I was making beds today, giving them the freshly laundered sheet treatment, and as I puffed a flat sheet up into the air and let it sail down on top of the mattress, I realized, even as I got a whiff of just-out-of-the-dryer scent, how much I didn’t feel like the women in the commercials who do the same thing (you know, when CGI flowers arc and somersault, when their eyelids draw downward and they inhale, smiles tugging at their mouths because they’re making a bed).
I guess I don’t care for bed making, as activities go. Oh, I like order and the appearance of order enough that I make my bed on an (almost) daily basis, but the act itself does not my attention pique. I cringe a bit at using the word mundane – it’s been used to a fault in reference to household chores – but in honesty that’s how I would have to describe shuffling from one side of the bed to the other, back and forth, all the tugging and the hoisting and the tucking to ensure flatness and evenness.
The same mundanity, however cliché, applies to unloading the dishwasher, another domestic dislike I hold dear. Also on the list: vacuuming, cleaning showers… I might as well just stop there because do you really want to be privy to my list? Cleanliness may be paramount, but that doesn’t mean I can claim to enjoy cleaning. You can’t perceive love from a clean toilet, or a speck-free armoire. You can perceive pride of ownership, maybe OCD. But unless you’re a social worker, you’re not about to look at spotless countertops and think, my, this is a woman who undoubtedly loves her family.
Slap together a fat grilled cheese, slicing the cheese according to a child’s particulars, on the other hand and, there it is: love in action. Carefully measure and whisk and stir; heat up the griddle and employ a spatula, early in the morning, and there’s undoubtedly love in the mix. Gently layer flavors in a salad in a way that makes the whole thing feel a little reinvented, or bake an all-around favorite cookie, and it’s there, too.
I suppose that’s one reason I’m so taken with cooking. I have a family now, of all things. Someone has to feed them, and I’m not about to leave that most important nutrient-and-taste-delivery job to someone who could care less about nutrients or even taste (I’m thinking not only of fast food, but of supermarket prepared and processed food).
Cleaning has to be done, but we all know that in this country, one could conceivably get away without cooking. Still, cooking becomes requisite because no other soul will go to the trouble of seeing that our appetites don’t disproportionately fall into the cracker box, that we don’t get mired in a rut of romaine and one mere type of tomato. Even if it’s necessary, cooking’s not a daily bore the way pushing a mop around can be. Like I said, no one’s going to come home to clean floors and see it as an expression of my unconditional affection. But let them taste the way a poached egg’s yolk flavors sautéed chard, or why tart Pink Lady apples taste so good with aged white cheddar and a smattering of nuts, and they get it.