It’s been four months since I retired, he thought, as he watched his wife Ella get ready to go to work. She’s got another two plus years to go and then maybe we can travel more. Hope I last that long.
“It’s too bad your usual foursome isn’t available,” Ella said. “Why don’t you go out by yourself? Get in some practice.”
“Not so much fun playing alone, especially in the rain,” he replied, “And I doubt that I’m going to improve much even if I played everyday.” Yeah, he thought, Tom’s sick with something, Dick’s gone to Vegas, and Harry’s still working—six years younger and he outdrives us by forty yards.”
“Well, I hope you don’t get bored. Maybe you can go shopping. Just don’t buy a whole new set of clubs.”
“You know what I think of shopping,” he said.
“Yes, I know,” she laughed. “Well, I should be home the usual time. If you’re still planning to cook dinner, please don’t leave the kitchen a mess.”
He got up from his cereal and walked with her to the door to the garage, arm around her waist. Too bad you have to go to work, he thought. She turned to kiss him and he pulled her tight to him.
“Now stop that,” she said. “We’ll see about tonight if you’re not all worn out by retirement, tiger. And if you are going out you’d better wipe off that lipstick first.”
“Grrrrr,” he said and gave her one final squeeze, then watched her get into the car, back down the driveway, pause to check for traffic and head off with windshield wipers beating.
No rush, no where to go. Oh yeah, still have to shop for dinner fixings. Later when the rain lets up. Might as well have second cup of coffee. It was lukewarm. Microwave. Check the news and the market. It’s been crazy erratic lately. Sit tight, that’s what Tom advised. Don’t even think of day trading. He walked into the living room, picked up the remote, and switched on the news and then the market report. Politicians flaying each other. Playing ‘gotcha.’ Hey—what about doing the people’s business for a change? Market—up a couple hundred one day and down more the next. Why? He became bored with the churning and commentary—like weather forecasters—all over the place and they have short memories about what they said the week before. Bahhh.
‘Nuff of that; let’s see what’s on the cooking channel. He’d discovered the cooking channel during his first month at home and it had unearthed a previously buried desire to cook that surprised Ella and him. It inspired him to Google recipes that he kept in a binder in his office space. And tonight he was going to try out a new one—orange glazed pork roast with cranberries. But first I’ll check out what the food pros are doing today.
There were no new inspirations and so he decided to stick with his original plan and he began to draw up a list of what he needed, first checking through the cabinets to see what they already had and what he needed to buy. Because he was not familiar with how Ella had set up her kitchen and pantry, it took him a while to do. It’s so disorganized, he thought. Not sensibly laid out. Why is sugar stored on a different shelf from honey? Now curious, he looked more analytically at how the dishes and cookware were stored. No logic either. They could be stored by frequency or type of use or by size and weight or by meal. Now they’re kind of random.
Oh well, fix myself some lunch first and then a little rest. Might as well enjoy the perks of retirement. And then to the market.
Lunch was leftover meatloaf in a sandwich. Ella makes a great meatloaf. Guess I’ll leave that to her to do. Don’t try to compete with what’s done so well. He made another pot of coffee to go with the sandwich. Almost out of mustard. Add to the list.
A short nap, to the sound of the rain dripping off the eaves. I was going to put up gutters he thought before he fell asleep. When he woke, it was still raining. He decided not to wait but to shop anyway. Armed with his list he set off.
Later that afternoon, he carefully laid out the cookware he would need, and then the ingredients for the glaze. He washed and prepped the salad, covered the bowl with plastic wrap and stored it in the fridge. One down. The potatoes would go in before the pork, so he washed them and set them aside.
Okay, I’ve got some time before I need to heat up the oven. Let’s see if I can store the cookware in a more useful way. Put all the frying pans together. The heavy pots should go on the bottom shelf. Aluminum and stainless steel? Material doesn’t matter—store them by use. Accompanied by a lot of clanging, he rearranged the shelves, happy with the thought that he was making things easier for Ella and himself by establishing a system.
He began to set the table and concluded that the dishes too needed a better storage system. I can do that while the pork is roasting. His timing was impeccable and he finished the job just before the roast and potatoes were due to come out. All those dishes are heavy he thought; back’s a little sore. But wait till Ella sees what I’ve done for her. I won’t tell her, I’ll let it be a surprise.
He heard the car tires squish up the driveway in the rain and went to open the door to the garage, greeting Ella with a hug and a long kiss. “Dinners almost ready. You’re just in time to wash up and eat.”
“That smells really good. I am really hungry,” Ella said. “And you didn’t left the sink area a mess!”
“Well I do try to remember what you tell me,” he said.
Ella came back after washing up and changing. “Oh, wine too. And not our box wine. You have gone all out, Tommy.”
“Got to take good care of the breadwinner.”
“This is really delicious. Roasted just right, tender with a little bit of pink. Did you get the recipe from the cooking show? You’ll have to do this again when we have friends over.”
“Sorry no dessert except for coffee and cookies.”
“That was so good. You are definitely not worn out by retirement. As you wash the pots and pans, I’ll dry and put them away
“You sure you don’t want to just rest?”
“No, you made dinner, I’ll help clean up.”
He waited for her reaction when she opened the cabinet. She’ll be so surprised he thought happily as she pulled the door open.
“Surprise!” he said. I arranged everything so that it’ll work better for you.”
“Well, what do you think?” he prompted.
“Thomas, I am counting from one to ten. I don’t know whether to scream or cry or laugh. “
“You mean don’t like it?”
“Tommy, how could you do this without asking me?”
“It just came to me today as I was getting ready to do dinner. I thought it would streamline your work.”
“Oh Tommy. I guess you meant well, but you forgot to do what you did when you were working. To always survey the consumers first to see what they really want. That’s me!”
Ella began to smile and then laugh at how crestfallen he looked and sounded and the absurdity of it all, “Come on, I’ll clear the table and you load the dishwasher. Then I’ll show you where to put things back to where I’m used to finding them. You did fix a really nice dinner. I’ll give you a hand. Don’t want to wear you out, tiger.”