SUNDAY: I should have known from my husband’s body language that he was up to something. He was strutting the way he does when he carries his tool chest en route to a household emergency or when he goes fishing and comes back with a string of slippery, scaly, deadeyed creatures. It’s that male/hunter/world-dominator look.
“Look at this,” he said, pointing to the grocery cart. “I got a cherry pie. Doesn’t it look great?”
A cherry pie.
Now, you might think this is something perfectly harmless — or even, thoughtful. Ha.
But that would be ignoring a few facts: 1) I’d just told my husband I’d gained six pounds I needed to lose immediately and was contemplating becoming a vegetarian or vegan or something more extreme, if necessary; 2) cherry pie is one of those foods — like gleaming, molten-fat pints of Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen Dazs — that I can’t resist; if they’re in the house, I eat them (I have a very complicated emotional relationship with sweets); and 3) he was about to go out of town for several days, leaving me alone with the cherry pie. This is what we in the relationship business call passive-aggressive behavior. Except my husband’s not usually passive-aggressive. That’s my role. He’s usually aggressive-aggressive.
“Don’t worry,” he said later. We were eating dessert in front of the TV. He was eating his damned, succulent cherry pie and I was eating a pile of hyper-expensive fresh cherries from Chile, trying adopt a prim, pristine vegan attitude and pretend fruit is every bit as delicious as a fruit pie with latticed pastry and sugar on top. I should have gotten an Oscar for my role. Yum! Fresh fruit!
“Don’t worry,” he repeated. “I’ll take the rest of the pie to work tomorrow.”
“Fine,” I said sulkily, spitting out a pit and thinking how cherry pies didn’t even have pits.
MONDAY: The pie (or 11/12ths of it) was still sitting in our kitchen. My husband had forgotten to drop it by his office.
I stared at the pie and the pie stared back. I decided it was a test of my willpower. What was I, a total loser? No, I was already practically a vegetarian, a healthy liver.
I steamed a massive amount of spinach, then added boursin cheese to it — a very creative, Continental touch, I thought. What was I supposed to eat every day? Four helpings of vegetables? Five? This spinach would satisfy my daily vegetable allowance all in one fell swoop.
TUESDAY: “Sorry I forgot the pie,” my husband emailed. “Why don’t you put it in the freezer?”
I could barely get to my computer to read the email. I was suffering from spinach overdose — something vegetarians never warn you about. Maybe, I thought, I was secretly allergic to vegetables.
Every time I looked at the pie, it reminded me that I never wanted to eat anything again, ever. Since I dislike being ordered around, I put the cherry pie in the refrigerator.
WEDNESDAY: I had lunch with my friend, Lynn. She ordered peach cobbler a la mode with two spoons. I ate it out of solidarity and also because I was still in recovery from my spinach overdose.
THURSDAY: I shelved my vegan plans. What had I been thinking? Vegans don’t eat milk or cheese. Cheese is my life.
FRIDAY: Oh, and that vegetarian idea? Forget that one, too.
SATURDAY: Going through the refrigerator, I noticed the pie. Frankly, it hadn’t aged well; it looked a bit discolored and gelatinous. But there it was — all 11/12ths of it, waiting for my husband’s imminent arrival. I slammed the refrigerator door, feeling victorious. The pie and I had gone mano a mano. Guess who blinked.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)