• Richard Scrimger

complements to the chef

My friend Don is an excellent cook, a bit of a perfectionist in the kitchen (gee, is that possible? Is perfectionism relative? Like calling something mildly unique. He really is a perfectionist, but I don't want him to sound weird), which his wife is not. It's not that she can't cook. Her meals are less frequent and more casual than his, but quite tasty. Her gift is appreciation. She loves Don's food. His face lights up when she praises his craft. The set-up works really well. You might say that he's a tireless giving person and she a carefree lazybones, or that he's a compulsive control freak and she a self-denying saint. Neither description fits. They are both happy. And lucky to have found each other. I don't know about opposites attracting -- I think it might be more like an awareness of different gifts. Robertson Davies described his relationship with his wife in a phrase (I don't have the interview in front of me, and I'm not going to bother to look it up) something like, We complement each other. She can drive, and I can spell. Me, I'm tidy. I'm not a clean freak -- not at all. I mean, I shower and change my clothes every now and then, but I can stare at the same small stain on the door for days (in fact, I'm staring at it now) without feeling compelled to wipe it off. A pile of laundry, on the other hand, affects me viscerally. When I see a stack of dirty dishes or a sprawl of magazines, I shiver. Returning from a trip, having left my teenage daughter in charge of the house, I find myself moving towards various offending areas in a haze, muttering like a superhero under my breath, Must ... put away. Thea is not tidy. (I wonder how she'll do next year at university, in a room about the size of our shower stall? I figure she'll either adopt neatness, or suffocate.) What kind of person would complement my tidy gift? Someone who would vacuum, maybe. Hmmm. Not bad. So to all my friends out there who have been offering to set me up: my ideal partner would be clean. Of course, knowing how to spell would be an asset too.

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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada