Young@Heart by Pam Young
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Hors D’oeuvres Can Save a Marriage
Men are weird when they’re hungry (especially tall ones). I learned this early in my marriage to Terry. When it was dinner time he used to always be ravenous and, quite frankly, I didn’t like him when he was that way. He was six feet, three inches of uncontrollable hunger and he’d drive me nuts! He didn’t act mean or cranky like some men do; he just acted like he’d skipped his meds. He’s sort of a combination of Cramer (in the sitcom Seinfeld) and Barney Fife (in The Andy Griffith Show). But when he’d get hungry he’d be like those two characters on speed. He’d dart around the kitchen trying to get closer to the pending meal. He’d find difficulty concentrating and our kitchen just wasn’t big enough for both of us, when he’d be famished.
A famished man definitely acts differently than a famished woman. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Swanson didn’t think to name their large portioned TV dinner, Hungry Woman Dinner, even though an average lady can put one away with no problem. No one addresses the idea of a hungry woman because, quite frankly, we never are. That’s because we snack. From the time we are youngsters; we spend more time in the kitchen and therefore have more access to food than men do. If we work outside of our homes we carry with us a snacking pattern gleaned from generations of female snackers. I would bet that more business women have snacks in their drawers at work than men do. And men don’t have purses (a natural snack sack) to tuck treats.
Terry doesn’t have a snacking pattern. That’s because his mother fixed all the meals and called him to the table when the food was ready to eat. Consequently, he had spent his entire life eating just three meals a day. I’m a snacker because when I was a young girl, I learned to cook at my mother’s side, having access to food from moment to moment.
I think if Terry thought he could get away with it, he’d barge into the kitchen, from a snackless day in his office and head straight to the nearest open container of food. He’d wolf down the main course right over the frying pan and slop the sauce de jour all over the front of himself. He’d cool his burnt tongue in a stream of cold water from the kitchen faucet and continue his dishless feed leaning over the sink as he crammed. He’d stuff his already packed mouth with a variety of miscellaneous edibles within reach and wash the remaining side dishes down with a pot of soup he’d missed in his initial culinary attack on the kitchen. He wouldn’t talk, he wouldn’t think, he wouldn’t even taste, but he’d be full. It would take about five minutes.
Since he couldn’t get away with that, he had been resigned to a hypertensive ritual which had definitely put stress on an otherwise perfect marriage. I got very cranky with his six o’clock stalk through the kitchen. Wild-eyed, waiting for an opportunity to move in on unattended food, he’d open and shut the refrigerator at least forty times, as if by some magic it would present something he hadn’t seen the first time. I remember thinking, ‘If this guy were a pet seal, all I’d have to do is throw him a mackerel out on the deck and he’d be out of my hair,’ but what do you do when it’s your husband?
The answer? Hors d’oeuvres! That thought hit me right between bites one night while I was fixing dinner. I suddenly realized something that could ultimately save 75% of couples who think they want to divorce, from the agony of disillusionment. It might have even salvaged my first marriage, but that was too late. I’d decided I was going to apply it to my new husband.
Men love hors d’oeuvres! That’s because hors d’oeuvres send a chemical message to the male brain that tells the animal there is food ready to eat, NOW. Terry told me that when he smells the aroma food cooking, his nose is unable to decipher when that food will be ready to eat. A plate of hors d’oeuvres, on the other hand, goes straight into the blood stream, assuring the organism that everything is going to be alright. Now you might ask, “Why do you think men like hors d’oeuvres more than women do?” Well, women like hors d’oeuvres too, but they don’t need them like men do. When I fix dinner I am hors d’oeuvring through the entire cooking process. My cleanup consists of hors d’oeuvres and many times I’ve hors d’oeuvred myself into a bloated stupor before I’ve sat down to the dinner table.
Even if hors d’oeuvres are part of the meal held out and put on a special plate, it will do the trick. Say you have prepared a roast chicken; just throw the cooked gizzard, heart and liver in the Cuisnart with a little onion, garlic and mayo, smear it on a couple of crackers and put it on a fancy plate that doesn’t match anything else in your china cupboard. (You can find such plates and bowls at any reputable garage sale.)
Hors d’oeuvres can be the result of a refrigerator clean out. It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it is served IMMEDIATELY!
Hors d’oeuvres is French. In French, hors d’oeuvres means outside of work. The French are smart. They were very clever to name this part of a meal, hors d’oeuvres because a hungry husband just outside of work needs something in his stomach. The French are also known for being romantic. They probably thought up the saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I think that is true. If you want to stop fighting over stupid things like who used the last square of toilet paper and didn’t replace the roll, serve hors d’oeuvres. If your marriage is threatened by quibbling over who uses all the gas in the car and coasts it into the driveway, serve hors d’oeuvres right there in the garage. If your husband expects you to be a natural navigator and you can’t read a map unless the map and the car are going in the same direction, have hors’ d’oeuvres in the front seat and you’ll be home free. Hors d’oeuvres can save your marriage. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the only thing standing in the way of happier marriages is a glob of tuna salad on a couple of nice crisp romaine lettuce leaves?