#21 The Pot Roast StoryPosted: March 26, 2012
When I was twelve my mother, Alice, sat me down to talk. Talk meant pronouncements and that was never good.
She said she wasn’t cut out to be a housewife, staying at home. She had always hated it. Now that I was old enough, she was going back to work. Sounded reasonable.
Then came the part about me. I would make dinner four nights a week. I would do laundry, polish silver and clean the house except my brother’s room. I already did most of that. For a while she sent ironing out but it always came back smelling of wood smoke. So I took on ironing too. I didn’t mind since I could watch an afternoon movie. I was also to do her hair and her nails. Since she was far-sighted I was to pluck her eyebrows and, yes, the ingrown hairs on her legs. Negotiation was never an option.
One Saturday afternoon my parents announced that they were going out to look at cemetery plots. So my mother put me in charge of a pot roast she had started. My primary duty was, “don’t let it burn.” Easy. I sat at the kitchen table reading a book.
I heard the car doors slam and looked up to see that the meat was scorched. I was terrified. This was an incident that could cause the walls to shake. Instinctively I dashed to the nearest door, the utility room, out the side door and into the garage. I stood there terrified that my father and his temper would find me. I noticed the axe lodged in the log where he chopped wood and grasped that this wasn’t the smartest hiding place. With no better plan, I crept back into the house. I heard my parents and brother in the dining room eating the pot roast I thought I had spoiled. I slipped up the stairs in the back to my room and laid on my bed in the dark.
Nothing was said, ever.