Chicken Soup…for the Pocketbook

It was the worst of weeks, it was the worst of weeks*.

My new cure-all vacuum cleaner was not delivered. And the appliance on which our very lives depend – the dishwasher – quit working on Sunday. Washing dishes by hand is for the birds, I’m sorry to say. But washing dishes by hand….when you’re sick…is a crime against humanity.

The illness that felled the Hen on Sunday, felled him again on Tuesday. You’d think if somebody goes 36 hours without unleashing ‘matter’ on their washed-within-an-inch-of-their-lives sheets, that it’s all good; in the clear. As in, ‘you can totally go to preschool tomorrow.’

But you’d be wrong. Very, very wrong. And, forty eight hours after it all began, you’d be back in the same bedroom, with the same crying child, washing clothes in the same machine.

And the next morning, your sweater-wearing husband might leave to teach a class and return six hours later with the words: ‘I’ve got what the Hen had’ as he quarantined himself in my office (slash guestroom).

I decided to make pumpkin muffins. Because I was still feeling spry-ish, despite the perpetual nausea – harbinger of things to come. ‘Please don’t even talk about what you’re making,’ the professor begged miserably as I ducked into the sanitarium to get a recipe from the computer. He ventured out later only to run back to his sick-den, so horrified by the smell of muffins baking in the oven.

‘Good thing you weren’t the pregnant one!’ I called after him, imagining forty eight weeks  (16 weeks of constant nausea times three) of being unable to speak of food or bake muffins.

And then I woke up this morning with the undeniable realization that I’d be spending my day wearing pajama pants, alternately sleeping and shivering with a ‘belt of pain’ around me as the professor had dubbed it the previous day.

I stumbled downstairs, not because I was trying to be brave, but because I heard the sounds of muffins being passed out. The muffins I’d baked for other people. ‘Those muffins are for other people!’ I protested upon seeing the discarded liners and Percy reaching for the tupperware container, to help himself to a second one. ‘There are some in the freezer,’ I pointed, weakly, in the direction of said freezer, while Percy threw himself on the floor as the plastic bowl was summarily whisked away.

I had added handfuls of chopped crystallized ginger and chocolate chips to the batter, fully prepared for the boys to turn their noses up at the first whiff of ginger. Quite the contrary, a small child threw himself on the ground when he was told there were no more muffins. That’s the sign of a good muffin, at least in my book. And, when the Gort ran through the door at the end of the school day, his first words were not ‘Hi Mother, how are you feeling?’ They were ‘Hi Mom, can I have another muffin.’

I spent the day convalescing and just before he left to pick up the Gort, the professor asked ‘what should I do about dinner?’ The only thing I could fathom eating was chicken noodle soup, so I suggested he pick some up at the very expensive market two blocks from our house.

He called me from the market, on his cell phone. ‘They don’t have chicken soup,’ he reported, ‘they have white bean soup…’ I couldn’t imagine being ill and choosing to eat white bean soup. ‘Just buy a chicken,’ I suggested, ‘I will make the soup.’ ‘Do you know how much these chickens cost?’ he protested. And I, somewhat familiar with the $22 chickens at the market, said ‘just buy the smallest one, it’s better than having to get back in the car and drive somewhere else.’

So I found a recipe and began the chopping of the celery and the carrots. I looked at the discarded plastic wrapper to determine the weight of the market-chicken. But my eye landed on another number. The price.

‘You paid $33 for a chicken?!’ I called from the kitchen to the living room where the shopper was sitting with his laptop. I don’t recall ever spending $33 for poultry, not even a turkey. I mean, I spent $7 on a pair of jeans this summer. I could have bought five at that price.

As with all dinners chez nous, the soup was met with a range of responses. ‘Something smells delicious!’ the Gort announced uber-enthusiastically as he passed through the kitchen to the dining room. ‘I don’t like this soup,’ the Hen balked before he’d even looked at the bowl. And Percy slurped his noodles – only – like an expert, before declaring himself done. ‘I like the carrots,’ the Hen finally conceded, spooning a handful of cooked carrots into his mouth.

Which was a little bit funny since neither the professor nor I eat the soft orange disks. He, dodging carrots through some very selective ladeling, and I, not-so-subtly, leaving them at the bottom of my bowl.

Scenes from Sickville

*To be fair, I might be overstating a ‘bit’ in calling it the worst of weeks. It was actually not that bad, but who wants to read about a ‘not-that-bad’ week. Also, for the sake of accuracy, I should mention I only washed dishes by hand…once.

3 thoughts on “Chicken Soup…for the Pocketbook

  1. Adrienne, True. But it would be nice to be thought of. Or something. And yes, Renate, a $33 chicken. Who knew?! And was it the most delicious chicken I’ve ever eaten? No.

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