Before I got married I had a decent job in "LA" (Lower Alabama). I was living in a little two bedroom "Kelly" trailer which was barely a step up from a school bus converted into a motorhome, but I was content. It's the female part of the species that ended up domesticating us men anyhow. If it wasn't for women, we'd be content with a sleeping bag out in the weeds. I must admit that we are prone to get a little spoiled though after tasting the goods and conveniences the ladies like.
The picture on the right shows myself, my wife, and an almost new born Simeon Langham in front of our little "Kelly" trailer. Simeon is the oldest child of Dwayne and Penny who are close friends, and have stayed with us more than once during our married life. The door is still open Dwayne, if you ever need a place to stay or just want to come by for a visit.
I had a brother in the Lord (Brother #1) show up and stay with me for awhile at the little Kelly trailer pre-marriage. Over all we had some pretty good times. He taught me a recipe that he liked involving pork chops where he would marinate the pork chops in italian salad dressing before cooking them. We tried it and I liked it, so I added his recipe to the list of things I'd cook.
While I enjoyed Brother #1's visit and company, he had a pretty good deal going on I thought. I had a good job, so I allowed him to stay rent free while I bought groceries and paid bills. I'd have to go to work for a little bit everyday, while Brother #1 had free run of the place. He enjoyed both humming and singing Psalm 133
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forever.
Overall life was pretty good. We had some good fellowship and did some neat things. However...
I get home from work one day and I'm sitting at the dinning table looking at a sink stacked high with dirty dishes. The thought then occurs to me that I had been washing waaaaaaaaaaaay more than my fair share of dishes lately. While I'm sitting there looking at the stack of dirty dishes with some displeasure, the Lord gives me a vision and takes me on a journey to the pearly gates.
As I approach the pearly gates I notice Saint Peter the proverbial greeter. When Saint Peter noticed me, his countenance turned super happy and he said, "Wow Dave! You made it! It is so good to see you. Come on up in here. We have a great place for you to stay..." As he extended his arm with a wave to point out a beautiful mansion. Saint Peter continued saying, "This is your Brother #1's" mansion, and you have free run of the whole place. The only thing that will be required of you is to simply take care of all the dishes."
Wow! Just take care of all the dishes... I wasn't too happy about that at the moment considering I'd been the only one taking care of all of the dishes and everything else so it seemed. Taking care of everything except for his personal laundry. Now that would have been some serious foot washing. How pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity... Actually things had seemed pretty happy and pleasant until this moment. Given how I was feeling at the moment, I looked at Saint Peter and said, "That seems worse than going to hell."
Saint Peter's countenance dropped from happy to extremely sad as he said, "Well David if that is how you feel, then maybe that's where you need to go."
I thought about it for a little bit, then I resolved myself to do the dishes. I ran a sink and put my hand to the task. My peace had returned. I got about halfway through the stack of dishes when I felt the Lord's gentle voice say, "Okay David, you can talk to Brother #1 about this problem now."
I finished the dishes and when the opportunity arrived I broached the subject of the dishes with Brother #1. He seemed to receive it well, but a day or two later he told me he was ready to move on. And so, he was soon gone.
After Brother #1 left Brother #2 showed up. When the topic of kitchen duties came up, Brother #2 said, "I do all the cooking, you do all the cleaning. Sounds fair to me."
Now this is another small tall tale about how it came about, but when I cook I clean as I go. When I sit down for a meal I already have a sink run and knock out my dishes immediately after eating. I start with a clean kitchen and finish with a clean kitchen as long as no one else has started a stack of dirty dishes. So, I told Brother #2 that his cooking and me cleaning system wouldn't work for me because I clean as I go as I cook and there is no super large mess to clean up. Isn't it amazing how some cooks seem to get every item in the kitchen dirty as they create their wonder? Anyhow, we worked it out and things seemed to work well.
While Brother #2 was there I fixed the pork chop recipe Brother #1 had taught me. Brother #2 appeared to like the meal. A week or so later we found our selves in the grocery store ready to stock up on a fresh supply of necessities. The subject came up as to what we should get and I asked Brother #2 if he liked pork chops. Brother #2 said, "Let me count the ways I like pork chops!" There seemed to be a bunch of them, so I made up my mind that we'd get some. And..., as I walked by the salad dressings I reached my hand out to grab a bottle of italian for the marinating part of the recipe I knew and thought he liked.
OUCH! When Brother #2 saw what I was reaching for it was like I stuck my hand into a hot fire. Well, the truth was now known about how he really felt about that recipe Brother #1 had taught me. Brother #2 had simply tried to be polite and not show his true feeling about how he felt about the meal until he was faced with having to suffer through it again. We didn't get any pork chops. We settled for something else, and I was glad to know that from now on I wouldn't be fixing something I thought he liked while he silently suffered through it.
Shortly after my wife and I got married she told me a story about a precious old couple that are good friends with her parents; Emily and Sterling Lacy. Emily thought Sterling liked collard greens, so she fixed them for him. He always ate them. After thirty years of marriage Emily fixed collard greens and Sterling said, "You know, after all these years of eating collard greens I think I finally learned to like them."
Emily said, "You what!" Neither one of them really liked collard greens in the beginning. He ate them cause he thought she liked them. She cooked them and ate them because she thought he liked them. Both being polite silently suffered through them for years.
After my wife told me that story stacked on top of the italian dressing marinated pork chop story, I made up my mind that I wasn't going to go through thirty years of eating something I didn't like. So, I established a three menu system in our home.
The only thing my wife could cook when we first married was lasagna. She did a mighty fine job too. I told her, "Baby, this is pretty good. You can put it on the guest menu and also fix it for me anytime you want too."
A little while later she experimented with something knew. It wasn't near as good as the lasagna, but it was tolerable, so I told her, "Baby, I wouldn't put this on the guest menu, but it is okay for me, so you can cook it anytime you want to for just us for sustenance."
Then the day came when she cooked something that to me was like the italian dressing marinated pork chops were to Brother #2. I said, "Baby, please don't do this one again." My sweetheart always received that bit of news with displeasure. The nerve of me to dislike something she put so much time and effort into, but I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to politely suffer through something I didn't like.
Over the years my sweetheart has become a pretty good cook. We still have only the three things on the menu: quest quality items, sustenance only items, and please don't do it again items. The last time I recall her fixing a please don't do it again item, it was a meatloaf. I don't know what she had done to this particular meatloaf, but it was bad. After a taste, I looked at her and said, "Baby, please don't do this again." After all the time and loving effort she had put into that meatloaf, she was p.o'd at my displeasure. She turned her nose up, huffed over to the table, picked the meatloaf up and huffed over to the corner of the room where she placed it on the floor for the dog. The dog then walked over and took a whiff, then promptly walked away quite obviously not willing to touch that stuff either.
My wife thought, "Hmm, maybe Dave knows what he is talking about."
Well, it's not hard to know what you like and don't like, but our precious princesses need to know that they are still appreciated for all their hard effort. So, do you show that appreciation by silently suffering through what you dislike? Not this kid! There has got to be a better way.
So, how do you like your pork chops? If I'm going to take the time to fix you something I certainly don't want to waste my time by fixing something you dislike. So, please let me know what you think of the meal. It won't hurt my feelings if you dislike something. After all we all have different tastes with things we like and dislike. Sometimes they coincide, and sometimes they don't. And, it is nice to know that if I'm trying to do something special just for you that it truly is special. So don't be shy or unnecessarily polite. Life's too short to fake it when you can make it right.