Cold Cuts

A couple of weeks ago Rick asked me if I would mind celebrating Valentine’s Day on February 7th. I didn’t really mind at all, it actually sounded like a great idea. I might be getting old and crotchety but I actually find the crowds of compliant Valentine’s Day participants annoying.  Not that Rick and I shouldn’t go out on dates more frequently but I hate feeling like you have to or there is something wrong with your relationship if you don’t. It’s all such a hoopla if you ask me and maybe even a little embarrassing. I might sound a little complicated but I’m a woman after all.  Every morning however when I walk into the kitchen and see my coffee mug, lovingly placed, sitting under the spout of the Senseo coffee machine with the red, ready light on, waiting for me, I feel loved. Truly. Or this morning when Rick came into the kitchen proudly reporting, “I left some tunes spinnin’ in the bathroom for you to enjoy while you are in the shower”. “Let me know what you think.” He thinks of me and wants to make me happy. That’s what those gestures mean. Little things, just little, everyday things, make me feel consistently loved. Could you imagine that he makes me smile as well?

I couldn’t help but wonder why he was asking this however. Honestly, the first thing that came to mind was that the West Virginia Mountaineers probably had a basketball game on the 14th. I wouldn’t want celebrating our love to interfere with other priorities. He then went on to tell me that he was on call and he would hate to run out in the middle of our meal and miss out on our complementary dessert that came with our Valentine’s Day Special.

A few times we have talked about where we might want to go out to eat or how we may want to celebrate but for several reasons we have never been able to finalize a decision. At one point I suggested we should maybe just go to a movie and split a combo with a large tub of popcorn, with butter halfway through, two drinks and two candies. I would choose M&Ms for me of course but I’m not sure what I would choose for Rick to share with me yet. Even though I can’t remember the last time I have been to the movies with Rick alone, watching something that wasn’t animated, we felt it was inappropriate to enjoy not talking to each other on our evening out celebrating Valentine’s Day. This would solidify the fact that sometimes our marriage is on the back burner set on simmer. Don’t get me wrong, we are both pretty happy I think, and despite the fact that we have been married for 7 years, I’m proud that we aren’t looking for creams or ointments to calm an itch.

We started talking again tonight about where and what we wanted to do on February 7, Valentines Day. I told Rick not to buy me any chocolate that I had been buying Valentine’s candy since some time after Christmas when WalMart started stocking the Seasonal aisle with Valentine delights.  It only took 1 cold haircut in the garage tonight to help me make my decision.

You see, I wear several hats in the Leatherman household. Per Rick’s request tonight, I put on my hair cutter hat, that I don every 4 to 6 weeks, and cut his hair after work. Do you know what is worse than giving a haircut in your heavy robe and winter coat in the garage in 17 degree weather? Not much I tell ya! The decision to buy some hair clippers for me to use on the boys was a mutual one. For Rick it might have been saving $20 every 4 to 6 weeks, plus the convenience of not having to make and keep a hair appointment at the beauty shop. My primary motivating factor was that Rick walked in the door several times from the barbershop looking as if he had decided to quit the pharmacy business and join the army. There were times I wanted to ignore that fact that he had experienced an altercation with some clippers but it was so obvious that he had had his hair cut, it would be more awkward not make some bit of comment. I would struggle for the best words. “Would you kids just look at Daddy?!” “His flat top is so flat you could balance a tray on it!” Or maybe, “you sure can’t get bangs that straight without a bowl on your head”! I would have such a difficult time at dinner, staring across the table at him, trying to hold in a chuckle and wondering what look the barber thought Rick might be going for. I then found it annoying that Rick’s appointments at the beauty shop always seemed to fall on an evening when we had absolutely nothing else to do and it screwed up dinner plans. I do miss Rick coming home with his “did you know so and so did this or that to so and so”?

So about 6 years ago we invested in a pair of $26.00 hair clippers from WalMart. I read the directions and practiced on Harrison. When he looked presentable Rick let me cut his hair and I’ve been doing it in the garage ever since then. Rick likes the final product of my haircuts but doesn’t enjoy the process. He told me that before my haircuts he had never had a painful one. Occasionally I catch one of his ears with the guard during an up stoke. He complains that I’m not very remorseful but what part of “suck it up, it’s free” doesn’t sound remorseful to you?

When the haircuts are over we simply sweep the hair out of the garage into the driveway and into the yard. A couple days later it is all gone? I imagine that all the bird nests in a 1 mile radius of our house are lined with Rick’s beautifully soft, fine brown hair. It makes me feel happy inside knowing that we have helped hundreds of little baby birds keep warm on cool spring mornings.

Anyway, I did a few simple calculations as follows: 52 weeks/year divided by 1 haircut every 5 weeks on average= 10.4 haircuts/year. That, times the 6 years that I have been cutting hair = 62.4 haircuts. If each haircut cost $11 including tip – the $26 clipper investment, we have saved a Net Total of $686.40 by me wearing the hair cutter hat! That isn’t even counting Harrison’s inconsistent, always over due do’s. Therefore, I see no reason why we won’t be at the Livery Tavern on Washington Street in Lewisburg, West Virginia on Feb 7th, Valentine’s Day of course.

I need to tell you real quick why simmering is my favorite cooking technique. While I love to cut into a beautifully seared scallop or piece of delicate fish that has been superficially browned on the outside, showing off its dramatic exterior, a rich, hearty sauce, that has simmered on low, gentle heat, for me couldn’t be more delectable. Unlike searing that requires hot, intense heat, and constant attention and even some stress knowing there is no room for error to achieve perfection in a perfectly timed moment, simmering can be accomplished by anyone who is willing to be patient. Gentle simmering slowly coaxes each individual spice to relinquish itself from its inner-most part. Each spice then accentuates and improves the taste of one other. The longer the better and waiting, thinking about what the future holds, makes it even more desirable. If needed, you can add a little more of this or that if the sauce is lacking in some way but there is no rush. It is also important to use a little (or a lot) of cayenne here and there. Who doesn’t enjoy a spicy sauce once in awhile ;)! With attention, it is possible to pick out specific attributes of each ingredient in the rich sauce but ultimately all the parts have become so completely integrated they are one and can never be separated again.

That is why I never mind that Rick and I simmer steadily on the back burner. We are only getting more and more delectable with a beautiful future.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s to simmering!

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