My mother says that if I say “Anything You Want. . .” to her again, she is going to kill me .
It was just yesterday, when I expressed a bit of distress she used a bread bag rather than a carrier bag to wrap up her urine soaked pad before she threw it into the kitchen garbage, that she told me that if I was going to say anything she didn’t want to hear I could just shut up.
Today she was cooking for my Sister-In-Law and Brother’s 25th anniversary party. She wanted to make the product herself, and that’s fine.
One of the first things she asked was if I thought microwaving cream cheese, Velveeta and blue cheese would make a good base for the artichoke dip.
It didn’t sound good to me, but it was her taste, what she wanted. I knew she wanted it her way. I told her that I couldn’t imagine the flavour profile, so I couldn’t tell her, which is true.
I can either cook something to my taste, or I can follow a recipe. Those are the only two ways I know how to cook.
Unfortunately, she wanted her taste and she didn’t have a recipe, so the only thing I could do was keep my mouth shut and try to satisfy her. She was clear she didn’t want to talk about flavour profiles or anything stupid-ass like that.
I decided to do only what she asked. Better to not do something she didn’t want than to do something wrong. Only problem is that not doing something was also wrong, and actually discussing what should be done is just torturing her, reminding her of her limits, pressing against her loss. In other words, nothing I can possibly do is correct.
I was trying to execute on my stuff, following her directions for sausage rolls with Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets and Jones Brown-N-Serve sausage, but kept getting pulled away. I don’t know these products, but realized by the end that the sheets were too soft too work.
One of the things I had to do was “mash” the rock hard avacados. She suggested the food processor, but she had already added the onion and garlic I diced which weren’t supposed to get mashed. Lots of work with a knife though the bowl to get some kind of chop.
In the middle of all this, my father decides to start cleaning up, and takes up all the room at the sink, blocking traffic and counters. I saw him trying to shove the potato masher into a drawer, and remembered how just this week I had bent it to hell when it jammed in that very drawer, the reason I left it in the tools bucket.
Now, to finish work, I have to muck up his “cleaning.” He wants to tell me that it’s my fault I don’t know the baking instructions for puff pastry, that I put the packages in the trash and he took out the trash. He wants to tell me over and over, no matter how much I prostrate myself, say I have heard, he is right and I am wrong. I am wrong not to be able to suck it up enough, to smilingly eat more shit. I know that, I know that, I know that.
In the course of all this, I showed my mother the sausage rolls, and asked her if she wanted them cut in half. She asked me what I thought, and I sid “Anything you want,” leaving off the “Chef.”
“If say ‘anything you want’ again, I will kill you!” she told me.
“When you say that, it sounds like you are not engaged,” reinforces my father.
I’m executing on what she wants. I won’t be complicitous and lie; I don’t like these bowls of gum she is creating, don’t want my name on them, don’t know some tiny tip to make them better. I tried with the cheese pud, adding milk, but of course, only after she dumped everything together and the processed dairy had clotted back up so it was hard to incorporate, but maybe it won’t set like cement.
I take pride in preparing food well. It’s one of the last things I can take pride in. Helping turning out badly prepared food is hard for me. I can help her look good, but only if she lets me, only if she particpates.
My mother wants wants to not listen, make messes, have me clean up the messes, and also lie and say it’s good. What she doesn’t want is to be asked to take responsibility for her aging, responsibility for her own choices, responsibility for her own satisfaction, responsibility for her own happiness, responsibility for her own life.
She’s getting older, and can’t gracefully compensate, her frustration radiating, and while I can help, I guess I can’t actually give her what she wants.
Better just let her kill me.