RECENT SURPRISES


(Originally posted August 6, 2017)


It must be true that you’re never too old to learn because my wife of many years keeps offering nearly daily suggestions on how I can do things better, which, of course, means doing them her way. In a recent discussion on what we were going to have for breakfast, Irene said she was going to make French toast.


I said, “Fine. I’ll slice some strawberries.”


I was then informed that I slice strawberries the wrong way. This was the first time in our 57 years of wedded bliss that she had alleged that I didn’t know beans about cutting strawberries.


“You slice them horizontally. They should be sliced vertically,” a familiar female voice said.


“What? What difference does it make?”


Millions, including me, are worried about what the lunatic running North Korea might do with all his weapons, but not Irene. She’s got her eye on the big picture—strawberries. I’m supposed to stand them upright and whack away rather than letting the little guys lie down and get comfortable before their world goes dark.


“They’re more attractive and bigger when they’re cut vertically,” Irene said, answering my question.


That was pretty close to the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard, but I gave a wimpy response, typical of men who have been married for a long time. 


“Ah, I see. I’m sorry I’ve made such a mess of our marriage by inept strawberry slicing and dicing. I’m such a loser.”


Because it was Mother’s Day, I went into a vertically-slicing mode and made a big production of it so Irene could see I was being a good boy. Who cares how strawberries look once they’re cut? You bought them to eat, not look at, right?


The French toast was delicious, and the strawberries, cut Irene’s way, tasted like good strawberries always do regardless of the skill or incompetence of the slicer. 


The discovery of my long inadequacy in the wide wide world of strawberries came shortly after another upsetting revelation about food, this one involving our two younger granddaughters, ages nine and 13. They had come over to have cake and ice cream on Irene’s birthday and were each served a thick slab of luscious chocolate cake.


After noticing that their ice cream was almost gone but the chocolate cake was virtually untouched, I was told “They don’t like cake.” There’s no need to re-read the last part of the sentence. It says what you think it says.


How can you not like cake? Was it, heaven forbid, sliced incorrectly? Kids not liking cabbage and spinach I can understand, but cake? The older of the two girls likes broccoli. Would she eat cake if it were green and hard to chew? 


Is this failure to appreciate the virtues of cake something else that can be blamed on eroding standards in the American education system? As a public service, grandpa ate pretty much all the cake on both their plates. You’re welcome.


Less than two weeks after Irene’s birthday, we went looking for a card for our son, Jack, who was turning 50. While trying to decide among the store’s selection of cards for 50-year-olds, Irene gushed, “Oh, wow. Look. They make 80th birthday cards.”


I gave her a dirty look and shook my head. “Ah, hello. Your husband is 80 later this year. Remember?”


“Oh, that’s right.”


I may not know my strawberries, but I sure know my greeting cards. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they make cards for 120-year-olds. If you live that long, I hope it doesn’t matter how you hold the card—horizontally or vertically.

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(Published in the Great South Bay Magazine July 2017.)

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