Hi, it’s Kate Flora here, musing on a topic of great concern to me, and perhaps to some of you, as we celebrate another summer. It’s all about how our favorite summer clothes have morphed into mysteriously tiny garments while in storage over the winter. I’d blame the heat, but it was a pretty warm winter.
While some might embrace with great delight the necessity to go shopping and acquire a nifty new wardrobe, while in our hearts secretly wishing that clothes sizing was like a countdown, with the the little gals starting at size 18, and the biggest sizes down there around 1 and 0. Or perhaps blast off? I’m trying to shop on what a writer makes, which means second-hand stores, and I’m a thrifty Yankee who believes that yes, we have our hats and we’re supposed to be “making do.” But making do in too-tight tee-shirts, sausage-casing dresses, and shorts and capris that won’t zip doesn’t do. And for this sad state of affairs, along with confessing to a sorry lack of will-power about getting to the gym, I blame my husband, Ken.
Don’t get me wrong. Ken is a lovely man. He’s attractive and generous and he makes me laugh. My life
would be much poorer without him. But I would also be thinner. Because my office is on a balcony that is open to the rest of the house, he is a semi-retired gentleman, and he needs to eat as often as a newborn. (He likes to compare himself to a bird, claiming that birds need to eat their own weight daily. Unless it’s a vole.) But whatever creature it is that the good man resembles, it involves many, many visits to the kitchen every day.
Thus, while I sit, disciplined and hungry, at my keyboard, the house is filled, early in the day, with the devastatingly scrumptious smell of cooking toast and the clink of spoon against cereal bowl. Midmorning, it’s coffee cake and grape juice. Perhaps, then, his head of silvery hair will appear around the edge of my door to inquire if there is anything for lunch. (I don’t fix it. I just give guidance.) Midafternoon will involve a lot of clatter and bang and refrigerator doors opening and closing, as second lunch takes place. Then there will be late afternoon snack and the query, “When is dinner?”
If I’m at home, it will be something healthy–broiled bluefish, low-carb noodles with roasted vegetables, and a salad. Baked chicken with a salad of couscous and roasted squash from Chloe’s Kitchen. If I’m going to be out at fine libraries and bookstores everywhere, it’s meatloaf and Martha Stewart’s mac and cheese, or oven-fried chicken and potato salad. But then, a few hours later, he needs another snack.
Have you ever tried to ignore the person beside you eating pretzels and raisins? At least it’s not cookies, which I cannot resist.
It’s not just the crunching of chips or pretzels, either. It’s the availability. He claims that when he met me, there were two things in my refrigerator: yogurt and lettuce. If I lived alone, it might well still be that way, supplemented by the ingredients of my favorite dinner–bourbon and popcorn. But instead, there are chips and pretzels, coffee cake and ice cream. Several different kinds of bread for the bread-loving man. Mango juice. Grape juice. Bagels and cream cheese. He’s afraid of the vegetable drawer, but the rest of the fridge could feed a family of five for a week.
We talk about diets. He says I need more exercise. I say I need to finish a book. He says exercise. I say that my best diet would be to send him away for a few weeks. He understands that this is not hostility. He goes on eating. He offers me a shopping spree when the ten pounds are lost.
When he contemplated retirement, I thought that I needed to fear for my writing rituals. I had had years of long hours of solitude, and now they were going to be shared by the person who reads the paper and says, “Listen to this?” Who wonders aloud whether its dry enough to mow the lawn. Who would like company on a walk. Who can’t find the spare batteries, lightbulbs, toilet paper, Tums, paper towels or toothpaste. Who thinks it would be a great idea to clean some closets. Right now. Or rearrange the garage, which is full of my books. Or who wants me to look at my calendar, so we can schedule some dinners with our friends.
Dinners? Friends? Walk? My head is full of the scene I am writing, or I’m just working out the careful balance of arranging where 250 pages of interviews will go and trying to learn to use Scrivener. I’m crafting the perfect dialogue. I am giving a hopeful writer advice on a new novel. I have not had breakfast and I’m resisting going downstairs where there is food.
And then I am undone by toast.
I can put on my Bose “husband-canceling” headphones. But what do I do for my nose?