Sunday, June 2, 2019 • Essays
Concerning the Morning Pageantry of Couples Making Oatmeal
The commencement of oatmeal making in the morning ideally begins when one member of a two-member coupling awakens slightly before the other. This one shall lay in bed flipping her eyelashes up and down for several moments, first pondering the entirety of the day that waits – and, possibly, if it be a Sunday, the upcoming week – before narrowing her focus on the immediate business at hand, the curious rumblings in her stomach.
She should make notice about how she leaves the bed. Her movements will take much practice before mastery comes. The bed is to be left with a deft maneuver, whereupon she swings her feet into the air, out into the void, and down upon the rug, all without disturbing the partner. If she indeed is a master, she will abandon the bed like a whisper leaving the lips of a débutante, dismissing the bedsheets so casually you would think them unimportant to her; though we know she spent the entire night burglarizing them from her partner, who still sleeps unknowingly, and un-blanketed, at the far edge of the mattress.
Still mindful of excessive noisemaking she leaves the room on tip-toed feet, her walk not becoming chassé until she enters the kitchen and finds her confidence. She fills the tea kettle with 27 to 34 ounces of the finest tap water and is careful to maintain concentration. A great many novices at this stage become distracted by the happenings outside the kitchen window – perhaps the alley cat stalks a black crow across the morning snow – and the kettle is dropped upon the stovetop with a great clatter and yelp.
If this happens, she must freeze, and from the bedroom might come a sleepy groan; but hopefully he is soothed by the hiss of the gas, the rapid click of the igniter, and the whoosh of the flame which blooms beneath the kettle. Only when his snores return in earnest – as a grouch bear who awakens too early from hibernation and, realizing it only January, returns to his den pacified by the promise of another three months of shut-eye – can she herself sigh with relief and return to her joyful activities.
She transfers the boiling water from kettle to pot, and fills the pot with two cups of the finest Irish Steel-Cut Oats. These oats are the quick-cooking variety, since time is placed in higher regard when the day is young. (If this couple were older, the oats are more likely the slow-cooking variety, since age tends to put time in its proper place.)
The oats now stewing in their bubbling cauldron, the timeline has shortened dramatically, and she must attend to many matters seemingly at once.
She takes two wooden bowls from the cupboard and slices bananas to fill their bottoms. She removes from the pantry a jar of natural peanut butter – organic, hand-pressed, lined with gold leaf – and places it upon the table. A glass bottle of the world’s greatest maple syrup from a Sugar Zion most have never visited in the flesh, but only in dreams (and only then in dreams of the most erotic and sinful nature), joins the peanut butter upon the table top; as well as two spoons, two small glasses of juice and/or tea and/or coffee, two napkins, and a bib (if one member be non-domesticated). Other delicacies might also now be added, such as Maine blueberries or Washington State raspberries or New York apples – in the first hour of your day, you might put the whole world upon your plate!
Her hands must move with outstanding grace as she prepares the last items for oatmeal setting. She dashes Pink Himalayan Salt over the oats still seething in their pot upon the stove, stirs the dish seven times with a wooden spoon, turns off the burner and covers it. Taking a sip of her Chai, she glances a hard stare at the table setting, determining whether the right time has come, and whether she is ready to welcome another soul into her existence this day. She might decide, and this be her natural right, to keep this day her own for a moment longer. And who could blame her, for the oaf in the other room is quite oafish.
But today her choice is for company.
She is a prodigy; her intuition guides her. So when she drops the wooden spoon loudly to the kitchen floor, one might mistake it for ham-handedness. But she does nothing by accident. And she does not mind the stirrings that thus come from the bedroom.
Three-and-a-half minutes later, the other half of the two stumbles sleepily into the kitchen in flannel pajama bottoms and eye-crust, kisses her upon the cheek and asks if he might help. She beckons him to the table, where he sits and wonders about the dream that woke him – something about timber falling – and he makes clumsy comments on the weather and her beauty.
Finally, she lifts the cover from the pot.
Steam piles toward the heavens and the smell of Ireland – the pastoral farms and shepherds in the hills and gray rain-laden skies – fills the entirety of the apartment’s lower atmosphere. Satisfied of its consistency, she ladles the oatmeal into the two wooden bowls and sits.
By and by, the couple dips spoons into their bowls and enjoy this time together.