Goulash, no Goolosh

Rated PG

I’m a fairly simple guy. Okay, I’m pretty messed up, but my needs are fairly simple.

For my first marriage no one threw me a bachelor party. I guess it just didn’t pop into anyone’s mind. So I threw my own. I bought a keg and told some guys I knew. Out of the seven or so I invited over to drink the beer, four showed up. But that was good enough as far as I was concerned.

My wife-to-be made a cake for the little party and here we begin to get a glimpse into her unconventional mind. This is the same lady whom years later thought that if you folded wash cloths in a specific way you could fit more of them into a given space, having no concept that volume is volume. There are no magic folding techniques.

The cake she bought for my little bachelor gathering wasn’t the typical bachelor cake. It wasn’t a pair of boobies or a vee-j-j or a naked lady laying back against her arms like you might see on a 18-wheeler mud flap. No. It was a Cherub with a little bow and arrow. A little boy Cherub at that. That went over so well when I revealed it to my few bachelor party guests. I guess I should have looked under the container lid beforehand. At least it wasn’t a cock-cake.

After my pathetically self-thrown bachelor party, came the wedding. Our honeymoon was scheduled for a few days later. The first night we spent in a hotel just to do something special. The next day we went to the house we were renting to start moving her stuff in. The plan was to spend a few days to get her moved in and settled, and then we would go to the coast for a few days of honeymoon.

On that first day moving her into the house her mother pulled me aside and said, “I’m sorry she doesn’t know anything.” What a thing to say about your own daughter. That should have been an even bigger warning to me than what she meant. The mother-in-law, I came to realize over the years, is a very messed up control freak. Apples don’t fall far from the tree.

One of the first tasks I set for us in our new home was to get things cleaned up. The house was owned by my parents, one of several houses they rented out. Much to our benefit it had become vacant a month before the wedding so my folks held it for us. It is nice being related to the landlord. But considering that, it was my intention to do more than just rent the place. I was going to take care of it.

The walls were a little dirty but the paint was still good. So I suggested to my spouse, “Before we move too much stuff in, let’s clean things up. Let’s wash the walls before we start hanging pictures and pushing dressers in place.” She gave me a look like I was insane. “Wash the walls? I never heard of such a thing.” I explained that they didn’t need painting. There wasn’t one scratch or peel anywhere. Just needed to get the smudges and dust off. Wash the obvious spots. Maybe take a sponge mop and just give the wall a general rub and bang, clean and fresh. It took us less than half a day to do the entire house, yet I don’t think I ever heard the end of it.

One thing the mother-in-law was talking about was food and cooking. My first ex didn’t know how to boil water without burning it, or so it seemed. I know that’s impossible but she found ways. This gets to my initial point that I am a simple man with simple needs. But even us simpletons have their limits.

After getting moved in and honeymooned, we began to settle into our routine. The first nightly meal she presented she called Goolosh. Now I know there is a Hungarian dish of meat and vegies called Goulash, but I have to call the dish she served Goolosh. Ground beef and a can of peas, boiled until cooked and plopped on a plate.

It was filling enough and just as filling the second night and the third. I know I could have stepped in and cooked a meal at any time and offered to do so. But she had budgeted things and did all the shopping and was not happy with the idea of me doing the nightly meal, she wanted to create that Norman Rockwell domestic scene. So I let her do what she wanted. Anything to keep her happy.

Goolosh was still filling the second week, and the third, but it was losing the little bit of flavor it had that very first night. But I’m a simple man. I’m not hard to please. However . . .

At the end of the third month, while looking at the ninetieth (90th) consecutive plate of soggy boiled ground beef and peas I had to say something. I asked, “I appreciate your Goolosh and I know you don’t know a lot about cooking. But I could cook if you would like?” She refused. “Oh no. I’ve budgeted the money we’ve put together for meals. I’ve got it all worked out.” I said, “Well, I understand the tight budget. But could we have something different every now and then? I don’t need much. Honestly I can do all right with a TV dinner. That is probably cheaper than ground beef alone.”

Over the coming weeks, after several discussions we reworked the budgets and I did some of my own grocery shopping. I enjoyed TV dinners or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and occasionally got her to allow me to cook some meals for her. Still, many a meal I sat across from her bowl of Goolosh while I enjoyed a budget frozen meal. What I would have given for some Goulash.

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