“You goofed, didn’t you?” murmurs the Sage accusingly in my ear.
My mind goes momentarily blank then my entire visionary field becomes dark with all the undetected sins rising before my eyes. Goofed? How? What, when, where … no! Can’t be me, not I, he has the wrong Argus. Is it something I said? Something I didn’t say? Something I should have said, and would have said, had it but occurred to me to say it? Eek?
If a long-dead mariner could smirk, I’m sure he’s smirking. I don’t like smirkers—
“Those cast iron fry pans. And that heavy stewpot thing. Remember?”
… … … okaaaay, yes.
I remember now. I threw them out after I read that pseudo-medical article trying to sell teflon. I should never have done it but hey, I was younger at the time—
“Only a decade or two,” he mutters.
He’s right. Amazing how things can change virtually overnight. Like the politics of—
“Belay that! We bain’t going there! Stick to the point—speaking of which, where is it this time?”
One lousy magazine article that seemed, just seemed, to make sense. And now, like a wife, he brings it up again. Out of the blue (and HE was the guy who first warned me about the steel-trap capabilities of Ladies’ minds*).
“There is none, dammit! You scuppered the last the other night—
He’s optimistically rattling the crocks. It won’t do him any good, they’re empty and I haven’t gotten round to getting refills. At least he’s putting my books back in the shelves this time, after searching the voids behind. His diligence gives me a breathing space—cast iron, aaaah. Why did I ever let a smooth talking writer divert me, seduce me away from the one true and faithful love of my limited kitchen life? Nothing is as good as cast iron—
What? Can’t be, there is no rum, he sank the last of it—
“Hip flask. Among your socks.”
Damn! Even I didn’t know it was there, he’s right, I am getting forgetful. And how am I going to explain that to The Spouse, when next she’s reloading the sock drawer?
I put it on the back burner, along with many other great unanswered questions of history; and bring the might and main of my mind to bear on the issue of cast iron. How on earth am I to explain to my ever more cynical beloved Spouse that I want to revisit cast iron, fry pans, pots, casseroles … ???
“Never apologise, never explain—” he says as he weaves out through my doorway. I won’t see him again until the next time but I recognise the quote, it’s from Jackie Fisher, one of the great admirals of British history. Wow, she will be impressed. Not.
“—and you could try getting her to read that article you’ve just read on the web.”
He’s gone in a waft of Pussers finest but methinks he leaves a good point. I’ll get her to read it. Okay, I’ll ask her to read it. Alright, I’ll suggest she reads it? Whatever—
—and when all else fails I’ll just go ahead and do all the yard sales and op shops, with any luck I’ll find some … as for the sock drawer, I can always plead insanity. That, I know, she will buy.
* It was when I first joined the navy. A truly ancient Chief laid a skinny hand on my shoulder and advised me always to keep my yard-arm scrupulously clean where the Wife is concerned (“One day, Lad!”) because “They have minds like steel traps. You might think it’s all over once the dust and feathers settle, but twenty years later when the time is right she’ll bring it up again and hit you with it!”