When I married in the 1950’s, the domestic, house-proud woman was the cultural norm. Unfortunately, I was neither domestic nor house-proud, but self –awareness also wasn’t one of my strong points back then. My mother’s despair over attempts to teach me to cook as a teenager should have been my first clue.
She tried to start as simply as possible by just setting out a box of corn bread mix along with the other ingredients and utensils for me. I read the instructions and combined the ingredients in the bowl. That seemed simple enough. I might have actually managed, but mom came in at that point and said, “Wash your hands and put the mix into the pan.” After she left, I thought, “Why am I washing my hands? Is this one of those baking things I’ve read about that you do with your hands?” So, I used my hands to scoop the mix out of the bowl and to sort of shake/fling it into the pan. When not a whole lot of it made it into the pan, I began to suspect than my intuition about using my hands was off base. As I was trying to figure out how to get the rest of all the corn meal off my hands and into the pan, my mother returned to check on my progress.
She lost it. “What in the world are you doing?” she shouted. “What a mess! Why is it all over your hands?” I, in turn, had a meltdown, starting to sniffle, backing away from the mess on the counter into the stove behind me, where there was a pot of melted butter. As the butter poured into the burner and down the front of the stove, I ran crying from the kitchen with half the corn meal still on my hands. Neither mother, nor I, ever found the courage to attempt to domesticate me again