Humor writer Kristen Hansen Brakeman is worried about her husband. Not that he hasn’t made good use of his time while locked down at home in La Canada, California. But that’s the problem. Which Kristen recognized when she saw, he has even started using The Big Spoon.
That’s twice this week that he used the big spoon. It struck me as odd when I emptied the dishwasher. Now, three days after that, I see that he’s used it again.
I shouldn’t give it another thought because my husband Forrest does all the cooking. I should just be thankful. How many wives wouldn’t be thrilled to have their husband cook even one day a week, let alone all seven? Still, it’s one of our special serving spoons, the kind we use when we host Christmas dinner, not an everyday spoon. We have plenty of those. In fact we have an abundance of spoons.
So why, after 31 years of marriage, and 12 months of Covid seclusion in the same house together, day after day, night after night, with both of us mostly unemployed, would he suddenly use one of our special spoons? It would be like me putting on a cocktail dress to run to the UPS.
He must have cracked. This endless seclusion must have finally gotten to him.
I realize I missed other signs, like the extravagant ear-pods he started wearing around town like he’s some sort of tattooed, hipster millennial. I guess the purchase could be justified. After all, he walks five to ten miles a day and he was frustrated that his corded earpieces kept getting pulled out of his ears.
I suppose the expensive ear-pods will also come in handy when Forrest does his daily Spanish lessons on the computer, the ones he started back in May, the ones that regularly prompt him to say, “A Jose le gustan las manzanas. Le gustan mucho.” (For the Spanish-challenged, Jose likes his apples. A lot.)
Still, as I sit here scrolling the internet, seeing the same headlines posted over and over, I worry now about my husband’s other suspicious behavior. There is the constant reading of recent Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, of literary classics he missed as a youth, and of historical tomes that he didn’t have time to read back when he was working regularly and we had three young children at home.
This is new, this excessive reading. At first during the lockdown it was just an occasional thing whenever he hit overload from the constant barrage of terrible news. But now it’s daily, and it’s gotten to the point where if I refer to a video that’s trending— like the internet cat lawyer, or the latest anti-mask tirade, or a funny offering from a viral comedian— he doesn’t know what I’m talking about!
It’s like, I don’t even know him anymore.
Then there are all the new recipes! He’s cooking so many new dishes, it’s as if he were opening a restaurant and trying to create a menu. Why just last week, there was braised short ribs and polenta. Another night was bruschetta appetizer followed by Pasta Bolognese. Then there was Pollo con Verde that somehow became enchiladas on the night that followed. I mean, who does that?
There were also lemon bars and sweet potato pies, and batches and batches of chocolate chip cookies, and then the experiments with creative cocktails too: the Negronis, the Manhattans, the Boulevardiers.
I should have known something was wrong. But that can happen in a long marriage. I was too wrapped up in my own worries to notice, too busy tweeting about the latest travesties out of Washington, too busy texting my sisters about the misery of our endless hibernation, too busy commiserating with friends about opportunities missed and milestones lost.
I didn’t hear his obvious cries for help.
Now he’s made plans to clean out the garage. He even suggested buying new shelving that he could install on the back wall. Perhaps we could sort through the keepsake bins and get a rack for the gardening equipment too, he said, but do it soon before the vaccine becomes more available and our time at home comes to an end.
Should I stage an intervention or is it best to let it go?
Just this morning I saw him eyeing our old guitar and inquiring about online lessons. I should probably step in. I need to make sure he’s been properly briefed on the latest news, knows about every injustice and possible doom.
Then again, I noticed a recipe for fish tacos in our printer. I suppose my concerns can wait another day. Because me gustan los tacos de pescado. Me gustan mucho.
Kristen is the author of a collection of comic essays, “Is That The Shirt You’re Wearing?: A Memoir in Essays”