June 15th, 2006 —
Foot in Mouth
“You do remember how important tonight is, correct Edgar?” Elaine uttered as if going through a check list with her secretary rather than speaking with her soon-to-be-husband. “Tonight you will be meeting my parents for the first time and they are still very unhappy about my accepting your proposal without you and them meeting first. I will not be wearing my engagement ring tonight so as not to rub that fact in their faces. I want my parents to meet you, fall in love with you and then of course, once they do, my accepting your proposal will not be such a sore point with them.” Elaine’s words were coming out a mile a minute and Edgar was debating whether to absorb it all or go with the flow later on when the big meeting took place. Elaine always repeated herself several times a day, so if he missed something now, he was sure to hear about it again later on.
“My parents are sticklers for protocol ….” Elaine continued as Edgar wanted to say, “Breathe woman, Breathe!” “ ……and this was so out of character for me but you and I are a good match Edgar.” She said in her Kate Hepburn tone of voice.
“In time you will prove to them that my rash decision was the right one. Are you listening to me Edgar?” Elaine paused as if doing so was going to have a profound effect on him. He had heard this same scenario over and over the past few weeks and tonight as Elaine had stressed so many times before was the night; the night that her parents would accept him and Elaine could then proceed to plan the wedding of the year. He failed to comprehend how one dinner could make much of a difference.
When he suggested they go out to eat, Elaine was appalled. Dinner was a big event at her parent’s home every evening and tonight would be an even more special event for them all. All Edgar was in the mood for was a thick juicy succulent steak with a thick- pouring -out -of -its -skin baked potato and all the trimmings. Elaine thought that was cave man food, this was not a steak and potatoes kind of evening.
“This,” she stressed, “is just as important as the wedding day, Edgar. He hated the way she said his name- “Edgahhhh” as if he was royalty, which he wasn’t because if this was how royalty behaved, he’d prefer his steak, potato and beer in a long neck bottle as opposed to a can. He couldn’t understand why she insisted on speaking this way.
“I’m their only daughhtah, my father’s pride and joy and if my parents don’t approve of you Edgahhh, particularly my fathahh, I don’t know what will become of us.” Elaine paused for effect once again hoping that her stopping for a few moments would drive the point across to Edgar. Sometimes he could be so dense!
“If you don’t say the right thing, like pause to think about your answers but not too long of a pulse because then he’ll think you aren’t sure of yourself, but just long enough to make him think that you’ve pondered this before or that well…you get the idea don’t you Edgahhh? Edgahhh? Are you listening to me? Oh for heavens sake darhhling! This is vital! There are so many things that can go wrong!” Elaine was acting as if her life depended on this one meeting and Edgar, as happy as he was to have her in his life, couldn’t help thinking about how much he wanted a thick juicy T-bone rare steak, so thick that when he pierced it with his fork to cut it, the juices were already flowing. Edgar visualized this moment each time Elaine stressed out over the evening. A steak! Yes, a steak would do it. A steak would put him at ease, it was comfort food. It was manly food.
Since meeting Elaine, steak and potatoes was one of the things he had given up if only to please her. Why was food such an issue with her and now with her family? Elaine continued speaking frantically.
“If you pick up the wrong fork at dinner, it could all change for us Edgar. I know my parents. They look at the tiniest thing; they scrutinize everything, especially my mother. Manners are very important to her Edgar and they show the most at the dinner table so you must be absolutely sure to not only follow the conversation but Edgar…… are you listening to me? I want this night to be perfect. I’ve even asked mother to allow me to help her with the menu for the evening so that you don’t make any mistakes.” Edgar finally realized that there was way to much for him to remember for this evening and so he had no choice to go over in his head all that Elaine had said. It served as a quick review lesson for this evening. Nothing would go wrong!
The evening started out with the usual pleasantries and Edgar resisted patting himself on the back when he excused himself to go to the bathroom. He went over all the details of his conversation with Elaine’s mother just in case she asked him questions about it later on. Elaine had gone into the study with her father and this was Edgar’s chance to impress his future – mother – in – law.
Earlier in the week, Elaine’s mother, Emily, had phoned her to go over the menu for the last time. She wanted to make a change and when she asked Elaine that she would rather prepare a nice Italian meal, Elaine discouraged her. She told her mother that Edgar was not fond of Italian food as his sister-in-law always insisted on making the worst watery, uncooked, tasteless lasagna each time he visited with his brother and his family. As a result, Elaine told her mother, Edgar hated anything that looked remotely like the popular Italian dish. The Roast Duck would be just fine. The side dishes were selected carefully by Elaine because she knew that Edgar would ask constantly what this and that was, so she kept the side dishes to a minimum; twice baked potatoes with a thick creamy sauce that had just a touch of butter, asparagus with hollandaise sauce; A simple garden salad with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Edgar would be a bit disappointed but he’ll eat just enough not to appear as a hungry oaf and dinner could then be over and done with so that they could get on to the real purpose of the evening; the wedding plans.
As her father, Stephan escorted Elaine into the dinning room, and Edgar followed with Emily, Edgar tried hard to resist the urge to smile like a Cheshire Cat. He had it in the bag. He had won them over. He knew it was a matter of time before the men waltzed into the den, with their brandies in one hand and their cigars ready to be snipped and lit by the butler. Edgar memorized what fork to use and when. As dessert was being served his future mother-in-law was smiling profusely. Elaine knew that Edgar had won her over and she began to relax. Gone where the long stares at Edgar trying to capture his attention, reminding him with her silent stares that he had to be careful not to say the wrong thing.
“Edgar, my dear,” Emily purred. “How did you enjoy my Roast Duck this evening? I had it marinated it in a special wine sauce that is the entire rave in Europe. I think it was tender and mouthwatering. Don’t you?” Emily rarely cooked but when she did, the family knew better than to say anything to her other than the meal was superb. But it was common knowledge that her cooking was always a disaster. Every thing she cooked was always bland and tasteless and regardless of how much any one tried to drown her dishes with whatever sauces she had invented for that meal, the food was just too horrible for words. But seeing how she only cooked once in a while, every one always showered her with compliments so as not to insult or hurt her feelings.
Edgar wasn’t particular crazy about the Roast Duck. When he tried to tell Elaine that he wasn’t fond of it, she shushed him and told him it was for just one night, to deal with it, and to think of a nice compliment he could shower on her mother later on. And then before he knew what hit him, it was over.
“Well Edgar dear, tell me what did you like the best of my home cooked meal? I don’t cook often but when I do, I love to dabble with new sauces and side dishes.”
With a barrel chest, believing he had won them all over, Edgar wiped his mouth, laid his napkin on his lap and said, “Oh Emily this meal was delicious. In fact, I thought my sister in law was the only one in our family that could cook up a meal that would stick to our ribs for days on end, but tonight, I have found someone that has topped her. This was even better than her lasagna.”
Copyright © 2006 by Sonia Agron word count 1564