Monday, April 5, 2010

Airport 4

The short drive home from the airport had his head swinging two directions. It wanted to weep over Harrison’s departure but the relief from Jill being no longer around was so great it overrode any hope of tears. Mac got home and cleaned the house.

He started in the kitchen where he rearranged the contents in the pantry so it was easier for him to see and grab oft used things. Jill had her kitchen arranged just the way she wanted. He didn’t have to think of it as her kitchen anymore.

Funny thing that. When they first got married Mac would help out in the kitchen often; food preparation, cooking, washing up, and so on. He’d take the time to prepare an amazing spinach pie every week and it was often the case that when they had guests Mac would be the one to produce the desserts like Pavlova, a cheesecake, or a chocolate something. But Jill always called it her kitchen – not their kitchen – and as time went by Mac got more and more the impression that she believed her own publicity in this regard.

Jill had always had her way of doing things but Mac didn’t see how it was necessary for her to tell him how to peel potatoes, or cut carrots, or how to wash a plate. But that was what she did and he just went along with it. She overlooked the fact that he had been doing it since he was a little boy when Shirley had left and he found himself as the family’s chief cook and bottle washer.

At various stages of their marriage Mac had tried to tell Jill that he knew how to do things in the kitchen but she went on regardless. Mac giggled quietly to himself one day when Jill was telling Harrison how to wash lettuce and Harrison said, “Mum, you can tell me what to do, or how to do it, but not both.” Jill had called out to Mac to come and deal with his son but Mac pretended he hadn’t heard the conversation.

The sad thing was that over time they had spent less and less time in the kitchen doing things together. Quite a contrast to when they were first sharing a house. Back then they had often delighted in acting on the quote they’d heard from some marriage expert that sex begins in the kitchen. They’d tried that out plenty of times initially but eventually that came to an end too as Mac found it easier to avoid the kitchen than tolerate Jill’s bossiness.

Later, on one of his Thursday evening suppers with his good friends, Joy and Carey, Mac shared this story and Carey laughed heartily. He then related to Mac a time when Mac and Jill had been over at their house and Carey was preparing a stir-fry for them to share. Jill couldn’t resist and had proceeded to tell Carey exactly how he ought to cut his vegetables.

Eventually the hostilities between Jill and Mac had grown to a quiet smolder and when she had recently begun to tell him how she wanted the sink cleaned down he put down the cleaning sponge and spray bottle, took off the rubber gloves and said, “I know how to clean a sink, but you can do it your way yourself.” He left the kitchen and headed to the patio with a beer in his hand.

“No need to act like a victim,” she called after him. Mac’s skills at ignoring her were getting better. He knew this because he smiled.

Now as he cleaned out the pantry he wondered if she’d like her four bottles of Paprika and two boxes of cornstarch. He kept the freshest of everything and threw the rest into the trash. And when the kitchen was cleaned and reorganized into ‘his’ kitchen he moved on through the remainder of the house. Mac scrubbed the bathrooms, polished the woodwork, and dusted down the sills. He even vacuumed the carpets although he strongly suspected that the cheap vacuum cleaner they had picked up at a discount store had never done anything other than noisily push the carpet pile around.

Mac went to sleep that night and slept the sleep of the weary and had escaped the need to think about where his emotions were. He had crawled into bed around 2am and knew he would have to be up in time to get to work. The only thing he had in the back of his mind as he drifted off to la-la land was that he hadn’t looked in Jill’s walk-in closet. He was pretty sure there were plenty of things in there that he’d have to deal with but he decided that three hours sleep would barely be enough to be sane the following day and he could leave the closet door closed until he was ready to sort things out.