The fish in the refrigerator was leftover from the night before. Cod. Yes. It was cod pan fried in olive oil with salt, pepper, a tiny bit of garlic and paprika. He remembered she shook the seasonings on lightly.
While she tended to the fish, he chopped a blend of yellow squash, zucchini, and onions. These were perfectly seasoned as well, but, with a little basil chopped up for good measure.
He heated the pan with oil from olives as well, and began placing the vegetables in the pan. You might want to turn your heat down, the wife said. He grinned and did as he was told. And basil? Why are you using basil? Will that taste good? she turned the fish over in the pan; one side had become crispy brown.
This ain’t my first rodeo, he said, again turning the flame down more. He kept stirring the squash, wanting it to snap when bitten into. The husband looked over at her fish. Always the star of the show, he thought. Me, I’m stuck with the sideshow, the assistant said in a whisper. The chef looked at him as she placed the fish on a paper towel for the grease to absorb.
Always in second, he said.
I said, always in second. Never the featured act.
What are you talking about?
The meal, the husband said. I’m always the supporting cast. Obviously your fish is the star of the show.
My mixture is simply meant to accent it.
You feel that way?
Yes. Yes, I do. In twenty-two years of marriage I’ve become nothing but an assistant, second to your first. However, the fish does look very good. I probably could’ve had the same results. Yes. I believe I could have.
Well, I suppose so, she said, shocked by his tantrum.
Who makes the turkey at Thanksgiving?
And the prime rib at Christmas?
That would be me.
Yes. Yes. And I’m stuck with stuffing and Yorkshire pudding. Simple tasks. Wouldn’t you agree?
Don’t darling me. You’ve plotted throughout this marriage to always be the star of the show.
Have you lost your mind?
Perhaps. Yes. Perhaps.
There was a pause between them. The onions had began to caramelize. It smelled wonderful. The whole meal did. And, they looked at each other and began to laugh. He held her close and whispered, I’m sorry. At which she apologized as well.
The meal was eaten in silence.