When someone was behaving oddly, my Grandpa Jack used to say they were “crackers.”
I giggled at the way he said it, with sharp emphasis as if shooting off a firework. Grandpa Jack was a spark of joy for me. I miss laughing with him about silly things. Simple humour. I miss him.
Grandpa Jack passed away before I met the Carpenter, so those two never had the chance to bond over sports, politics and why I’m awesome (humour, stay with me here). Grandpa Jack would have loved the Carpenter too.
Yet, I swear I heard my grandpa’s voice last night at our dinner table. The Carpenter and I were enjoying one of our regular dinners: tomato soup and crackers. Everything about this simple meal is a metaphor for how much we’ve grown as a couple.
When we met in our 20s, we couldn’t afford much, so soup was a staple. It was also a meal where we learned to compromise. The Carpenter preferred Campbell’s soup. I liked Heinz. Sales dictated our options.
The Carpenter added milk to his soup, but I am dairy-free, so he learned to water his soup down. That took some getting used to. What came easy though was the hearty conversations shared over a nurturing, affordable meal together, plotting our life dreams.
That tradition remains, especially as the cost of adulting dictates the need for soup nights to continue, even on Valentine’s Day. Only now it’s always Campbell’s. It’s still watered down. The dreams have evolved.
Yet, this meal remains one of my favourites, for the fun it still ignites between us. The soup is warm, but the debate is always hot. It all comes down to the crackers. It’s a very contentious issue.
This week, the Carpenter served the soup in deep bowls that he placed on dinner plates, to allow space for our crackers and the big spoon. Presentation matters. We’re fancy like that.
Two boxes of crackers were set out where the candles and flowers should have been (she says dryly): one box of round salted crackers, one box of square salted crackers.
I remarked on the irony of the 57-cent can of soup mixed with crackers that cost dollars more. We laughed as we reached for our respective boxes of crackers, his round, mine square.
I grabbed six crackers from the plastic sleeve and centered them over the bowl, smashing them up with my hands into big broken pieces, landing in the soup bowl. I picked up the spoon and stirred my soup.
The Carpenter took five round crackers from the box and laid them out in a circle atop the soup, before pushing them down with his spoon, one at a time, into the red liquid. Little bubbles surfaced from the perforated holes in his crackers. He was drowning the crackers, then spooning them up to eat whole. Weirdo.
Our eyes met. A silent, “what are you looking at?” exchanged. That sparked hilarious judgements, mockery and insults. Laughter. Humour. Love.
I swear I heard Grandpa Jack chuckling at the scene and remarking in his jolly voice, “You two are crackers!”
Yes, we are. That’s a good thing.