I seldom receive gifts and when I do, my heart does a hippity hop. Wrapped gifts transform me into a thrilled little child, excited to discover what’s inside. Last night, the Captain’s friend visited our home and gave me a gift. I wanted to unwrap it there and then but a bigger problem loomed before me.
What do I serve our guest? I finally have my first official house guest and he, of all people, happens to have a professional cousin-chef whom he eats with often. All my boiling and frying skills fled away to inferiority land.
The Captain pleaded I cook something. I wanted to. My brain wanted to. But I stood in our kitchen frozen, my cooking hands unwilling to move. In a split second I wanted to undo things. I wanted to go back and not be a wife. In that moment I realized if the world judges a wife according to her ability to cook, I was willing to resign. I know, I know. I’m a girl. I’m a wife. I should know how to cook. I am learning, believe me. For the past weeks I had fed my husband with food mixed and stirred over our mini electric burner (hint that this newly wed does not have a cooking stove yet).
I am a fast learner, especially if my heart is into it. I learned how to drive in a flash. One afternoon, my uncle Bart placed me behind the wheel of his jeepney and 3-4 hours later I was driving it home on public highway. I learned how to bike, skate and roller blade in less than an hour. I learned football in a month. I learned Photoshop and inDesign in a day. I learned Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper in a minute. I learn that fast.
I have been taught that if you do something, anything, do it with joy in your heart. I play happy music in the kitchen. I sing, I dance while chopping. I put all my heart in my corn oil, onions, garlic, salt and pepper and I wait. But the joy doesn’t come. I find more fun and love in scrubbing toilet bowls than making a meal. Seriously.
People who love to create dishes amaze me. I taste and smell the aroma of their passion. If there was a curse on cooking, maybe at my birth the evil fairy dumped all the curse dust on me.
A day ago, I stayed up all night meticulously ironing my husband’s work clothes. In the morning he asked me why I had to work hard on that when it was cheaper and more convenient to just bring the shirts to the laundry shop for ironing. I wanted to tell him ironing was a wifely duty I can do and I’m good at. My strange happiness in sewing buttons and armpit holes and my brilliance in ironing compensates my failure as a cook. I find joy in flattening wrinkled shirts.
I ended up serving our house guest french fries. The Captain, frustrated that I had a cooking-stroke that night, called Pizza Hut to save us. I am just thankful his friend is a kind and understanding gentleman.
This is his gift to me, an unfair exchange for my oily french fries.
I see cooking as a necessity but more as an art of creation. It is a wonderful gift like singing and dancing. It is a gift wrapped and given to blessed people.
It is a gift I did not receive.