LAST NIGHT I WENT INTO BATTLE fully armed. I felt most comfortable gearing up because I was eating alone. Suiting up in front of the family invites both ridicule as well as speculation. Solo, I can slide into the full-length apron, tuck the napkin into the collar of my shirt, slide as close to the table as one can and, not having anyone with whom to make conversation, keep my head perfectly straight, thereby cutting down on the possible angles. You see, I am a spotter. In fact, my talents at getting spots on clothes are Olympian in breadth.
Sometimes I strategize better and will wear pre-spotted clothes to the table, particularly when I am tired and it’s just too much work to think and plan and be precise. Sometimes I just change before meals, sliding on something black. But when alone, I’ll suit up. I admit it. Goodness knows, I’ve heard worse.
I have a friend who tells a story of watching his son bite into a meatball hero and actually seeing one of the meatballs launch out the bread’s pointy end, land on the kid’s shoulder, and travel the length of the arm of the shirt. We cheered at the telling of this tale, that is, those of us who consider this a competitive sport. It’s times like these that my husband doesn’t cheer, though, and I always do try to look a little chastened when I make eye contact with him during these stories. Apparently the boy’s family kept the shirt and bring it out as a sort of tunic of honor when the story needs retelling.
Ah, family. I would adore that kind of home field support, though I do not expect it. Instead, I confess to each spotty experience, only this morning stopping my husband on his way out the door to work to tell him about last night when I was home alone with my turkey meatloaf and tomato sauce.
Recounting it, even I was impressed: Arms straight in front of me, reading material set up, the shin-length apron covering the khaki pants, as well as the pink Brooks Brothers shirt, the large cloth napkin looped over my throat like a madwoman’s ascot, the degree of difficulty of landing a spot was high, indeed. And for extra measure, I had taken off the clothes directly after dinner and tossed them in the washer, just in case these aging eyes of mine had missed a spot. Ha, I thought. That’ll show ‘em. I’m clean.
And then, this morning, scanning the shirt as it hung in the shower rod, I saw it. There, in the armpit. Really? Is that a spot of red? I grabbed my glasses. It is. An undeniable spot of red sauce. Wow. Impressive.
And my husband just shook his head, looking just the eensiest bit superior, though completely and utterly amused. That is, until I spied a piece of egg yolk on his lapel.