Cooking, Everyday Epiphany, humor

Getting Back In Step

“Maybe it’s because we’ve been in the house too long,” said Mike. 

He attributed our recent quarrel about the proper way of seasoning our new skillet (I know, we have critical arguments.) to a long stretch of bad weather induced close quarters.

The stakes for using an improperly seasoned pan weren’t dire, annoying, but not life threatening. Carcinogens wouldn’t shed into our sautéed mushrooms. However, scrambled eggs might stick to the surface.

“I think it’s because we don’t dance enough.”

Out Of Step

Tone of voice (both of ours), not listening (more Mike than me), and not bowing to previous experience (more me than Mike, ok, totally me) escalated a nonissue into a grievance.

The fancy French skillets, a Christmas present from my son, included directions for seasoning the pan. 

“Preheat oven to 400 degrees.” 

I cranked up the GE.

“Place a lined baking sheet on the bottom rack of oven to catch any shortening that drips down.”

Cookie sheet employed.

“Wash and thoroughly dry skillet.”

A squirt of Dawn into hot water, toweled dried, heated on stove for good measure.

“Apply a thin coat of vegetable oil.”

Wesson smeared.

“Place pan in middle rack”

Pan placed.

“Bake for 45-60 minutes.”

Timer set for 52.5 minutes. (I split the difference.)

“Remove pan, wipe it dry, let it cool completely.”

Pan cooled.

Mike entered.

“That doesn’t feel right,” he said as he ran his finger over the skillet’s surface.

I explained how and what I did.

“Not enough oil, the wrong kind, and maybe leave it in longer,” he said.

This was when our tones of voices led to not listening to each other and me ignoring that Mike had successfully seasoned numerous pans and I might benefit from his experience.

We huffed about for a while, settled down, and agreed the quarrel avoidable.

Mike blamed the incident on “cabin fever” and I suggested dancing as a solution.

“It works for bees,” I said in a pleasant tone of voice to an attentive Mike.

Bees Dancing

About 80 years ago Karl von Frisch, a bee researcher (yes, that’s a thing), discovered that scout bees (yes, that’s a thing, too) communicated the location of pollen and nectar to other bees by dancing.

Photo by Pixabay on

After locating a promising patch of pollen, the scout bee returned to the hive and danced in a figure eight. Onlookers noted the angle and speed of this “waggle dance” and calculated the distance and direction of the food source. Then they flew from the hive and harvested their food.

Bees accurately communicated complex messages in the dark while Mike and I huffily miscommunicated in a bright kitchen. 

A Dose of Dancing

Mike chats like a normal person when we dance. I count my steps aloud and ask if there’s a twirl coming.

Dancing required eye contact, communication and benefited from cooperation. I knew this from experience.

Mike was a skilled dancer and when we danced together, he chatted about other dancers, the songs, the musicians. 

I talked as well. Ok, not so much talk as narrated what we’re doing. “One, two, three turn. Is the twirl coming soon?”

I mostly let him lead since he promised not to let me fall down. (That only happened once. In our defense it was outside on uneven terrain.) On a good day I didn’t step on his feet.

Dancing Behaviors

Had we maintained proximity and eye contact (as we did when we danced) during the “seasoning the skillet” conversation, I would have recognized Mike’s words for what they were – helpful not critical. He would have understood that I wanted to accomplish a task on my own. There would have been no impatient tone of voice, no huffiness, no quarrel.

Everyday life, like outside dancing, sometimes has uneven terrain. Mike will always do his best to keep me from falling and most of the time I won’t step on his feet.

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