The action and sound effects were designed specifically to divert my attention. First, the mad streak through the kitchen, fists balled and tensed to punch down the air. Then, the scream – the pitch one of frustration – emitted at precisely the halfway point, and just as she passed me and my cutting board. Just as my knife was slicing quickly down into resinous rosemary.
Quinn was not happy with me, was projecting her frustration at something in the playroom onto her mother. She’d tried to get my attention by sending urgent shouts for help from that direction, but I’d called back that I was cooking, that I had oil on my hands, that I’d have to help her in a minute.
But help now was what she wanted, not deferred help. Not help-in-a-minute that would turn into minutes, into the plural.
Maybe it was the release of oils from the rosemary, the sudden fragrance that overwhelmed that other, hearing sense, but her shriek couldn’t tear me from my task. I was busy. Busy patting down dough for the flatbread that would go with our salad. Busy wondering if my supermarket olive oil was one of the dumbed-down dirt-oils decried in the Cooks’ Illustrated article I’d read just moments before (albeit three months late).
Busy with the mental list of things I needed to remember to put into our salad: oil-packed tuna stirred with some of the rosemary and balsamic; cannellini beans; the capers in the back of the fridge that I keep forgetting are there; a handful of cherry tomatoes; sliced red onion, naturally; crumbled feta from heaven. Oh, and the green and black briny olives the in-laws so generously bestowed upon me, because they know I like olives and they really don’t. (Poor, unfortunate, olive haters.)
I was busy making dinner.
I admit that I’m not easily torn from my cooking-in-progress. My husband will come home from work, and sure, I’m making the man food like a good wife who enjoys making her man food should be, but I’m far from greeting him at the door with a welcoming peck. He gets a “Hey,” followed by, “Can you please put forks on the table?” And then I’m back to pushing things around in the pan or whatever it is I’m doing, and he knows to save the day’s conversation about politics until we’re seated, full plates in front.
If I stopped in my tracks every time the kids called from some corner in the house, I’d accomplish very little in a very long time. We’d be eating dinner in Spain (i.e., super late). I could tell from Quinn’s tone that whatever she needed could wait until the bread was baking and the timer was turned on.
I vow this much: I will stop for blood. And broken bones.