and breathe in smoky bliss. He thinks it’s funny. I think it’s delicious.

He cooks steak to perfection…and herbed salmon, honey Italian marinated chicken, shish kabob—Oh! Shish kabob with garlic and onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and tomatoes is my favorite! I eat up all the cloves of garlic and onions before they reach the table. (My scent is eau de Halitosis.)

Of course, there’s the occasional burnt fare. Realm hates when this happens. I lurve it! The only thing better than grilled meat is charred grilled meat! I’m not saying I want ash here, but a burger that’s blackened is so yummy.

Realm and I just celebrated our 18th anniversary. Our marriage is an adult now. I’m very much in love with him. I think one secret to a happy 18 years is having a husband who knows how to woo his wife long after the “I do.” I like flowers. I like chocolate. But there is nothing like, “Honey, I cooked dinner.”

“Fat.” There, I Said It.

I have two copies of the first book in The Bobbsey Twins series. One is a 1961 edition, and the other is from 1989. My kids and I found, while reading along with these two versions, that an adjective from the nicknames of the youngest set of Bobbsey twins had been removed. Flossie is nicknamed “my fat little fairy” by her father, and Fred has the loving epitaph, “fat little fireman.” “Fat” was completely missing in the 1989 version.

“The Bobbsey twins were very busy that morning. They were all seated around the dining-room table, making houses and furnishing them…” By Carla Pettigrew Hufstedler [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
After the kids and I discovered this, we had a good laugh. The connotation of “fat” in the U.S. is much different from its harmless meaning fifty years ago. How about centuries ago? Wasn’t fatness a desired quality during the Renaissance? One risked being considered impoverished and easily susceptible to disease without a healthy display of bulk.

My kids are slender. They are all good eaters, but I have a child who tends to lose weight easily when she’s sick. I’m always trying to plump her up with cheese and spoonfuls of peanut butter. She often requests to melt the peanut butter with chocolate chips. That works for me.

Sometimes she will ask me if a food she enjoys will help her get fat.

“Mom, are these Kippers good for making me fat?”

“Mom, can we get those Little Debbie domino brownies at the store?”

I can’t stand those.

She knows it, so she adds, “I think they will help me get fat.”

In our fat-phobic society, a nickname like “my fat little fairy” or “my fat little fireman” is tottering on abusive language. If you use a similar phrase as a term of endearment, you might be blamed for your child’s years of therapy. So, don’t do that. Just stick to something noncommittal, like “nice” or “sweet.”

What about using “fat” as a writer? Do you find you avoid certain words and phrases merely because they could be offensive to that reader whose pet pug is going to need a dog whisperer because you didn’t think anything of naming your main character’s dog Pudgy Purple Pug? Or have you ever wondered what harmless adjectives, names, or even ideals might be offensive in later years?

No, never.

I don’t either. Not at all.

When Realm Calls

I am not a phone person. If I’m on the phone, I want to be relaying information. Realm, on the other hand, used to call like this:

from stock exchange member Otjep. www.freeimages.com/profile/otjep
from Stock Exchange member Otjep

“Heeeeeyyyy, it’s me……… What’s going on?”

It took about three minutes, give or take a few seconds, for him to say it. It was approximately three minutes of my life put on hold. It drove me crazy. I couldn’t understand why anyone would call just to ask what’s going on…and talk soooo sloooowly. I mean, doesn’t everyone call because there’s something going on, and that something needs to be told to the other person? You know, things like,

“I’ve lost my wallet.”
“I’m stuck in traffic, and I’ll be late getting home.”
“You haven’t forgotten about the people coming over for dinner tonight, have you?”

But who is this—this “what’s going on” person?

I answered him in that vein. “What’s going on? What’s going on?! I’m being driven crazy by your children; that’s what’s going on! I’ve been trying to give the same spelling test to your daughter for 30 minutes, and there are only fifteen words! Your son made ten careless math mistakes because he won’t show his work! I just refereed a fight in the kitchen about whose turn it is to load the dishwasher because everyone is positive it’s not theirs—and we can’t remember who unloaded last. I need a chart. I’d like one that says: ‘Your mother is on strike. Pretend you are an adult for ten minutes and get your own lunch!’ I have clumps of bread dough sitting all over the kitchen because I’m trying to find a warm spot; I think the yeast is a dud. And there is yet another oil stain on the front of your polo that refuses to come out. No joke, it vaguely resembles the Mickey Mouse logo. Oh, and don’t get me started on what to do about supper tonight!”

Later, we sat down and talked about the frustration I felt when he called like that. That’s when I realized what “what’s going on” really means. It means, “I miss you. I miss the kids. I’m not there with you, and I know I’m missing out on everything. I want to be home. I want to be part of what’s going on there. So tell me. Tell me what I’m missing while I trade my time and my skills for a paycheck that keeps our family fed, clothed, and warmly protected.”

That’s when I got it. That’s when I realized I don’t need to be a phone person to say, “Let me tell you about the discussion we had after our Bible reading this morning,” or “Your daughter is hilarious! You should have heard what she said at lunch…” or just, “Sweetheart, this day is out of control, and this is why…”

It doesn’t mean I’ve figured out what to make for supper, or that Realm won’t be sporting Mickey Mouse ears across his abdomen. It means he’s part of the fiasco.

The Fairy Pearl

The Fairy Pearl had lost her step;
The path was overgrown.
The land she’d called her own for years
Had changed, was now unknown.
And hearts so dear had flown from here
And left her all alone.

Her body beat the dance of earth,
Her mind held tight to thought.
She dressed and combed her whitened hair,
From habit not forgot.
Her pale, fair skin grew loose and thin,
Her wit and ways did not.

In dreams she saw the morning dawn
And grew impatient then.
She could not charm the time away,
So long here had she been.
And so did she, so carefully,
Recount her past again.

She waited for the day to set,
The dusk to close her eyes,
The moon to bear her tattered threads
To unseen, distant skies.
For night brings day that souls await
With ageless, longing eyes.

With wings unfurled like birds of flight,
She took her last adieu.
Her eyes of blue, so quick and bright,
They lost their mortal hue.
With eyes she sees—not eyes like these—
Her God and friends anew.

For my grandmother, Margaret. (Her name means “Pearl.”)