He said my cooking was "good." I went all out for it. Should he have been more demonstrative?
Miffed in Monroe
My Dearest Miffed,
I was tempted to begin my reply by noting something to the effect of "There is naught so terrible and grating as a thankless dinner guest"—a statement I was prepared to pen in the spirit of commiseration, rather than unwarranted hyperbole. But, upon reflection, there are many things more terrible and grating than boorish diners. For example, many readers have noted that those who possess faces find parasitic face worms to be remarkably unpleasant, and all the more grating when such worms drone on with meandering anecdotes largely concerning persons or workplaces not your own. Similarly, I am made to understand that forced labor at the hands of wicked, iniquitous masters—be they Egyptian pyramid contractors, antebellum field bosses, or would-be Chinese tennis shoe magnates—is unfulfilling, as is being sold into pre-adolescent sexual slavery, or slowly suffocating beneath the rubble of your once-vertical domicile. Also, being crushed in the sticky, fermenting, maggot-generating offal of a Class-AAA high school refuse compactor is, without a doubt, a lousy way to spend one's lone day off of from an otherwise fair-wage hourly employment bereft of benefits or job security.
But a thankless (or, in this case, insufficiently thankful) dinner guest is, indeed, an atrocity the likes of which I invite none to bear in silence. Frankly, and here I speak with the utmost candor, my large, muscular hearts are sickened and saddened to reflect on your ignored toils and travails, having "went all out for it." I imagine the months you spent slashing and burning the forest primeval, plowing the rocky land that remained, sowing the dry kernels, irrigating the crops in proud refutation of the unforgivingly arid conditions of the region, reaping the wheat, drying the windrows, threshing the sheaves, gathering the grains, and grinding them twixt two coarse stones—all effort unrecognized! In the long hours, as you scraped from your own two feet the yeast to leaven the bread, as you mixed the rough-hewn flour with salt you yourself distilled from the sea's saline waters on an evaporating lens ground from glass you forged of sand you gathered on those same shores, as you mixed the ingredients and wetted them in fresh waters arduously hauled up from the fetid and gurglous streams in the humid lowlands, you asked for no compensation, demanded no recognition, and yet your guest, who sits to break this artisanal loaf with you, he can only go so far as to say it is "good"?!?
Pardon my incredulity, but I am ANGRY! Such abuse, such callous, callow, thoughtless, savage EXPLOITATION should not fall upon the salt of the earth such as yourself! I SHAKE! I QUIVER with my righteous indignation! I think of the many days you spent at sea in a leaking dinghy of your own construction, a craft tarred with Russian oil painstakingly dry-distilled in your own Scandinavian tar kiln, a craft driven forth into the winedark unknowing of the raging storms by your own hand-hewn oars, braving twenty-foot breakers and scurrilous carpenter whales only so that you might wield your own clovis-pointed spear to fell this diner guest a tuna—Tyrannosaurus of the Sea!—with the sole intent of hauling it to shore, gutting it, boning it, scaling it, mincing it, and then mixing it ever so gently with cucumbers coaxed forth from your own good black soil, pickled in vinegar fermented from the apples you gathered from the trees you cultivated in your fields—the very same vinegar that you whipped together with yet another few precious grains of your own salt, as well as an egg from one of the several chickens you raise (fed on the grains gleaned from your own threshing floors, mentioned above) and olive oil expelled using the rudimentary screw press you spent the long winter months hewing from oaks field with your flint hand axe—
All of this, so that you might present your graceless guest with a sandwich of tuna's salad which he deemed simply "good"!
My beak fills with bile to think of this man, this low beast, that would think it sufficient to grunt a singly syllable and believe it in any way close to beginning to possibly imagine approaching the range of even the very outermost orbit of an abandoned and rough-hewn sliver of what civilized beings like you or I call "gratitude."
Murder is the vine that grows in this soil, Miffed. Righteous murder. If your dinner guest can demonstrate nothing more than "good"—in light of your magnanimity and selfless sacrifice and wonder-working, world-shaping culinary determination and ambitions—then I suggest you demonstrate for him the flame that scorched the trees, the scythe that felled the wheat, the hands that threshed the germ, the stones that ground the grain, the yeast that consumed the starch, the oven that baked it hard, the searing tar which sealed the boat, the spear that pierced the tuna, and the clever, clever fingers that minced her flesh. I cannot imagine a single true and fair jury in this great Nation that would fail to acquit such a demonstrative physical declaration of "gratitude"—for, is not the heart of all gratitude sacrifice? Simple, direct blood sacrifice?
Of course, I would be remiss if I did not allow the possibility that your cooking was deplorable and unimaginative—taking the form of little more than boiling Cpt. Kraft's macaronis and powdering them with cheese color—and our dear and humble guest was simply being as kind as his poor, abused gut would permit. In any event, my advice stands; there is no slight—even a slight of mercy motivated by a cramping duodenum and kind heart—that cannot be amply addressed by flame, scythe, hands, stones, yeast, oven, searing tar, spear, and clever, clever fingers.
Your Giant Squid
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