“mph, mph… oleo?”
“What?!” Marge was windexing windows in the den and could not decipher the muffled words coming from the kitchen.
“The oleo. I don’t see any oleo.”
Stepping around the corner, Marge smiled when she saw her husband’s head shoved inside their twenty-two year old, almond-colored Frigidaire. Actually, Marge couldn’t see Hank’s head at all, but rather his other end with the itty-bitty crack peeking out the top of his Lee jeans.
“We’re all out. Use the butter.”
“I can’t,” Hank stated emphatically, retreating from the fridge.
“What do you mean you can’t? It’s sitting right there on the butter dish, in the door.” Marge reached into the refrigerator and retrieved the butter.
“I can’t, ‘cause I was gonna have some of that homemade bread.”
“And…?” Marge seized the serrated knife from the butcher block, set the fresh loaf of whole wheat bread on the cutting board, and began slicing. “Grab the quince jam, will ya, dear? It’s on the third shelf. How many pieces do you want?”
“I don’t want any pieces,” Hank announced as he set the jam on the counter. “And how does an ugly yellow fruit end up as pink jam, anyway?”
“I don’t know, Hank. Add that to your list of things to ask God when you get to heaven—right after you get your eyebrow question answered.”
After twenty-four years of marriage, Marge continued to be baffled by some of the thoughts that traversed through Hank’s head.
“I thought you were looking for the oleo to put on the bread. So why don’t you want any bread now?”
“’Cause you can’t put hard butter on soft bread.” Hank’s tone intimated that his statement was fact, and there was no need for further discussion.
“You can’t what?” Marge started to cross her arms in disbelief then realized she was still holding the serrated knife. Wisely, she set the knife down before dramatically placing her empty hands on her hips.
“That’s why I need the oleo…it spreads nice on the bread. That hard butter is just going to rip the soft bread to shreds.”
Turning back to the cutting board, Marge graciously offered to butter the bread for her high-maintenance husband, but was met with resounding rejection.
“Nope. It doesn’t matter who spreads it…hard butter on soft bread doesn’t work.”
“What if I slice the butter very thinly…then it will spread easier.”
“Nice try, Marge, but the bread will still tear, and it won’t taste right. I told you, it just doesn't work.” Hank placed his John Deere cap on his head and started for the back door.
Not willing to let the hard-butter-on-soft-bread issue beat her, Marge offered up another solution.
“What if I melt the butter, and spread it on the bread with a brush?”
Hank’s crinkled mouth told Marge he wasn’t interested in that particular method of buttering the bread, either.
“Or, if we had a microwave—and don’t start lecturing me on how microwave rays are going to cause everyone to mutate into alien monsters, and we’re all going to have three heads and there won’t be enough food to feed all of our heads—I could soften the butter to make it spreadable. But I suppose it’d be easier to go to Wilkins’ Grocer for more oleo than head to Sears for a microwave, huh?”
Marge methodically began slicing off thin layers of butter and spreading them gently on the fresh bread. Hank eyed her suspiciously, presumably watching for any telltale signs of mutilated bread or clumpy butter.
“What about that fancy-smancy thing your cousin gave us for Christmas? That butter-concoction thing?”
“You mean the butter crock? I forgot all about that. Grab it off the top shelve there, let’s see what it’s all about.”
Hank located the butter crock and scanned the back of the box.
“This won’t do us any good now, the butter has to be soft before you put it in the dang thing.”
“But if we start using it now, we won’t run into this dilemma again.” Marge rinsed off the butter crock and set it on the counter.
“I have a better idea. How about if I head down to Wilkins’ for some more oleo, and we won’t have this dilemma now?” Hank took his truck keys, kissed his wife, and walked out.
“Whatever works for you, dear,” Marge replied to no one. “I’ll wait right here…enjoying the hard butter on soft bread, with the funny pink jam.”
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