Egging Me On
Life may imitate art, but around our home, marriage imitates international relations.
Last Sunday I was preparing omelets for my wife Kate and her parents.
My mother-in-law Betty (who understands fully that when I am creating a culinary masterpiece, the kitchen becomes my sole territory) nevertheless attempted to salt the eggs while they were still on the gas range. The gas range is technically in neutral or international territory.
When I saw Betty edge the salt shaker toward the omelet pan, I slapped her hand with the back of my butcher knife. I certainly meant no harm, but wouldn't you know it? Instead of moving her hand away, Betty grabbed the knife.
As a result of her hostile action Betty lost her little finger.
At the hospital I waited with the rest of the family while a surgeon attempted unsuccessfully to reattach Betty's digit.
Hardly had Betty come out of the anesthetic when Kate started with her demands. "Apologize to Mother."
"No. Your mother salts her food too much. In her home that's her prerogative. But not when I am involved in a cooking exercise."
"You are an imperialistic beast," said my wife.
"If I were in your mother's territory and she was over-salting her own food and I cut her finger off, then yes," I said. "I would entertain an apology."
That night I slept on the couch and my wife hid the kitchen utensils. Kate vowed she was going to keep all our pots and pans until I admitted that the severed finger was all my fault.
To appease her, I wrote a letter to my father-in-law in which I said "I regretted" the loss of his wife's finger. I went so far as to say that I felt sorry for any inconvenience to him.
This was not enough for Kate. She had it in her head that I must apologize to her mother and offer full reparations.
I asked her, "What kind of wuss do you take me for? It was an unfortunate incident. If necessary we'll take this to the Hague."
"The hell with the Hague. Admit that you did a horrible thing."
"If I capitulate, it will be a matter of days, possibly hours, before your mother sneaks into our kitchen and salts everything. She'll invade our territory with MSG and ketchup."
"Aren't you sorry that my mother only has nine fingers left?"
"Sorry is not in my vocabulary. I already offered my regrets. If your family presses this incident, the next step may lead to thermonuclear war."
"Thermonuclear war will seem like a picnic if I blow up," warned my wife. "Now tell Mother you're sorry."
So I did. After all, as President Bush illustrated with China and 24 American detainees, who wants to start World War III by failing to offer a sorry or two?
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2001 Jaron Summers