What’s not to like about an offer like that, you say? Let me tell you. That simple sentence is a loaded minefield. One false step and, Boom! Here’s the analysis:
“Hey” – friendly attention getter. Warning! Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!
“I’m going to make chili tonight” – Establishing the playing field. Do you want to play? (see above warning)
“if that’s alright by you.” – Translation: Do these pants make my butt look big?
There are several responses to this statement, each with its own consequence.
a. “Noooooooo! Get out of the kitchen right now!” Boom!
b. “Thanks, honey, but how about I make the chili?” Boom!
c. “Uh, didn’t you make chili last year?” Boom!
d. “Thanks, that would be nice.” Tick, tick, tick tick…
Coward that I am, I chose answer “d” and awaited the moment the ticking stopped.
After much clanking around in the kitchen all went quiet for about half an hour. Tick, tick, tick, tick…
“Yes, light of my life?”
“Would you please check the chili and adjust the seasoning? It seems sort of bland to me.”
…tick, tick, tick…Boom!
Lifting the lid I could detect chili powder, a little garlic and not much else. Water, tomatoes, onions; it all looked very unhappy. Yep, a bad case of bland. This was a chili emergency. Quickly, I added a can of tomato paste, a little salt, pinch of sugar, ton of garlic powder. Still, something was lacking. I knew the answer but I enquired.
“Dumplings, did you add any cumin?” I asked as I shook several tablespoons of cumin into the chili. It was already looking happier.
“Cumin? Oh, no, never. I hate cumin. Always have. I’d never put cumin in chili.”
Well, this response gave me a severe case of whiplash. What? I’ve been loading down my Prize Winning Chili with cumin for years. Decades, even.
“What do you mean no cumin, Sweetie Pie? I’ve been putting cumin in chili for 20 years! After all that time how can you say you’re off cumin?”
“I’ve had it up to here with cumin,” raising her palm to her nose.
“Now you tell me?”
“Better late than never.”
“You’ve had it up to here with cumin,” and I placed my palm against my nose, meanwhile shaking cumin into the chili for all I was worth.
“Yep, that’s about it.”
“I see. OK. Well, I’ll get back to adjusting the spices in the chili, and, uh, I’ll skip the cumin this time. Yessiree, no cumin. Nope, this is a Cumin Free Zone.”
I lifted the lid and took a deep whiff of the chili. Pure cumin. Glorious cumin. Forbidden cumin! Thinking fast I asked myself, I said “Self, what’s the opposite of cumin?” and self answered “Nutmeg.”
So, I dumped a load of nutmeg into the chili, gave it a stir and let it ripen for an hour.
Much later as the chili was served there were purring noises coming from around the table.
“Hey, Dad, best chili ever!”
“Don’t thank me,” I said, “it’s Mom’s chili.”
The Voice looked up after serving herself seconds and said, “And you know the best thing? After all these years he finally learned to get the spices right. No cumin!”
…tick, tick, tick, tick…Dud.