“I’m tired of pretending.”
These were the words I heard from my husband while we sat by the edge of an closed-for-the-season swimming pool in South Carolina over the holiday break. The kids were getting dressed in the locker room after an hour on the tennis court. It was the last week of December and the sun was white in the lonely winter sky.
“Really?” I say. “So that’s it? Fifteen years of marriage and I find this out now?”
“Well, this is important — it’s our first vacation dinner and I don’t want to ruin it by pretending that I like what’s on the table.”
I had just told him I was thinking of making some kind of pork and sweet potato stew with hominy — a riff on a recipe Victoria Granof had developed for Time for Dinner.
“You could’ve told me before now,” I said, at this point more confused than angry. “All those sweet potato fries? All those Thanksgiving mashes with oranges?” The room narrowed and widened simultaneously. The many sweet potato moments in our lives together started pulsing before me like a scene from Run Lola Run. “Your father’s birthday party in our first apartment!” I said, louder than I had intended to. It was one of the first times we had ever entertained, rotating our scrappy desk sideways against the wall to create a makeshift dining room table. “We made Emeril’s Three Potato Lasagna that night — and you ate every bite!”
His eyes were fixed a heron gliding across a lagoon. He said nothing.
“You’re telling me all this time you never liked sweet potatoes?”
“Nope. Not really. Cloying. Overpowering. Too sweet. Like dessert, only bad.” Pause. “Figured I’d tell you before we go shopping. I’m tired of acting like sweet potatoes are good.”
The heron landed on a small upturned log in the lagoon. His eyes scanned the water, like he was looking for some lunch.
“And what about hominy?” I asked. “Should I even bother?” The girls were coming out of the locker room, their hair smooth and brushed in the front, but gnarly and knotted in the back where they couldn’t reach. I looked at him.
“Why don’t you just let me go shopping,” he said. (more…)