“Dinner!” I wail up our old base house staircase like some kind of aproned howler monkey, hoping it will carry under closed bedroom doors, around earbuds, and through rap songs.
“Do you have to yell like that?” my husband winces, unbuttoning his Navy cammies after a long day at work wrangling with personnel issues. Sitting down at the rickety kitchen table that we inherited from my mother’s basement after our last move to Rhode Island, I know he wishes I was more ladylike.
But at 47 years of age, walking up the stairs is only done as a last resort.
June Cleaver would have delicately rung a bell to signal Beave and Wally to dinner. Donna Reed would have gracefully ascended the stairs while wearing kitten heels and a crinolined skirt to genteelly summon the children for a family meal. Carole Brady would have delicately pressed a manicured finger to the NuTone intercom system to muster her bunch to the Formica kitchen table for Alice’s Swiss Steak.
But they certainly would not bellow up the staircase.
As I dart frantically from fridge, to stove, to cabinet to drawer assembling the necessary dinner accouterments, my husband grimaces at his newspaper, (either because he forgot his reading glasses or because he is comparing me to his mother.)
Buttering the beans, I wonder, has 20 years of military life and household drudgery squelched my feminine allure? Does my husband find me attractive anymore? Have I completely let myself go? Just as I consider walking up the stairs, I realize that if we don’t eat, the pork chops will soon double as hockey pucks.
“Kids! I know you can hear me! I said, dinner!” I roar as the mashed potatoes transform into wallpaper paste.
“We’re going to cut your allowance!” I shout through cupped hands as the gravy solidifies into a gelatinous sludge.
“I’m getting angry!” I snarl as curdles appear in the milk glasses.
“You’re all about to be grounded!” I threaten as the green beans sprout roots.
“One! ... Two! ... Three! ....” I bawl in a final screech of desperation.
Mercifully, we hear a scramble of stocking feet in the upstairs hallway.
I plop into my seat just as my husband lifts his head out of the sports page. He looks at me across our table, furrows his brows, and focuses intently. Obviously perturbed, I know he is about to say something. I pray that he compliments the fluffiness of my mashed potatoes, but I’m sure he will announce that he has filed for separation on the grounds that my bellowing is cruel and inhumane treatment.
As he inhales deeply and opens his mouth wide enough to reveal fillings, our 20 year marriage flashes before my eyes.
“Kids! Grab my reading glasses from the nightstand, wouldya?!” He blares the loudest.
Howler monkeys alike, we’re a perfect match.
(Editor’s note: Currently stationed in Newport, RI, Molinari is a 20-year Navy spouse and mother of three teenagers, whose award-winning columns appear in military and civilian newspapers nationwide, and on her blog, themeatandpotatoesoflife.com.)