Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Marks in the butter
Because it is now officially my birthday (by mere minutes - I should be in bed) I have decided to blog now while I have the chance. Tomorrow (today, actually) promises to be a very busy workday, then we are going out to dinner. Yes, to dinner. In an ill-fated moment of delerium, I decided to call up my family and invite them out to pay for their own dinner in celebration of my 35th year on this planet. How nice of me. But since we will be "unavailable" over the weekend and next week, my husband insists we do SOMETHING. Luckily I came to my senses before I could call and invite MIL. No, we will save the hour or two of listening to her sob because we are going away for a few days for Friday. That way the trauma will be fresh in our minds when we leave. What trip you say? Never mind. It's not important. I still have to work. Instead of being connected here, I will be connected there and my calls will be forwarded. For all intents and purposes, I will be here even though I am there. Only the weather will be nicer and Ruby will be sleeping on a different head while we are gone. I was looking over some pictures, and showing DH and DD all the nice cakes my mother made for us on birthdays. There are some good things that came of my childhood, and cakes were one of them. She "made" us parties. Never complained. She did it all, planned it and bought it and made it and arranged it, smiling through it all like it was second nature. There was never a question about WHETHER there would be a party, but rather WHAT KIND of party did we want. There were no real themes then, not like now. But we could decide the food, or the colours, and the cake design if we wanted. Aside from birthday pictures, there are literally hundreds of "dinner" pictures. Just every day dinners. Dinners in the kitchen on my mother's every day plates with the little green circles around the rim, water in wine glasses, a proper place setting at each place even if we were only having make-your-own sub sandwiches. Always always always a fork, knife and spoon in proper arrangement around the plate. Whether you used it or not, it was set at the table and treated as dirty after dinner was done. I admit, this is something that stuck because I usually set the same table as force of habit. Drives DH nuts to always get a knife and spoon he won't use, and that I will not allow him to place them back in the silverware drawer as 'clean'. "They have touched the table" I say, pointing towards the dishwasher. It's funny that I retained this, when there are other habits of hers that I have rebelled against and taken up the exact opposite. For example I don't care if the butter dish is neat and crumb free (dh is picky about this, I tell him to get his own container then. He decides to live with it ROFL). Growing up, we used margarine. Sometimes from a tub, sometimes an unwrapped block (remember those 1/2 cup blocks in gold foil? They're back, BTW lol). Butter was reserved for special occasions only (read for the GUESTS). Because she hated trying to spread it while cold, it was usually left open on the counter, and brought to the table for each meal. Mom was very particular that there not be marks from steak knives or fork tines (butter knives only please). And that butter knife was NOT to touch the bread and then go back into the container or touch the block - no sirree. That would leave crumbs. You used the butter knife next to the margarine to scoop some out onto the bread plate, and you used the butter knife next to your place setting to then spread said product on your bakery item. Any smudge on the plate was easily taken care of with the last bite of crust - *swipe*. I can't tell you how many times she flew into a rage, upon discovery of "marks in the butter!". I am not sure what bothered me more, when she called the margarine butter - or when she called it 'mar-ja-reen'. But I digress. Ahem. Dad would beg us. PLEAD with us. JUST STOP ABUSING THE BUTTER. She won't freak out if we use it properly and not leave marks. Every night he would smooth over the margarine to make sure there would be no early-hour screeches and dragging-of-kids-out-of-beds by their hair. Thanks dad. But still, come morning, there would be marks. He would shake his head in disappointment at us while mother raged and ranted and pinched and pulled and slapped. It must have been one of us. MUST have. Years later (way after regular meals together disappeard but while we all still lived at home) I caught the cat up on the counter licking the margarine. And lo and behold - MARKS. Marks that looked suspiciously like those my mother freaked out about almost daily. No wonder the cat always had such a shiny coat and rarely touched her food. She was living on margarine. I kept that information to myself, and started putting the butter in the cupboard (on top of the dinner plates) every night. And while there was little risk of another night of outraged screaming and being forced to say the rosary on our knees until somebody "confessed" - it had been years since my mother touched bread, let alone something to spread on it (remind me another time to talk about our years of diets)..........well let's just say I know where cats walk (read litterbox) and how they clean those dirty paws (read with the same tongue that was leaving marks in the Imperial). I suppose one day this secret will be spilled to my family(they all are, eventually). And there will be screaming and laughing, maybe some hard feelings about how we were treated and accused for all those years. Some of the punishments were cruel, to say the least. And I will insist I didn't tell because after all the cat WAS mine and I didn't want her to be sent away. And what purpose would it have served for everybody to know about it, so much time had passed and we were at a different stage in life. I am sure I will come up with something convincing. I think maybe I haven't told for all these years just for the satisfaction of KNOWING something they don't. And still, I have not decided what was more damaging to my psyche. Mother blaming us for the marks in the butter (and her finding the marks every day I am sure did not help her mental illness) when it wasn't us. Dad not supporting nor defending us. Or the fact that, being the germaphobe I am especially with "bathroom issues", knowing we regularly ate margarine that a cat licked. Nightmares, my friends. Nightmares.