When Burgers Turn Bad
Marc and I have an ongoing battle (lest you think we never fight) about quality. It usually manifests as me insisting on the best of the best when planning for a party - the most bountiful spread, the highest quality ingredients, etc. Marc then automatically takes a stand against my wishes, often going overboard in his assertions that a few crumbs scraped off the floor will be perfectly adequate party food.
So, my ESP challenges are particularly great around party time.
This past week, our son T had his 4th birthday party - a barbeque at a local playground. Marc and I discussed the menu, I wrote up the shopping list, and Marc did the shopping. Then, I saw that Marc had bought store-brand pre-formed burgers in a box rather than hamburger meat we could form ourselves. The horror! I know, I know - some of you are thinking (or so Marc assures me), "What's wrong with that?" Yuck, gag, worse than cat food. Our opinions were not meshing here.
What to do?
I blundered - I acted horrified and insisted that the pressed cardboard be replaced with real meat before the party could go on. Marc reacted as any normal guy might, and defended his purchase by calling me elitist (in so many words) and telling me that this kind of talk is exactly what makes guys not all that anxious to take on the shopping. ESP not!
What could I have done differently? Happily serve what I thought was really bad food to our guests? I could have. But I think that doesn't have to be the answer. Serving good food (even simple hamburgers) is really important to me. Deliberately serving bad food was not Marc's goal, and he didn't buy the boxed meat just to tick me off - he just thought he'd found something convenient at the grocery store that would fit the bill. He didn't prefer his purchase over my wishes either. But somehow, I don't think that ESP means having to settle for a standard so far below your own at any moment's notice - on an issue that really matters to you. This isn't world peace, I know, but bear with me...
Marc and I dissected the issue later that day and came to some useful conclusions. He told me that it would have helped tremendously if I had not been so strongly accusing of him when I first noticed his purchase. If I had instead said something like, "Hmmm...I'd really like to use regular hamburger meat for the party, would you mind if I exchanged it?" Then, we could possibly have preserved our equality in the matter - Marc's choice being viable, and Amy raising a different suggestion - and briefly discussed the matter. We also realized that the important ESP take home message was that while both of us get a full vote in everything about our home and family, we vote in the context of our whole selves - not for the sake of mathematical equality.
When all was smoothed over, I went to the grocery store for my choice of hamburger (and trust me, much of the party was Marc-style too). T had a ball at his birthday bash, and we still both felt we put on the party together.
As luck would have it, I forgot to bring the dreaded burger pucks back to the store. They sit, in all their splendor, in our freezer now. Someday, I know one of them will be smiling up at me from my plate on Marc's night to cook dinner. And I'll smile back.