It’s a constant series of negotiations

On September 15, 2011 by Eden M. Kennedy

My husband is kind, generous, flexible, hard-working, honest, deeply loyal, and a steadfast protector of everyone he cares about, and every day he works to become a better human being, husband, and father. But sometimes the way he expresses himself makes me want to poke him with a spork.

(Before we continue I would like to acknowledge that, given the motivation, Jack could make a long list of unfathomable things I say and do every day, but it appears that he has better things to do with his time.)

Here’s an example. The other night he was cooking dinner.

Me: “Fish and green beans just doesn’t seem like enough. Is it too late for me to make some sweet potato fries? . . . Oh, never mind, it would take a half hour and it’s already 7:00.”

Jack: “What the fuck do I care? You gotta be someplace?”

Now, this is Jack’s way of saying, Sweetheart, I’m not in any hurry, you go ahead and make whatever your heart desires and I’ll have a beer and wait until you’re ready before I start cooking the fish. But then I remembered I was living with the bastard child of W. C. Fields and Sam Peckinpah.

So I made the sweet potato fries, and when they were just about done, Jack put the fish on.

Jack (admiring his work): “That looks pretty fucking good.”

Me: (shouting) “I HOPE IT STAYS DOWN!”

I’ve learned, over time, that instead of being offended by Jack’s — let’s call it aggressive solicitude — I’ve found that countering it with brutal honesty, spoken with comically elevated intensity and volume, lets me avoid feeling like I’ve been run over by a Brooklyn-bound F train. (Note: it doesn’t work if I’m actually upset, because then I just sound mean and it turns into a fight, so if my feelings have been hurt I say, “Thanks a lot, Sarcasmo,” and he says, “What? I was joking!” and I say, “Oh, I see, it was a joke that didn’t contain any actual humor,” and he says, “I think you need something to eat,” and I say, “THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.”) So there’s no eye rolling involved, nor is there smarminess. Think less Tim Gunn and more Lee Van Cleef.

What was I talking about?

(And yes, those are 8-ounce filets of escolar wrapped in bacon and being fried in butter, because we win at eating paleo. This was easily a week’s worth of fat and protein for the average adult. But even with some green beans and slivered almonds on the side, it just didn’t seem like enough to me. Thirty minutes later, when I developed gout and burst out of my jeans, I remembered that I don’t actually have to eat everything on my plate and that leftovers are a wonderful thing.)

Anyway, Jack and I often get oddly pleased with ourselves when we have these exchanges, maybe because, as two people who grew up with a fair amount of domestic conflict, it feels great to have (weird but) honest confrontations that wind up with civilized outcomes. But I can’t imagine what we’re teaching Jackson when we talk to each other this way. Maybe we’re teaching him to listen for the subtle shifts between giving someone shit / speaking the truth / slipping into conjugal despair? In the past, when Jack and I have actually argued with each other, Jackson has yelled from his room, “Stop bickering, you two!” The boy can make us laugh out loud with his shrewd observations on our weaknesses, so best case scenario he’s learning to tell it like it is. (Worst case, he’s going to need a really, really tough girlfriend.)

Oh yeah, you need some mushrooms on that.



28 Responses to “It’s a constant series of negotiations”

  • Geez, Louise. Holy pile o’ nuts! Those almonds are accenting the green beans, the green beans are accenting the almonds!

  • Aren’t. The almonds aren’t accenting the green beans.

  • Holy. Crap. Recipe, pls!

    I feel like I should comment on the rest of the post re: communication, but I can’t formulate any coherent thoughts after looking at that deliciousness.

  • You are not allowed to mention escolar without telling people the dangers of eating escolar. I … I have friends who … have been traumatized. We have to protect those who remain unscathed. We have to let them keep the innocence that I–I mean, my FRIEND–has lost and will never, ever get back.

    • I’m so sorry, I should have put a warning at the top that said “This post may trigger those with escolar trauma, read at your own risk.”

      • oh jesus christ, I just googled Escolar and read about wax esters. whyyyyyyyyy would you eat something that risked that?? Ugh, pardon me while I go have sympathy diarrhea.

        • I actually had no idea about people having these reactions until today. The only other time I’ve had escolar is as sushi. No problem either time, so yay for my digestive system.

      • I think it’s really cool that you can actually eat escolar. I haven’t met anyone, yet, who hasn’t had a rather hilariously shocking time with it. And I bet the sweet potato fries were fantastic. Have I mentioned lately that you take really good food pictures? Excuse me while I faint from low blood sugar, that looks so good.

  • Do you ever have one of those fights where you know you aren’t actually mad but you just sort of yell in this ritualized way in order to get some energy out?

    I like those fights.

    Someone should categorize them all–the little flash in the pan, the blood sugar tussle, etc.

  • My favourite part of this was where you “developed gout and burst out of your jeans”……………I needed that. Thank you.

  • Never heard of keriorrhea either until you made this post.

    “the bastard child of W. C. Fields and Sam Peckinpah.” E.M.K
    “Start every day off with a smile and get it over with. ” W.C.F

  • Due to the comments I had to google the side effects. As a general rule I try to avoid eating anything that can cause anal leakage. It did mention that grilling can minimize the side effects so it is possible that Jack saved you from such indignities. Yea Jack!

  • While everyone else was reeling from the effects of the escolar or Tom Peckinpaw and WC Fields I could only think of the popcorn whisperer at the top right. Yes, you had me at popcorn.

  • I had no idea about the escolar, either! But I refuse to google it. You know what you should do next time? Wrap each individual green bean in bacon.

  • Well, these comments are not making me want to Google the side effects of escolar. I’d rather eat it naively, ignorant of any possible side effects.

  • Paleo pictures are like porn for me.

  • You don’t know me from……well, from anybody else… but I have this to say: your writing has always been good but now it is spectacular!* Go, Mrs Kennedy!

    *I have a degree and 3/4 of another degree in English so I know whereof I speak.


  • OHNNNnnhhhhhhhh. (making that sound guys make when they pass a girl with enormous…. qualifications….); I really need that recipe OH YES. And perhaps a garden, since nothing at any store I visit looks close to those beans.

    E, I must say: It could be worse. He could be the bastard child of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mr. Miyagi, which is what I get. Which means if I actually GET the original intention of my Korean-born husband, it is only after wading through gramatical contradictions, accent and THEN the pissed off YAAAArrrh! ::hands thrown up in disgust::. And then the next minute we’re all good. “??”.

    Good news: We’ve no children and you have an exceptionally smart one : )

  • So the ranch dressing to dip the fires in is just to the right of the image? No? Left then?

  • And I was so looking forward to trying escolar.

  • First of all, that looks really effing delicious. I would love to have the time to make something that both looks that pretty and tastes as good as I know that did.

    Secondly, the way you guys talk reminds me of the family from Easy A. I watched that movie and thought, “That’s how all families should be. Then there would never be anger or wars.”