Fifty-nine days ago, I pinned a quote from Queen Elizabeth’s speech about coronavirus on the refrigerator: “I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to look back with pride at how they responded to this challenge.” At that time, we were already 26 days into the quarantine.
I’d managed fairly well up until this point but today the frozen lentils took me over the edge. In this ghastly week of protests, curfews, looting, the military gassing its own citizens, and the horrible echo of George Floyd’s last words, strange that mere legumes would be my undoing.
Overheard as I worked in my home office at 1 p.m. today:
“That’s a disaster waiting to happen. If your hand slips . . . .”
I should have stayed put, but went into the kitchen to investigate.
A clump of frozen lentil curry the size of a soccer ball lay in a glass bowl on the counter. My son was attempting to stab it with his KA-BAR knife, a Marine Corps weapon capable of lethal damage.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m trying to cut this apart.”
“Stop,” I said irritably. “Just heat all of it up.”
My son stubbornly insisted that no, it was too much.
My husband observed from the dining room, a one-man Greek chorus.
When I stepped forward to interfere and take the glass bowl, my 6’5” son body checked me and blocked my reaching it.
That’s when 85 days of stress, worry, confinement, overwork and anguish burst forth. I bellowed “STOP” at full throttle, picked up a weighty cast iron skillet and brought it down violently on the counter, making a godawful clatter. By this time, my son had ducked, perhaps fearing that I was going to hurl the skillet. I wasn’t, knowing the Queen would have drawn the line at that.
I wasn’t finished, however. “I’m trying to work,” I screamed. “When I say, ‘stop’ I mean stop!” At this point my husband was advising that perhaps I should be the one to stop, but I was not to be deterred. “Have some respect!” I roared at both of them.
It should be noted that while yelling, I was transferring the frozen curry into a pan, adding a bit of water, putting it on the stove, and setting a low flame so it could defrost and heat slowly.
The rituals of feeding the family are reflexive, even during a collapse.