Sunday, March 15, 2009


On Ash Wednesday, Danny came home from Mass and informed me that the priest had reminded the assembled faithful that eating meat on Fridays during Lent was still contrary to the teachings of the Church.

"All right," I said, "since you go by the fish and poultry store on your way home, why don't you pick up a piece of fish?"

"No," he said, "we divided up the housework, and shopping is your job."

"Legalistic little . . . ," I thought, stopping short of any number of nouns that one doesn't quite want to apply to one's husband, even in the privacy of one's own head.

I pointed out that whatever purpose was served by requiring abstention from meat on Fridays, the idea wasn't to put fish on the menu for a Catholic husband who likes fish, and inconvenience his non-Catholic wife, who doesn't. Then I got out the vegetarian cookbook and started to read recipes for things like tofu with peanut butter sauce.

I didn't make that; but on the four Fridays of Lent that year, I concocted four different vegetarian entrees. They were all rather bland and not particularly good, confirming my impression that vegetarian food isn't worth the trouble. That's what I had bought the book to find out. From my point of view, the vegetarian Lenten meals were a learning experience and thus a success.

Danny was never shy about letting me or anyone else know when their activities didn't suit him. When he gave me trouble about something I thought was ridiculous, I wasn't above suggesting that he offer up his discomfort for the suffering souls in Purgatory, usually adding, "I don't think they'll be impressed."(That refers to a Roman Catholic system for dealing construc-tively with unpleasantness. It involves some kind of mental gymnastics that I never understood.)

Danny didn't think much of the vegetarian entrees, but for once he didn't dare give me trouble. He ate his penitential Friday dinners with a great air of brown-eyed martyrdom but didn't say a word.