Could being a thoughtful, supportive husband lead to television stardom?
That question has crossed my mind countless times since The Food Network went on the air and my wife, already a great cook, became a dedicated fan.
Little did I realize that it would be a life-altering experience for both of us.
The saga actually began about three years before the network’s 1993 debut. Our youngest child enrolled in kindergarten and my wife resumed her teaching career.
At that point, we had one of those “it’s time for a serious talk” sessions that occur right before a husband gives up something.
Since she, as the mother of eight, was returning to work outside the home, was it fair for her to continue doing most of the household chores?
My primary home assignment was either taking out the trash or coercing one of our sons to do so.
I had lawn duties for several years but hired a mowing service after a neighbor asked if he could go rabbit hunting in my front yard.
Given the choice of laundry or the dishes, I opted for dishwashing, all the while assuring her I wanted to share family responsibilities.
That arrangement worked well for several years as our kids grew up and left home. I even replaced the old dishwasher in a generous display of solidarity.
The first warning sign occurred when I began to find different types of cooking utensils among the dirty dishes and our meals became more exotic.
As empty nesters, she said we could be more adventuresome in our meal choices.
That sounded innocent enough at the time.
But I grossly underestimated the influence of Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray and other Food Network chefs.
And I was totally unaware that professional-grade cooking gear could be purchased online.
It soon became apparent that it requires more tools to prepare the food than to serve it.
How many measuring cups, spatulas, graters, peelers, pans, bowls, processors and other stuff does one cook need?
I pointed out politely that TV chefs had an army of crew members to clean up after their cooking shows but she had only me.
I asked respectfully if I should refer to myself as her “key grip” or “best boy” or whatever a flunky is called in a TV kitchen.
I was standing at the kitchen sink, drying my dishpan hands, when she answered:
“Cheer up. If I make it to The Food Network, I might take you with me.”