Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Jan. 28, 2014 - 4:09 p.m.

Le Tradition

It was my birthday yesterday.

Since I first got together with NewWifey(tm), back to when she was still just "NewGirlfriend(tm)", I've gotten a piece of Le Creuset cookware from her as a birthday present every year.

This came about because shortly after we met I fatefully mentioned that I missed my mom's big oval flame-colored Le Creuset dutch oven, which could comfortably seat a family of four and weighed about as much. It was the best single piece of kitchen technology I ever used, and I was heartbroken when the thing went to my evil kid sister after my mom died. Evil, I t told her.

Several months later, on my birthday, NewWifey(tm) dropped a festively wrapped 90 pound box in my lap. It was an oval flame-colored Le Creuset dutch oven. Not as big as my mom's, but then again I don't have 5 kids and 14 pet dogs, cats, snakes and rodents to feed. It was perfect.

It was also just the start.

NewWifey(tm), I learned that day, is big on Tradition. If something is a hit one year, it can NEVER BE CHANGED. EVER. Even if better things come along. Even if you've grown to hate so much that you'd rather have your fingernails removed with a blow torch rather than suffer through it again. Even if you beg and plead and wail that there is something you not only want but need in place of the thing you know you'll get. It matters not. It is Tradition. It is the "Fiddler on the Roof" song brought to life.

So the next year I got another Le Creuset dutch oven, in a different size, and another one the year after that. And another. And another. And another. After a while she consented to some variation, mixing it up with a Le Creuset griddle or a Le Creuset roasting pan. But always Le Creuset. In lean years it would be a smaller piece - in the horrible post-Depression aftermath of 2008 - 2011 I got a spatula one year or a set of ramekins - and in fat years I might get a more Brobdingnagian piece (like my kiddie pool sized bouillabaisse pot) or several regular sized ones.

Finally when it got to the point where I had no room to store any more and I was getting pieces I had no earthly use for anyway because she was having to resort to ultra-specialty items like Emu Broasters and 6-Slot Sea Cucumber Cocottes since I had every example of "regular" cookware already, I started lobbying hard for something, anything, other than another Le Creuset for my birthday.

But my protests, whether given as gentle hints or angry denunciations, all fell on deaf ears. "It's tradition" she said. "You're getting Le Creuset.

Now granted, moaning about how one is about to receive YET ANOTHER example of some of the finest cookware produced anywhere in the world is definitely a First World Problem of the First Order. And some of the other Traditions that NewWifey(tm) insists on certainly bug me more. (Our inviolate Thanksgiving menu springs to mind. There can be no deviation, even though one of the dishes - smoked oyster dressing - is strongly hated by everyone and ends up being thrown out untouched year after year.)

Still, it's been weighing more and more heavily on me the past few years as each successive birthday approaches. I want something else.

And this year I got it.

I finally figured out how to stop the dam-busting torrent of French enameled cast iron cookware.

Two weeks ago I sat her down on the couch and said, "If I get Le Creuset cookware again on my birthday, I'm divorcing you."

She looked at me. "And...?"

"And...uh...and I'll tell your mom you threw out the fake aquarium with the plastic fishes that she gave us for Christmas in 2005."

She gasped. "You wouldn't dare."

I didn't say anything. I just got up and walked away while she sat there with her mouth open.

When I got home yesterday NewWifey(tm) was nowhere to be seen. 'She must be out shopping for my birthday present last-minute' I thought. I settled down to re-watch "Archer" episodes until she came home with the goods. "I hope she gets a Black Forest Cake" I said to Casey the Wonder Corgi. "I love Black Forest Cake." Casey farted.

I didn't have long to wait. About 10 minutes later NewWifey(tm) pulled into the driveway and I watched out the front window as she struggled to pull bag after bag from the trunk. None of the bags said "Le Creuset" on the side.

"Good girl" I said. Casey farted.

I held open the door when NewWifey(tm) got to the top landing.

"Get back!" she yelled. "You can't see what I got!"

I laughed. She still hadn't wrapped them. I propped the door open and walked back to the kitchen. NewWifey(tm) hurried the other way down the hall to the bedroom. I could hear the bags bumping and scraping against the wall.

Two minutes later she walked into the kitchen and handed me a bag the size of a lunch sack. "Happy birthday darling" she said, giving me a peck on the cheek.

"What's this?" I said.

"Open it. You'll see!"

I opened it.

Inside was a fish spatula.

"A fish spatula?" I said.

"Yup! she said. "I saw you broke your old one. Pretty nice, huh? And it's not Le Creuset. Are you happy?"

"Well...yeah. I guess. I mean, thanks. I did break my fish spatula, you're right. That was very observant of you." She practically beamed. "But...uh...is that all? Did you get a cake at least? Black Forest, maybe...?"

"Nope. No cake. I know you've been all gung-ho with your diet, and I didn't want to blow it for you. So I got us kale!"

So we had Birthday Kale. That's kale with a candle in it.

After dinner I asked, "So what was with all those sacks you came staggering in with? The ones you didn't want me to see?"

"Oh, them" she said. "I took the money I was saving to get you a Le Creuset tagine and bought myself clothes. You'd die if you saw what I spent."

I looked at her. "A fish spatula?"

"I know, it's nice, isn't it? You're welcome, baby. You're worth it."

And then we got drunk and she gave me a blow job.

Some traditions I don't mind as much as others.



G'night, kids. Don't do anything I wouldn't do year after year after year.

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