Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rooster in the kitchen?

We've all heard the saying, "Too many hens in the hen house," but is there an equivalent if the second "hen" is actually a rooster?

I have a friend, let's call her Regina Phalange. Regina's husband, Ken Adams, is a very caring and wonderful husband. She loves him with all of her heart, end of story.

Regina and Ken both have some interesting personality quirks. Too many, in fact, to count or list in any cohesive fashion. But relevant to this story are the following quirks: Regina is funny about food in general. Her general dislike for food has made simple every-day chores such as doing the dishes a challenge. She has learned to overcome her eccentricities by wearing rubber gloves and powering through. Ken is self-admittedly O.C.D., and has certain passions whose only purpose seems to be to make Regina's life difficult.

One day, Regina was in the kitchen, innocently loading the dishwasher. Ken came in and brushed her aside, nastily saying, "Let me do that!" Well, it irritated Regina to be brushed aside like that, not to mention the implicit accusation of being incapable of doing a simple task like loading a dishwasher. But due to her aforementioned personality quirk involving dirty dishes, she made the conscious choice to set aside her annoyance and consider Ken's behavior a blessing. What could it hurt, right?

Famous last words. Poor Regina noticed that Ken's behavior was gradually starting to worsen. He started cooking more. He started stocking the pantry, regardless of the expense. He claimed he liked getting groceries, so he'll just pick up what we need, no need for Regina to stop at the store.

Overnight, Ken's O.C.D. behavior spiraled out of control. He let the dishes stack up (of course Regina refused to help out after that first brush aside, which was actually followed by a few more brush-offs. He dug his own grave, she figured). When he finally got around to washing dishes, he would do them all. But, he would wait until late at night after Regina had gone to sleep. Ken would then tell her the next day, "I stayed up late and washed all the dishes last night," obviously trying to make her feel guilty. "But it's what you wanted," she reasoned. No answer from Ken.

More fuel for the fire: Ken would say, "I bought this, this, and this for our pantry because we didn't have it." Regina took from that: "Regina, you don't know how to shop." Truthfully, Ken has her on eggshells about money, so again: you dug your own grave, Ken! That's another story.

But the continual theme that started getting more and more pronounced was how Ken would hold everything over Regina's head like an accusation: "Regina is too lazy to help out."

Regina had a problem with Ken's behavior from the very first time he brushed her away from the dishwasher, but at first the isolated incidents were seen as "cute." Surely, isn't this what every woman dreams of? Having a wonderful husband like Ken that is interested in cooking? Perhaps so, perhaps no, but everything changed the night Monica, Chandler and Joey came over to visit.

Ken made a homemade meal that he was very proud to share with everyone. Unfortunately, it wasn't to Regina's palate, so she decided she would make something else for herself. While preparing his meal, Ken had used a lot of dishes (plus they had been stacking up anyway), so Regina started washing a pot for herself to make her dinner. Everyone was in the kitchen, and Ken came up beside Regina and practically shoved her aside! He said, "Just tell me what you want washed and I'll do it."

Regina was embarrassed almost to tears by his condescending, patronizing, egotistical attitude. Her wonderful, caring, Mr. Mom husband was suddenly being nothing more than a bully. Worse, there was an audience to witness his confounding behavior! Holding back her tears, Regina considered her options carefully and settled on the only logical choice: she made a huge scene in front of everyone. Regina stomped around the kitchen getting everything ready for her own meal, she lectured Ken in front of their guests, and refused to look at him or acknowledge his futile apologies. Ha, refusing to look at him turned out better than she thought it would because Ken washed the wrong pot. So in the end, Regina was appeased because he dug his own grave again.

But what should my friend Regina do? Clearly Ken needs to be set straight about acceptable behavior of roosters, but he is too busy cock-a-doodle-doing in her kitchen to see how his displacement has upset her. Regina told me that she and Ken have already spoken about this, sometimes rationally, sometimes not, but either way: he doesn't get it.

Ooh, one more detail: Regina has made it abundantly clear in no uncertain terms that hosting a holiday dinner is a pleasure and a rite of womanhood that she enjoys and needs. She even made a stink because in the past she has always hosted Thanksgiving, but currently Ken's brother hosts it and he is unwilling to give it up or "share" the holiday. So Regina will be hosting Christmas instead, and she has been planning the meal and decorating the house for weeks (of course, Ken hasn't noticed this beyond a forced/prompted comment of: "It looks nice").

What he did do is go behind Regina's back and discuss the meal with his mother. Ken and his mommy made decisions regarding the entrees that will be served, and Regina found out only after-the-fact and by accident.

So she did what any woman would do in the same situation: she flew off the handle, went off the deep end. Wholly, completely, unapologetically.

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