Making the Case


While there are sparks in my marriage, they’re of the “Baby, you so hot I gots to dab the nape of my neck with a moist sponge just to keep off you” variety more than “You swollen gonad, the very sound of your voice is like the tines of a fork screeching down a chalkboard that has been shellacked with aluminum foil and broken sea shells, a sound that makes me want to shriek to the heavens as I snap the fork and yank your head off.”

You see, with both of us descending from Northern European stock, Groomeo and I tend towards a certain levelness (as well as a fondness for the combination of vodka and sleeping in snowbanks). Subsequently, we don’t really fight.

Indeed, our marital sparks don’t fly during fiery exchanges, wherein I throw a wooden spoon from the spaghetti sauce at my husband, and he dodges it, resulting in smears of sauce on the wall behind him that we then watch dry, over the course of ensuing months, to a crisp brittleness, a process matched only by the creeping desiccation of love in our hearts. Fortuitously, the Groom and the Jocey aren’t left mopping up sauce–or the pieces of our shattered dreams dipped into a soggy tempura of tears.

Mostly, we look at each other, mutually exasperated, and roll our eyes at kid drama; or we bust a lung guffawing at Flight of the Conchords; or we say “yummmmm” really loudly when we take the first bite of homefries at dinner time; or we ask “How was your ski?” when the other comes into the house covered tip to toe with ice crystals and a hint of frostbite on the nose; or we band together to point out the flaws of people not in our presence; or we wonder aloud why we stopped listening to Liz Phair for a couple of years; or we go into manic-duo-folding-laundry mode before bedtime in an effort to make-go-away the five loads of rumpled clothes that obscure our mattress; or we stand behind our new digital camera and push buttons, noting repeatedly, “Nope, I don’t know what that one does, either.”

Me likey him. He likey me. It’s that easy.

In fact, we live in such monotonous harmony that we were surprised, a few weeks ago, to stumble across a sideways sort of marital disagreement.

See, last month, I went out for drinkies with The Ladies (this one time, I don’t actually mean my breasts when I type “The Ladies”; I mean actual people. They have breasts, though, some of them mighty pert. That’s part of what makes ’em ladies. That, and their unnatural fixation with shoes). My dinner that evening consisted of foodstuffs taken directly from the nutritional pyramid’s recommended blocks of Ultimate Nachos and Big Boat Stout.

Back at home, on kid duty, Groom had a bachelor’s meal: leftover chili heaped onto a bed of noodles, all ladeled over a baked potato.

The next morning, as I held my aching head and heard what he’d eaten, I could muster up only a rousing “Blech and more blech. Noodles on a baked potato? Way to carbo-load. Go out and run for three hours now, Marathon Man. Get me some ibuprofen–and a medicinal martini–while you’re at it.”

“You shudder, but it was really good,” he maintained. “I’d seen somewhere that there’s actually a dish like that called ‘Cincinnati Chili,’ so I thought I’d try it.”

“There is not such a thing anywhere, ever, on Planet Earthy. And you should not have done that thing to your food. Swear to Gross Meals Anonymous, but no one ever would willingly put all those things together and shovel them into their pie hole. No such thing exists. Stop being a big liar.”

“It was good, and I know I saw the recipe in Gourmet or somewhere.”

Continuing to elucidate my feelings with all possible ration, I yelled, “You did not go and do bad things to food like that on purpose! And we all know that foo-foo poncey magazine Gourmet is a big story-maker-upper just like you, Mr. Liarpanties.”

Ready to take me on, and well aware of my despair over students who write research papers in which all sources on the Works Cited page begin with “wiki-,” Groom got a glint in his eye.

“I, uh, just need about five minutes upstairs,” he called out, heading for the computer. Moments later, I heard him muttering to himself, “Creating a Wikipedia entry about ‘Cinncinati Chili’ couldn’t take longer than five minutes, right?”

Overhearing him, I bellered, “You are SO busted. You can’t try to be right by making up your own Wikipedia page to show me! I cry foul! Step away from the computer, you aggressor against juried and peer reviewed academia!”

Once I stopped tackling him–whoops, sparks were starting to fly!–he gasped, “I can too make up my own Wikipedia pages for anything I ever need to prove to you, like the fact that an entire city in the U.S. does put chili over noodles.”

Hey, wait. Just chili over noodles? I was already down with that part.

In truth, it was the last step, of hefting the chili-noodles onto a baked potato, that had made me incredulous. I mean, no one needs the baked potato in there when you’ve already got the warm, soft clouds of flour and salt called, in some exotic climes, pasta. That’s where the whole thing got dummm. But chili and noodles? Yea. Duh.

At this point, Groom clarified: “I was only saying that ‘Cinncinati Chili’ is chili over noodles. It so happened I was really hungry last night, so I decided to have a baked potato, too, and then I didn’t want to dirty two dishes, so I put it all in the same bowl. I wasn’t saying they also do the potato part waaaay over there in Ohio. I would never try to sell you on the potato.”

Oh. Well.

Once we calmed down a bit and regrouped after The Great Potato Misunderstanding of Late-2008, calming our breaths to a mere 20 a minute, I realized we’d entered a new era. Groom was, after almost ten years, ready to wrangle:
“I’ll be better prepared next time, you know. I’m going to make up the Wikipedia page first, and then I’m going to tell you that astronauts can’t cry correctly in space. If they get distressed, say, by an overly-full diaper, their tears–unbound by gravity–only fly upwards, straight into their eyes…unless they are clever enough to hold a cup near the eye region and capture the tears (with quick little squirrel hands) and mix them with Tang. This gives them a refreshing beverage that only ten people have ever drunk. True fact. You can look it up.”




24 responses to “Making the Case”

  1. flutter Avatar

    potatoes have been known to wreck many a marriage. No lie.

  2. Jeni Avatar

    That was a wee bit of carb overload with the baked potato but boy, he needs a big pat on the back for his excuse -saving on dirty dishes! Now that was highly commendable and probably a first for any male to think of doing that. I’ve never known one to think of dirty dishes while getting a snack or meal. Come to think of it, none of the females I raised ever thought of that either.
    And do your students (some of ’em) actually cite Wikipedia? I gotta shake my head in utter disbelief at that one. But then, they could be citing “Cliffnotes” couldn’t they?

  3. citizen of the world Avatar
    citizen of the world

    Yeah, you practically needed a mediator for that one.

  4. Balou Avatar

    Must be a guy thing. I can leave for an entire weekend and the hub will have used only one pan, one glass and one fork.

  5. Patience Avatar

    Wow! What a horrible fight! You must divorce immediately. or kill him.


  6. lime Avatar

    as one with decidedly hotter blood coursing through my southern european derived veins and who aspires to librarianship, may i just say i wept with pride over this entry….well, until groomeo went slathering pasta with chili and adding a spud. he could have just made gnocchi, which is spud based pasta….

  7. Jazz Avatar

    Me likey him. He likey me. It’s that easy.

    And that is good.

  8. Chantal Avatar

    god your funny!

  9. Steve Avatar

    Let’s hear one, sort of, for the Groomeo! My sister lived outside of Cincinatti for a few years, so we’re schooled in that pasta/chili thing. In fact, I ate it last night.

    GS cookie order coming.

  10. chelle Avatar

    hehe it is the little things that can beat it 😛 And a bowl?? Mine would have been eating out of the pot while I was away!

  11. Bob Avatar

    leave out the pasta, pour chili directly onto baked potato, garnish with mondo amounts of cheese.

    best. winter. meal. ever.

    second choice – pork barbeque on baked potato. ummmmm ummmm good.

  12. Angela Avatar

    That was hilarious. You are one witty descendant of the northern Europeans.

  13. SQT Avatar

    I was thinking what Bob was thinking. Potato + Chili = Good.

    I love you guys though. My husband and I get along when my Irish temper doesn’t get in the way. Or his. Irish blood is full of stuff like whiskey that just isn’t good for a calm demeanor.

  14. Kylie w Warszawie Avatar
    Kylie w Warszawie

    Hubby and I also hardly ever fight. And for some reason we always wind up with the friends who fight ALL THE TIME.

    Once, we went to Budapest to visit some of the aforementioned friends, and when Hubby parked the car there was no room for me to get out. I said, “Um, you’re too close on this side.” And he was like “Fine! I’m too close.” He backed up and said, “Are you happy now? You can get out of the car!” And my friend said, “YAY! They’re going to fight!!!” I said, “Thank you. I can get out.”

    She was disappointed.

    But she’s never seen us clean. Cleaning is what will destroy our marriage.

  15. J and J Acres Avatar
    J and J Acres

    I think bacon was the first food Mr. C and I disagreed about. I said that cooking it in the microwave was fine, he declared that he would never eat bacon cooked in a microwave. I won that battle.

    I like the idea of making wikipedia pages so that you’re right. I may need to use that! 🙂

  16. furiousBall Avatar

    guffawing is not the wing of a guffaw

    and that first thing is a fucking potato

  17. phd in yogurtry Avatar
    phd in yogurtry

    Way to ruin a baked potato, groomey man.

    And noodles, for that matter.

    My husb worked a stint in Cinci and he said it didn’t matter what they put the chili on top of, it was horrible. It tasted all cinnamon like.

  18. Jill Avatar

    In Hoosier-land, we put the pasta IN the chili when we’re cooking it. Elbow macaroni was the favorite where I grew up, but I’ve heard other pasta shapes do just as well.

  19. Voyager Avatar

    So glad you patched it up. How would you have told your kids you were divorcing but it wasn’t their fault, it was the Chili.

  20. Logophile Avatar

    It all makes perfect sense!
    heh heh

  21. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    He did not see that in Gourmet, although it may have been in a culinary Book of the Dead.

    If you figure out your digital camera, please let me know. I bought a Nikon Coolpix and am utterly intimidated by it. It apparently can take movies, shovel snow and make coffee simultaneously and I have no idea how to do any of it.

    I really hate it when inanimate objects are smarter than I am.

  22. Pam Avatar

    God it’s funny. The post. The comments. The final straw stuff. The couple down the street divorced. The argument over cleaning a big fat bird dropping off the car finally did it.I often think if that bird knew, it would have pointed it’s rear end in a completley different direction.I really enjoyed this because today was our 28th wedding anniversary and I could relate to everything here.So funny.Come by and pick up an award I have for you Jocelyn because your blog is just great!

  23. kimber the wolfgrrrl Avatar
    kimber the wolfgrrrl

    My mom used to put macaroni noodles IN chili all the time, and it was mighty, mighty good.

    I have only recently (like, in the last 3 days) discovered the Flight of the Conchords, and I am in love. To read of them here speaks of great universal resonance.

  24. pistols at dawn Avatar
    pistols at dawn

    We should all have such arguments about regional cuisine. However, despite me being half Scandinavian Midwestern stock, and thus partly taciturn, the drunken Irish half seems to predominate, making all fights scopeless and unfettered by reason.

    Thus, the second kind of sparks usually lead to things being said that ensure the first kind of sparks will never again fly.

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