I’m watching my wife cook. She’s frying okra in an iron skillet. A dog lies in my lap. The television is playing. My life ain’t bad.
Three’s Company is on. I don’t care for Three’s Company.
“Turn it up,” my wife says.
She likes this show. I don’t know what she sees in it. I’ve never cared for the trials and tribulations of Jack Tripper. I’m an Andy-Griffith man, myself.
John Ritter is no Andy Taylor.
Anyway, cooking. This is what my wife does. It’s how she’s put together. If you’ve never met her, there are only two things you should know about her:
1. she talks with a loud voice.
2. don’t ever touch her plate.
On our honeymoon, we went to a greasy burger joint in Charleston, South Carolina. It was the kind of place with a jukebox, and burgers so thick they cause cardiologists to recite the Twenty-Third Psalm.
I made a serious attempt to steal an onion ring from my wife’s basket. It was the first and only time I ever attempted such an act. And even though it happened long ago, I never regained mobility in my left hand.
Food, you see, is important to her. It’s what she does.
I’m not saying she’s a hobbyist. I’m saying that when we first met, she’d already completed culinary school with flying colors and worked in a kitchen. She doled out orders, stocked inventory, and balanced budgets.
A “chef de cuisine” is what they’re called. She knew all there was to know about beurre blancs, chèvre cheese, semi-rigid emulsions, and beef bourguignon.
When we were dating, she cooked supper a lot. On one such occasion, she asked what I wanted for supper.
I really wanted to impress her with worldly culinary wisdom. I felt it important to appear to be a man of sophistication when courting a woman with refined tastes.
I almost suggested “cuisses de grenouilles,” but couldn’t figure out if this dish paired well with Miller Lite. So instead, I said to her: “Can you make Kentucky Fried Chicken?”
She didn’t even blink. She floured up her mother’s counter. We’re talking chicken batter made from scratch, creamed corn, grits, and sliced raw tomatoes.
And a chicken good enough to make even the staunchest Baptist take the name of Andy Griffith in vain.
I’ve never loved another woman.
I’ll cut straight to the chase for those of you who don’t want to read any further. I love her. A lot. She’s not like other people. She’s outgoing, opinionated, outspoken at times, and magnificent.
When she smiles, I see her. Fifty thousand generations of lower Alabama jump out of her eyes. Her left eye closes more than her right one. I love that.
She likes animals, stories, butter, anything spicy, sleeping late, cold beer, and SEC football. She has worn the same pair of pajamas since I met her—almost sixteen years ago. And the same hairstyle.
She doesn’t often wear makeup—she doesn’t need to. She isn’t worried about calories—there are more important things to worry about.
And she is strong enough to make a common redhead believe that he can do things. Things like writing.
I would have never started my writing career if it weren’t for her. She’s the one who helped me be me.
Whenever I tell her this, she only answers with: “You give me too much credit. I didn’t do anything.”
Yes you did, Jamie.
You told me I was somebody. And you cooked my chicken in a skillet. And I am me because of you.
So I’m watching her work at the stove right now. She has no idea I’m writing this. My bloodhound is on my lap, a TV is blaring.
And life is so short. It’s shorter than people think. I’m no fool. Life is an evaporating fog. One day we’ll be apart, and one of us will miss the other so bad it will feel worse than dying.
But that day is not today.
No, today is now. And it’s ours. And I want this woman to know, today, that I’m with her, and I’m glad she’s with me.
Even though she watches Three’s Company.