posttrib
PICTURESQUE 
Weather Updates

Men try to carve out a role in the kitchen, usually just get burned

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

storyidforme: 45301458
tmspicid: 932537
fileheaderid: 613598

Updated: April 11, 2013 6:05AM



Some years back, I began a column like this: “In the autumn of my life … ”

Where has my autumn gone, I wonder, here in the chill winter of my life?

Where do the seasons go, when it is their time? They just wait, I reckon, knowing that their turn will come — it goes on and on, even if we don’t, which suggests it all is organized well. And it is dependable.

It comes and goes whether we are here or not, which may deflate some of us who think we are hot stuff. But we should be glad, because the same great rainbows and sunsets were here waiting for us when we arrived through no fault of our own.

Well, the great spirit that set it all in motion may be laughing, or at least grinning, when he sees how we human persons handle our lives, like, for example, in the kitchen, source of miracles, scorched knuckles and delightful aromas.

In that far away time in rural America, a woman’s place was in the home, and the man’s place was in the fields or somewhere out there in the barn. It was a division of labor that worked, especially for the men, but I remember that some women helped do the milking and other duties that proved they are more versatile than fellows.

In my incredibly wise and observant place called old age, I notice that men are invading the kitchens and women are working outside the home. Whose fault is that? We guys mean well, but boy we are slow learners.

Now, if our mates are ailing, just tired or unselfishly letting us learn the facts of life in our kitchens and laundry rooms, we aging guys are busy pushing knobs, talking to the microwaves and tightening our apron strings. They want us to be happy in our retirement.

We do not take criticism well. Actually we are sensitive, and men have been that way since the famous rib incident back there in the beginning.

In the newer beginning, a few years back when Mrs. V went out and bought a spiffy new hip, I gallantly stepped in and pretended I was wearing a chef’s outfit. I found a blob of something in the fridge freezer that had been there too long — I threw it out, judicially avoiding even mentioning it. In the Dumpster it just lay there, dead to the world.

I did only fairly well with the washing machine stuff, but gee whiz, I am an intellectual, not well acquainted with menial work. The dryer went wild and left a scorched piece of lingerie that I sneakily threw out. I hope she is not still looking for it, because that was quite a spell ago.

I am doing some of those duties again, just to demonstrate my amazing versatility around the house. That is why I have not fixed a leaky faucet and do not have time to buy a new mop. Who would use the mop, I wonder.

Reminiscing about household duties and remembering with pride the way I happily confront new responsibilities is good for my aging soul.

But when I stroll through the supermarket and see folks lining up to buy cole slaw and the whole caboodle of ready-to-eat stuff, and the miles of frozen dinners, etc., I feel a bit sad. People don’t cook as much as they did in times gone by.

Some folks just don’t eat at home as often as they did years ago. They eat out. We do that a bit, too, but only because friends invite us and we do not want to hurt their feelings.

Back home, when Americans gathered around the table and actually talked to one another, eating out was a luxurious, infrequent reality.

In those days, man knew his place and wives often said “Stay out of my kitchen!” And man was obedient. He does not hear that much anymore.

Excuse me, the dryer is making a funny noise, and I don’t remember what to do next.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.