Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Times Apart That Were Just In Time

Despite our closeness and our passion for each other, Marcie and I did spend time apart now and then. There were my trips with various entertainment companies, my degree completion trip, and various little journeys I embarked on, as well as long and painful stretches in multiple jobs, never seeing each other except in notes.

But there were other times apart that had their basis more in relief and vacation. Generally, Marcie engaged in these alone, and by design.

Sometimes they were just in time. Marcie and I would, when left submerged together in our little close-wrapped world, begin to pick at each other over stupid things.

Usually, we were conscious enough to defuse it, but sometimes a little complaint would become a huge problem. A memorably small but malignant example was my preferences in cooking, memories dredged up by my recall of her breakfast tastes. They drove her insane, and for a little while it was a wedge between us.

But if she was insane, I was simply mad. Our styles were in stark contrast, usually to my deep frustration.

Marcie did not understand my need to fry eggs until the yolks were solid. When I explained a family members' love of breaking my over-easy eggs and cutting them on the same plate as pancakes or waffles, ruining them and creating my distaste, I inspired her derision.

"FRANK!" she said. "You can eat a normal fucking egg, no one is going to soak your plate in yolk. Let me cook for you and just sit down and shut up!"

I simply asked her to scramble them from then on. That, however, was not the end of the Breakfast Wars.

She grated at my desire to fry and gobble up bacon up fast, its awful, wonderful smell driving me insane from the second she began to cook it. She liked to cook bacon painstakingly slowly, the salty pork lusciousness of the bacon wafting about for a half hour, or even 40 minutes or more if she was not hungry yet.

For me, it was hellish. I held my tongue but would come out and look, which drover her batty.

"FRANK! I will call you when it's ready, would you just GO AWAY? I am trying to cook!" she screamed one Sunday.

When one day she brought home the delicious and irresistible Hob Nob Cinnamon Roll, I made the ultimate mistake. After waiting a half hour for her to heat it up, I heated mine up in the microwave. She walked in as I took it out, her lips pursed, glaring.

"You couldn't fucking wait, could you?" she asked, crossing her arms. "You were so impatient that I could not even call a friend before you were in here, ruining your cinnamon roll with a microwave. Fine. Enjoy your cinnamon roll. What a nice breakfast we had together, Frank."

With that, she grabbed the other cinnamon roll, still in the box, and dumped it in the trash with a flourish, adding an entire Tupperware full of fresh fruit salad. She crossed her arms as I continued to eat.

"You don't even care," she accused.

"I care," I said. "But I have to work this morning, and I have twenty minutes to be there, so I went ahead and ate."

She grabbed her purse and slammed the door as she left. I wrote her a note and made it worse. "I'll see you after work," I wrote. "I'll eat with the guys, so save the steaks I see you brought down."

I actually won that one. I came home, forgetting to eat with the boys after our gig, and she gave me a hug and kissed my neck. "I'm sorry I forgot you ha to work, and I walked out because I was embarrassed," she said. "But you really drive me crazy with your impatience at breakfast."

"I know, honey," I said. "I apologize, too. But sometimes I feel like you are testing me, and I hope you're not."

It was far from over. After one morning, in which the bacon simmered for an entire hour in the pan, I walked out and saw that she was reading her People magazine. Ingredients for the rest of breakfast were out, but she had stopped when the mailman came with her gossip rag.

"Honey, can I just have some bacon and go?" I asked. "I want to go surfing, and it's getting late."

She tossed her magazine aside and started cussing under her breath. "I cannot believe how fucking impatient you are," she said. "I don't know why I even cook for you, you are such an asshole. You take the joy out of it for me, I hope you know."

I had had enough. I went into the bedroom and changed into my wet suit, grabbed my body board and gear, and headed out to Pacific beach as she cracked eggs and stirred angrily. She followed me out.

"Frank!? Where are you going?" she screamed, then threw up her hands as I walked down to the bus stop where the 30 awaited.

That night she sat me down. "Frank, the impatience has to stop, it is making me very sad," she said, beginning to sniffle.

I let her hold my hands and watched her closely, a little angry at it all. What kind of bullshit is this? I thought to myself.

We bickered over this even more and the waits got longer. Eventually, as the morning cooking process went past 11 a.m. and one and a half hours, I stopped waiting when I could not any longer, and just left, or ate cereal. The mornings grew ever more quiet and angry. Then, one Sunday, Marcie had an announcement over our sullen faces and  shared breakfast.

"I am going to see Jane next week," she said. "I need to get out and have a little vacation. You are driving me crazy."

I nodded and shrugged. She took her plate and mine and that was that. But things would be looking up, and I would soon be grateful to Jane for the ways in which, though she could not know, she was helping me and my beloved girl.