I’m starting to realize that having a child can reveal fissures in your marriage you never knew existed. After ten years of marriage, I learned yesterday that my wife believes it’s perfectly acceptable to feed my son an unheated Pop Tart. Yes, you heard it right, unheated.
She served our only child, sole progeny of our genetic code, a raw rectangular tart-filled puck, colloquially known as a Pop Tart. Although most normal inhabitants of Earth intuitively understand the origins of the word Pop Tart, I will now consult the Oxford English Dictionary in case any other visitors from an alternate universe may be reading this blog besides my wife. According to the OED, Pop Tart was first used in 1964 as a “proprietary name for a flat, rectangular pastry with a sweet filling (typically a fruit preserve), intended to be heated in a toaster.” The keyword being, heated.
“Why is Thomas eating an unheated Pop-Tart?” I asked.
“You don’t have to heat the glazed ones. We never did growing up,” responds my wife.
Figures. Over the years, I’ve learned that many of my wife’s bizarro food behaviors trace back to her childhood. My wife says she was raised in the South, but you’d never know it if you tasted her sweet tea, which is so weak it barely raises your glucose levels, much less induces a proper sugar coma like southern sweet tea should. My wife learned her tea recipe from her mom, who apparently misread a recipe somewhere, confusing the part where you’re supposed to add a little water to the sugar and not the other way around.
And my wife’s sweet tea is just the tip of the iceberg–iceberg in this case referring to iceberg lettuce, which she believes is a mere plate garnish, meant to decorate the other more substantive bits in a salad. Honestly, I just feel bad for the poor teenage boy working at Zaxby’s when she orders a grilled chicken salad with “no lettuce.” It’s painful to watch:
His acne reddens. He swipes quickly at the cash register screen. He looks down, stares at the floor awhile. He decides to reconfirm.
“You did say a grilled chicken salad with no lettuce, right?”
“Yes,” she responds.
Now he looks up at the ceiling, eyes closed, as if searching deep within for any memory of an applicable word problem from high school geometry or algebra, maybe even calculus or physics (he looks smart). But, alas, none of these advanced mathematics classes has prepared him for this real life moment of complexity, when a woman strides into Zaxby’s and asks for a salad with no lettuce. In that moment, he is thinking what we are all thinking: the request defies the laws of mathematics, of physics–of reality itself.
Besides unheated Pop Tarts, weak sweet tea, and salads with no lettuce, I could easily go on building my case that my wife is an interdimensional traveler (for instance, she puts ice in milk and doesn’t put milk on cereal), but I will stop here out of respect for the sanctity of marriage, knowing long ago I vowed to love and cherish this strange woman from an alternate universe.
That said, the craziest thing about all this, though, is she believes she’s the normal one. When pushed for evidence, however, she only cites my repulsion to mustard, which she thinks is such a severe transgression that it calls into question my very claim to be an American–or at least an American from this dimension.