We are living in a quirky old rental while our house is being remodeled. The original place was a single room built in the 1800s with walls eighteen inches thick. The owners and their forefathers kept adding onto that one room, with bedrooms and bathrooms popping from one single hallway like a branch sprouting new shoots. To go from the bedroom to the kitchen for a drink of water requires running shoes, and there are light switches in strange places that, instead of turning on a light, actually fire up a heater or turn on an attic fan. I still can’t muster up the courage to head down into the basement. My dad went. He said it was creepy. But I can’t imagine a more perfect place. My children now think of it as “the 1826 house” like we just picked up and moved there. The landlords live about ten feet away in a house adjoined with a breezeway, and they are lovely people. I brought the landlady so much pumpkin bread that she finally had to tell me to stop because she has a gluten allergy.
The most perfect thing about our rental is not the fact that it has a dug-out basement or that it’s quite possibly haunted or that almost every room has a different type of flooring. It’s not the grand piano or the fact that the décor contains a large amount of arrowheads or that one bedroom in the house is actually referred to as “the Africa Room” due to the collection of safari memorabilia. The coolest thing is contained within the confines of a little blue cord. Cable. I am in awe of this majestic invention of technology that we do not possess in our actual home.
Cable is something strange and foreign to the Hill clan, and we all gather around the television like cave men, pounding upon the box with clubs and beating our chests with glee. It causes the Hill leaders to lose sleep and feel compelled to watch long Iron Chef marathons. After all – we have a civic duty to see what the hype is all about regarding drunken women in New Jersey whose names sound like baby blankets.
I have grown so attached to the food network that I’ve become irrationally inspired. I see the way chefs manage to put together entire meals from wheat flour, peas, and fresh tuna, and I feel that despite my lack of formal training I, too, could whip up a soufflé if my life depended on it in thirty minutes. Because it’s a temporary living arrangement, we didn’t haul our entire spice rack over to our new pad, so the only two spices that reside in our rental kitchen are cumin and cinnamon. But as you know, if you watch the food network, this should not be a deterrent. With cinnamon, some black truffles, goat milk, and a Wolf range, dessert is so completely done!
So the other night, when I’m staring into the refrigerator, I see sausage, leftover rice, and remembered we had a can of black beans in the pantry. That’s it! I can make a killer Mexican Jumbalaya! After all, we have Cumin. So what if I’m mixing cultures? Chefs do those things all the time, people. Think Asian fusion.
My husband came home and I mentioned that we would be dining on Mexican Jumbalaya and tamales, along with some Italian beer and Halloween candy for dessert. Suddenly, I hear myself speaking. I realize cable has rotted my brain. Who put this menu together, anyway? Later that night, my daughter was speaking into a fake camera that’s located somewhere in the imaginary world she lives in. She’s telling the people in television land exactly how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, going into painstaking detail for the television audience about how to slather on the jelly without it dripping. Then she broke for commercials.
When we move back home, we will not have cable. I haven’t read a book in a month, my daughter is now dreaming of being a TV personality, and I’m inundated with thoughts of buying a hybrid car and a Vitamix. But I will miss cable, that fancy modern invention, broadcast among the arrowheads in our 1826 home. Rich housewives and fancy chefs will just have to plod on without this household of viewers. We’re heading back to the dark ages. To the days of flipping through magazines and checking our email on our iphones. Reading books and watching NOVA on public television. Somehow, some way, we’ll muddle through.