Out of the Kitchen …
I sat down to eat the breakfast I’d prepared this morning. Reflecting, mindfully, on how at 70 + years of age I’ve arrived at the chair at the kitchen island, I ate. I’d cooked a nourishing breakfast of two eggs scrambled over finely chopped kale, thinly sliced shitake mushrooms and assorted spices, bacon and 10 grain toast. I’d always enjoyed cooking, although in most of my life cooking was something I avoided. I usually stay away from the kitchen.
I learned, long ago, to eat as quickly as possible. As far as I’m concerned, eating is simply stopping at a filling station to get gas, check the oil and get back on the road of life. My body is simply a vehicle used to get somewhere and do something. That, in my mind, is what living is about — getting to a destination and accomplishing something.
As I sat at the island, savoring the freshly pressed cup of French pressed coffee, I thought of that time when I was about 4 years old or so, in the kitchen with my mother, miscellaneous “aunts” and neighbor church ladies. A Sunday or some holiday (could have been the Forth of July) brunch was being prepared. I think it was one of those social events, celebrating something or nothing, where the African-american folk get together to loudly eat, sing, argue, talk and dance.
The men were in the living room and I was in the kitchen, as a 4 year old child, with my mother. I liked making pancakes, cracking eggs and the warm smell of the place, and the excited chatter. I really enjoyed being told to hold something, how to stir the pot, learning how to cook corn bread, to crack the eggs, and stuff like that associated with preparing a meal.
As I was enjoying being in the warm kitchen and the chatter, I was told I needed to leave the kitchen. Then, one of my mother’s friends said, “Now, you git on outta here.”
I was reluctant to leave and didn’t. “Why?”, asked licking a spoon.
“Charlie, Jr., you git on outta here!”one of the ladies said again, “so we can talk.”
“Go on in there with the men and other children is,” another woman said. “Women cook in the kitchen.” she said smiling. “Now, go on … you git.” Insistently, I was dismissed by the ladies and left.
I never really got back into the kitchen until my wife was ill and I had to run the house. When that occurred, I became the House Bitch. But, that’s another story. My daughter, enculturated into Feminism by social environment, was not up to assuming the role of house cook — rarely if every. Her best friend, living with us at the time, was anorexic and bulimic. My wife was debilitated by a neuro-muscular disease that left her unable to to life or hold a spoon. I cooked. There was not one female in the house who could or would cook, except me. And, of course, I was not female. That’s why I am the House Bitch!
Notwithstanding my status of Bitch about 20+ years ago (and that was only temporary as long as my wife was alive) food remained and remains simply fuel to me. To this day it’s only when I get faint that I recognize the tank is empty and I’m running on fumes. That is, unless I’m under the influence of cannabis. So, cannabis is a good thing for me, just as anti-depressants are good for the chronically depressed.
The source, however, of my dysfunction is the dysfunctional society that innovated racism through slavery and tribalism-sexism.
Flash back: The kitchen and the women who dismissed me to the world of men, so they could vent, and talk freely about the oppression, “cheating” and stuff a boy of four should NOT witness and hear. Of course, I did not perceive or understand their agenda is getting me out of the kitchen until but a few years ago. Now, somewhat removed from the state of poverty and starvation as I am, I “get it.” I was kicked out of the kitchen, into the house of illusions called life. The ladies, of course, had to have their support group, one way or the other.