I tell him, why yes, in fact, there is something I want at the store. I would like some Jif peanut butter and some bananas. I’m trying to spice up my otherwise monotonous lunch break. I am one of those people who will eat the same, exact lunch every day for 180 days.
Yes, 180 days. In my real life, my Clark Kent life, I am a teacher. Clark Kent likes the same lunch every day. Clark Kent has twenty minutes to throw something down his gullet, so delighting the palate is of little concern. Clark does not exist in the summer, hence there is no lunch in the summer. In the summer, I do not eat lunch. I do not need to. I live off my super powers.
But I digress. I want to incorporate a peanut butter and banana sandwich into my lunch routine and by the time my kind, loving husband returns home I am as excited about this sandwich as The Tea Party was about John Boehner resigning the speakership.
And then I see the Skippy.
I’m crying, Boehner-like, on the inside and I ask my wonderful husband:
“Peanut butter,” he replies, pulling me close and kissing me.
“Didn’t I say Jif?” I ask, smiling, still smiling, my glittering lunch dreams turning to dust on the island butcher block.
My husband coaches the Mock Trial team at his school. Yes, he’s a teacher too, but he teaches at a private school where they have four-course, gourmet lunches free for teachers and students that do their homework and keep their butts safely stowed out of sight in their pants.
He is using his Mock Lawyer voice now as he tells me that I did not specify the exact peanut butter brand in my request. Thankfully, I know a thing or two about lawyering and, since my husband and I do not speak to each other much, I produce and submit the textual evidence wherein I specified the product brand Jif by name.
Somehow my dear, sweet, otherwise intelligent husband cannot understand what the big deal is.
Mind you, I have lived with this man every day for over a year now.
“I don’t like Skippy.”
“Peanut butter is peanut butter.”
“No it’s not. Skippy sucks.”
“They taste exactly the same.”
“No they don’t. Choosy mothers choose Jif.”
“You’re not going to eat it?”
At this point I wouldn’t eat that Skippy peanut butter if I had just spent the winter on the Donner pass.
What can I say? I like what I like. Otherwise I would’ve texted in the generic.
I think my problem (and now my husband’s problem), is I am an only child. I grew up in the contented splendor of my own quiet kingdom where everything, or so it seemed anyway, was either for me, about me, or mine. And we ate Jif peanut butter.
Now before you go thinking that I was Veruca Salt in the chocolate factory, all spoiled and demanding with the stamping foot, I wasn’t. I might have been spoiled, but I was really quite pleasant about it. I didn’t demand things or pitch a fit or throw myself on the floor in the toy department at Grant’s. I didn’t have to. Things just came to me, like magic.
I had my own room with a canopy bed and pink shag carpet, a groovy bike with Hi-Rise handlebars and a flaming banana seat, and Barbie’s three-foot, three-story Townhouse with working elevator. I’m pretty sure my mom was reliving her, let’s say, less abundant childhood vicariously through me. My mom didn’t say I love you, she bought it and gave it to you.
I had a lot of stuff, what I didn’t have were siblings. I never had to wait for my brother to get out of the shower. I never had to share my clothes with my sister. I never had to plot the death of my sibling so I could ensure my parents’ undivided affections. I was A New Hope Luke Skywalker, solitary and slightly bored on Tatooine, ignorant of the ways of The Compromise.
But The Compromise was out there – like The Force. And like The Force, The Compromise was everywhere and in everything and I grew tall without an Obi Wan or Yoda to teach me its ways.
And there was that jar of Skippy. That jar of Skippy was Vader, in all of his dark-side splendor, right there on the butcher block island, testing me, baiting me, trying to lure me to the dark-side where I would give in, give up, renounce my allegiance to Jif and in so doing deny my history, my make up, my very soul!
I had to turn away.
A couple of days later, a jar of Jif appeared, like magic, on the kitchen island.
Seems one of us is learning the ways of The Compromise.
Now if I can only get him to stop eating off my plate.