The youth with whom I attended church in high school were a tight-knit group. We had the kind of friendship that outwardly seemed cruel but inwardly was based on love and respect. The biggest joke we had going was a rivalry between the boys and the girls as to whom really belonged in the kitchen.
The boys started it, of course, with their faux-macho-chauvenistic, “get in the kitchen!” when they were tired or frustrated with us. It was said without malice and without meaning and became our most beloved standing joke. Before long the result of any debate or wager was that the loser had to bake something for the winner. We understood that the joke was sensitive and were careful with whom we joked and even who may overhear. We knew that although it was an idle joke within our group that it could cause great offense outside. It was also a time-sensitive joke. As we all graduated and moved away the banter stopped and as we’ve seen each other since we have not picked up the old jokes, now very inappropriate. I’m pretty sure none of our spouses would understand.
This year on Christmas day I was chatting with Mum, who had asked what we had given each other for Christmas. As I listed the kitchenwares we had received as a family (including new dishes!) and the cookbook and crepe pan I had personally received I cheerfully told her all the reasons I was thrilled for each item.
“Why did the mother cross the road?” My mother interrupted.
“uhhh,” I stammered, confused. “Because her family was on the other side?” I had no idea where she was going with this.
“That’s not the right question. The question should be, what was she doing outside the kitchen?”
“Mother!” I exclaimed, completely taken aback. Surely she was making reference to the jokes of my youth because it was certainly not an opinion to which she particularly subscribed.
“How do you feel with all these kitchen gifts?” She asked. Ah-ha. I finally knew where she was headed, but I was barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen, and making cookies as we were speaking.
“Couldn’t be happier.” I replied.