My friend Jane, a fellow voice actress, invited me over for dinner tonight. Jane is the friend I wrote about in a prior post, who’s getting married in July. The one who attracts men willy nilly, while I’m still working up the nerve to maybe consider online dating.
I predict Jane’s marriage will be OK because tonight she’s cooking something her fiance can’t stand to smell. She’s doing it this weekend because he’s not home. This shows impressive empathy and kindness on her part; a lovely little bonus in marriage. He’s a lucky guy.
Since Jane’s got me thinking about marriage, and spring is the time of year when many young couples pledge their troth, I thought this would be a good time to offer the single, finest piece of marriage advice my mom ever gave me.
I answered the phone one sunny L.A. afternoon in the early 80s and heard the lifeless, disgusted tone my mother used when she was fed up. (Think Eyore on a bad day.) She was totally miserable but feigning contentment – badly. Her mature self didn’t want to burden me with her problems, but her mature self lost these battles almost instantly. It generally took her about 15 seconds to explode.
“Hallo Frenzy.” (Lifeless tone)
“Hi Ma!, how ya doing?”
“Oh, Imma okay.” (Lifeless tone)
“What’s the matter, you don’t sound too good.”
“No, Imma okay.” (Lifeless tone)
“Come on Ma, you sound like you’re half dead, what’s wrong?”
“Nading, really…Imma okay.” (Lifeless tone)
“Well, it doesn’t sound like it but if you say everything’s all right…”(I started talking about something in my life, only to be cut off, razor sharp by):
“It’s a your stingin fodder (father)!” she exploded, like a volcano. “He makes a me sake (sick)!
My father was one of the sweetest, gentlest, calmest men in the world. But after nearly fifty years of marriage, he was a master at pushing my mother’s buttons. And when her button was pushed she always called to tell me her side of the story.
She was hiding downstairs, trying to whisper so my father couldn’t hear her talking on the phone, but whispering isn’t something Italian women are known for, and he caught her within seconds. So, dad was on the phone upstairs, giving his side of the story while she recounted hers downstairs.
Since this seemed to be a fresh battle, not a rehash of a previous argument, I tried to find out what happened before judging.
“So what did Dad do now?” I asked.
“He watches avery pickin a ting I do!” (every cotton picking)
“Eeeffa I lay down a, he says a someting. Avery time I eatta he says a someting. He watches a me alla da time. I can’d even a make a fort (fart) widoud a him openen hissa big a moud! Frenzy, I’m a tellin ya rite a now, you’re a young a gal a. Honey, fort a while you can, cause wonze you getta married, eets a too late!”
It left me speechless and I think it’s worth passing on. My mom was no Emily Post when it came to marriage etiquette, but she must have known something because my parents were married for 52 years when she passed away. A good marriage involves a lot of hard work, give and take, laughter, tears and apparently a little gas. If you’re lucky it’ll be mostly laughter.
So, Jane and all you soon-to-be brides out there, take heed. This is one piece of marriage advice that could come in handy, but I doubt you’ll find it in Brides Magazine.
Jane’s recipe for Lemon Garlic Mustard Chicken — from a book called,”365 Ways to Cook Chicken by Cheryl Sedaker.
- 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) lemon juice
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp (1 ml) freshly ground pepper
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
- 1 2-1/2 oz (70 grm). package sliced or slivered almonds
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) butter or margarine
- 1 cup (225 ml) chicken broth
- 1 tsp (5 ml) cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tbsp (15 ml) water
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper (Jane didn’t use this in hers.)
- lemon slices, for garnish
- Place chicken in large shallow baking dish (or bowl).
- Combine lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Beat in oil; pour over chicken.
- Marinate 1 hour at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 C.).
- Place almonds in a small baking pan.
- Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Drain chicken, reserving marinade.
- In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium heat.
- Add chicken and cook about 4 minutes a side, until lightly browned; remove to a dish.
- Add reserved marinade and chicken broth to pan.
- Boil over high heat, stirring, until the sauce reduces by half, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth.
- Add parsley and cayenne pepper.
- Reduce heat, return chicken to pan, and heat through.
- Transfer chicken to a serving platter and pour sauce over all.
- Sprinkle toasted almonds over chicken and garnish with lemon slices.