One pleasure the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and myself enjoy is going out for a quiet dinner together. It does not happen often, at least not often enough. When it does, it is always a delightful time and we try to take advantage of it.
The delight on my wife's side is that she does not have to cook the meal and then clean up afterwards. I have offered to help clean up, but only once and I am now forbidden to get anywhere near the dishwasher. And, for good reason.
Once in the early days of our marriage, I decided to surprise her by cooking supper for her. She spent the afternoon shopping with some friends and so I thought it was the proper time for me to do this.
Up until that time, I did not know how difficult cooking was. I've seen my grandmother do it and my mother and now my wife, so I thought it was a rather easy thing to do.
I must confess I have never studied these ladies while they were preparing the meal. I enjoyed the meal when it was done and that satisfied me.
I spent all afternoon that day preparing a very romantic dinner for us to enjoy together. The kids were at camp or somewhere so we had the house to ourselves. I worked very hard doing what I thought was cooking a nice meal.
As soon as my wife walked in the door, she stopped and said, “What is that awful smell? What are you burning?”
I must confess that the kitchen was filled with smoke and I am not sure the source. What I was cooking that night escapes me at this point, but I thought I put enough time, thought, and it to do it properly.
The whole meal that night was a complete and perfect disaster. I know there is nothing perfect, but this came as close to perfect as I have ever seen.
I must confess there was a nice balance to that meal. Some was undercooked and some overcooked. If you balance them together, maybe something comes out right, I am not sure. Nothing, however, met the standard that my wife upholds in the culinary department. All the appliances in the kitchen were shocked by a disaster they had never seen before. And, never since, because I am banned from cooking in the kitchen.
The only thing I can do in the morning his turn the coffee pot on, that is the limit to my kitchen activities.
As we were sitting at our table at the restaurant, I was smiling. My wife looked at me and said, “Okay, what are you smiling about?”
I have never brought it up since that time and I was very hesitant about doing it now. Upon her insistence, I told her I was thinking about the time I cooked her dinner.
She stared at me for a few moments and then burst out in hilarious laughter.
“I don't think,” she said between laughter, “you cooked anything that night except your goose.”
That is the only expertise I have, I suppose, cooking my own goose.
We chuckled about that as we looked at the menu to see what we were going to order. Everything on the menu sounded delicious. Of course, we had worked all day and so were quite hungry and I suppose anything would look delicious at that point.
The waitress brought us our drinks, I had coffee and she had lemon tea, and we went back to studying the menu.
It was then that I noticed something. It had never crossed my mind until this point. I'm rather observant in life, particularly noticing the little things. But this night I was shocked.
Staring at the menu my mouth dropped open, my eyes expanded to their limit. At that moment, my wife looked at me and said, “What's wrong?”
I finally was able to say something and conveyed to her nothing was wrong and I was okay. She knew better. My mouth was still open and my eyes were still bulging.
Then I heard some laughter across the table. I looked up and she was laughing one of her laughs that I knew had to do with me.
“Have you decided what you going to order yet?”
I muttered, stuttered and said nothing at that point.
“I know what's wrong,” she giggled.
“Nothing's wrong,” I tried to convince her.
“You mean to tell me,” she said between giggles, “that you have not noticed the prices on this menu?”
Finally, putting the menu down I confessed I had noticed the prices and could not believe how expensive everything was. I did not know what to do, we were out to enjoy the evening together and I was in a predicament.
“You know,” she said quietly, “there's a pizza shop around the corner. Maybe we could go there tonight.”
If anybody can read my mind, it is my wife. We paid for the coffee and tea, went to the pizza shop around the corner, and really, I mean really, enjoyed ourselves.
Driving home that night I thought of what the apostle Paul said. “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
The best part of a night out is not how much the meal costs, but who you are sharing it with.