By Ralph Trenary
After decades of marital bliss I find that there exists a long, long list of curious habits and memorable events. The title of this column recalls one issue within the Trenary household – “Salt Versus Pepper” describes the ongoing contest of garlic salt versus lemon pepper between the Supreme High Household Commander (SuHiHoCom) and me.
The precise beginnings of this household conflict have been left hazy by the passage of time, but the flashpoint event is forever burned into my memory. Very much like a domestic Pearl Harbor.
Back in the days when I flew a desk for the Adjutant General of the Colorado National Guard, the SuHiHoCom would occasionally provide logistics support for my daily duties protecting truth, justice and the American way. On this particular day, her Class I (food) operations were compromised by either simple error or pure orneriness.
Included in my regular midday ration of semi-preserved foodstuffs was a family standard-issue, re-usable and recyclable plastic box of 3 to 4 ounces of hometown dairy-delivered cottage cheese. According to Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), this modest portion of dairy product should be lightly sprinkled with lemon pepper.
On the day of the incident this was not the case. My first mouthful of cottage cheese instantly raised the biological warfare alarms. The presence of garlic salt, not on Italian bread with spaghetti, but on my cottage cheese, was unmistakable. Only the proximity of my circular file (trash can) saved me that morning. Eventually, the family standard-issue reusable plastic box was sanitized and returned to the brown paper bag home-to-office transportation container.
Years before a distinguished member of the staff, probably a Non-Commissioned Officer, had donated a full-sized refrigerator to our break room. You could tell that we were Army and not Air Force by the lack of an automatic ice maker. With that luxury the brown paper bag was used rather than the multi-compartmented vinyl bags with matching freezer bricks used by the Trenary Offspring (TOs).
As I recovered from the assault on my taste buds I began the investigation. With careful choice of words I contacted the SuHiHoCom by landline. Even in the cellular age this is a more assured method of reaching my wife. She’s long led the way on the issue of “shut-off the bleepin’ cell-phone” both at home and in the car/van/pick-up.
Her response to my description of events and working hypothesis of its origins was questionable. The combination of laughter, “suck it up wimp” and “geez that’s what I put on my cottage cheese…” left me contemplating the risk factors of my next move. This is the kind of moment when I don’t always remember that the rank bestowed upon me by the Governor and the President of the United States doesn’t mean squat with the SuHiHoCom. So, I retreated to a defensive posture and established new protective measures
Since that day I’ve been conducting a covert campaign. I inspect my brown paper bag and plastic box of cottage cheese if I didn’t pack them myself. When I have the chance I will pass the lemon pepper, even if she has requested that other stuff. This provides a few giggles, and accusations of “silly.”
When the area of operations was clear I’ve even practiced a sort of household extraordinary rendition by moving the garlic salt from the spice cabinet to the baking cabinet or behind the wine glasses. Decades of marriage, and the fun just gets better and better.