I received a wedding invitation yesterday in the mail. I love weddings. There’s something so lovely about dewy new love celebrated in a glorious setting surrounded by flowers and people drinking champagne in lovely clothes. This enthusiasm is not shared by my other half who only shows up for the cake. Being a practical being, for him it would make more sense to put that money to good use either as a down payment on a home or tucked safely away in a savings account for future use. It’s not that he’s not romantic, he is, but he feels grooms are really only arm accessories at such functions and it’s a lot of money for an escort service. A lot of men have voiced similar thoughts to me over the years. It is no secret weddings are all about the bride. The groom is only there really to add equanimity to the top of the cake.
Scanning my closet for something appropriate to wear, I discovered my wardrobe has seriously gone downhill since owning the restaurant. When you own a restaurant you are on hand any day the sign is turned to OPEN, and most days it is not. On operating days, it is necessary to show up looking like you’re somebody as a good part of your day is spent schmoozing with the customers and making a public presence at one place or another. Towards that end I put to good use all the dresses, skirts, and corporate wear I brought with me from my previous job as an executive assistant. As the work responsibilities grew for me after my other half had a heart attack, my body mass dwindled, and the corporate clothes began to hang on my frame. I found myself instead wearing size 2 clothes at middle age. At that size you’re forced to shop in the misses department desperately searching for clothes that wouldn’t cause tongues to wag about Susie trying to recapture her lost youth. Once the restaurant was sold, the cigarettes which helped me get through those stressful days were put aside, my body went back to its usual size 6 and the tee tiny clothes were donated to the Salvation Army for someone else nearly invisible to slip into to. Once the 2’s were culled out of the herd there wasn’t much left to leave the house in besides the boxer shorts I like to sleep in and an unwieldy group of tee-shirts chronicling my travels over the years.
Slowly I have rebuilt my wardrobe, admittedly mostly with shorts, jeans, and tops, but certainly if the Queen calls to invite me to dinner I am ill prepared to accept unless she’s going for thrift store chic. I like being comfortable. Most of my life I’ve rolled out of bed, put on my face (as my mother refers to doing your makeup), and panty hose in place stepped into my work persona and uncomfortable shoes. My feet of late run free in sandals and flip flops dancing into the moonlight with no calouses or blisters to slow them down. If I was still limber enough to make it happen they’d slap me a kiss.
The other half and I have long since crested that hump where we still need to dress up perfectly every day to convince one another we want to stay together. We’ve seen each other after a night of sleep, a bad bout of stomach flu, in a hospital bed, and in about every scenario involved in day to day living. Secrets have been spilled, myths debunked, and the truth is on the table. I can remember when married the first time setting the alarm in the morning so I could get out of bed and have my makeup and hair done before my husband woke up. Those days are far behind me.
It is not that I don’t put on my makeup each day, and pull on pressed, clean clothes and brush my hair. I assure you I do. Just because you’ve hauled the fish in doesn’t mean you stop trying to keep him in the boat. Conversely my crisply pressed other half has slipped his standards a bit, going from corporate clean to down home casual. He has a leg up on me in that his head wakes up already in place as the hair has long ago gone to a better place to end its days.
Men are more fortunate in the grooming department. Most men, naturally. There are those peacocks who spend hours maneuvering each hair into place and spraying it into submission. The guys who dress in a tuxedo to attend a picnic, have regular manicures and facials, and leave a party if their pleats aren’t ironed straight. The average guy, at least from my experience, mostly follows the three esses. You know what they are, so I won’t elucidate. Let’s just say it’s basically shaving (and stubble or a full beard have become the “in faces” making this less frequent), showering, and availing themselves of the facilities. As an aside here, I have begun to wonder what men do with all the toilet paper at their disposal. Over the years I have regularly supplied my bathrooms with ample rolls for passing patrons, and am astonished at the rapid diminishing of the supply. I wonder if I put up a potty-cam I would find them consuming it or tucking it in their pockets for an emergency? If I’d saved a nickel for every roll of TP I’d seen fall by the wayside, I’d be sitting in a villa in Caan as of this writing.
There is a delightful freeing when in a good relationship that has seen some miles. I am not suggesting getting comfortable to the point of throwing banana peels on the floor and sitting around eating Cheetos in your wife beaters, but a little loosening up is a good thing and I believe a sign of trust in the person you have chosen to spend your life with. I certainly notice when my other half is dressed up and looking sharp, but I like him just as well when he’s in his shorts and tank top watering the plants. To me he looks like him, familiar and dear which is a good thing.
Anyhow, I will go out this weekend and attempt to find a dress. It’s been so long I hope I don’t have to fight my body to get one over my head. After looking in the ads at the major stores I’m not sure I like what’s trending at the moment, but surely in the sea of dresses and fabrics there’s one with a tag saying, “made just for Susie”. It will be nice, actually, to slip into a bit of femininity. No matter what I’m wearing I retain a bit of my tomboy, so a little sway and flow in my outfit might feel nice for a change.
Soup weather is moving away from us, but I reserve this one for early summer. Light and refreshing, it is great served with a tuna sandwich and a cold glass of lemonade.
Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup
8 cups rich chicken broth
1 rotisserie chicken (garlic) skinned, and cubed (about 3 cups)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced thin
1/4 orange bell pepper, sliced thin and halved
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3 cups spinach, coarsely shredded
2 cups cooked rice
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
3 egg yolks, beaten
4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (or more depending on your lemon prevalence)
1/2 lemon, seeded, halved and sliced thin
2 tsp. lemon zest
Spray 6 quart crock pot. Add broth, chicken, onion, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, orange bell pepper,
bay leaves, black pepper, salt, and cumin. Mix well. Cook on low for 5 hrs. Add spinach. Cook on low for 1 hr.
Cook rice according to pkg. directions. Add to pot with parsley.
In small bowl whisk egg yolks. Add 4 Tbsp. of lemon juice and whisk until thin.
Take a ladle of hot but not simmering soup. Add slowly to egg mixture whisking constantly. Add a second ladle and continue to whisk. Pour egg mixture back into soup slowly whisking constantly. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Add zest and slices of lemon.