They compared prices in three stores, then returned to the first and purchased a fifteen-inch, blonde-wood veneer, Crosley console television set.
The carton didn’t fit in the trunk, so Mitchell lowered the top and, the salesman lending some muscle, the two men put the box onto the back seat before raising the top again.
It was becoming dark and snow was beginning to fall as they parked in front of the building.
With the help of Marsha, they were able to wrestle the carton out of the back seat of the car, to the elevator and into their apartment.
Marsha studied the “Niles Township, Jewish Congregation, Sisterhood Cookbook” given to her by Myra...
First Supper: The Second Day of Their Lives 4
Seagate, New York
December 19, 1955: 5:15 p.m.
Following the instructions step by step, she put the ground chuck into a bowl, as…
Mitchell cautiously unpacked the television set.
The book: 1-½ lb. ground beef. It’s only a pound, Marsha thought, so I’ll put a little less of everything in, as…
Mitchell positioned the television set…
The book: 1 t salt. I’ll use three-quarters of a teaspoon.
…in the right hand corner, to the left of the long closet…
The book: ½ t dry mustard. Uh-oh, don’t have any dry mustard. Oh, well, we’ll have to get along without dry mustard. How much difference can there be? So in went a half teaspoon of French’s Prepared Mustard.
…and plugged it into the wall socket.
The book: ½ t ground pepper. Oh, almost a teaspoon ought to do it… And, her eyes drawn to the next ingredient. The book: 2 T…
“Marcie,” Mitchell called, “this about where you want it?”
“Uh,” her concentration broken, she looked up. “Yes, Mitch, that looks about right.” Back to her meatloaf: 2 Tablespoons pepper. Eh, I’ll use one and a half, and, filling a heaping tablespoon, sprinkled it over the meat, then another half, as…
Mitchell turned the set on, and…
The book: 2 T chili sauce. Oops, don’t have any chili sauce either. But, Catsup ought to do.
…the black and white picture erupted into a series of squiggling horizontal bars.
The book: ¼ cup water. Marsha thought, just as little water. As…
Looking in the carton, Mitchell found the rabbit-ears antenna, and…
The book: 2 eggs. Marsha cracked one egg, and dropped it into the bowl.
…attached them to the terminals behind the set. And…
The book: 1 cup corn flakes. They hadn’t bought corn flakes, so, shrugging her shoulders, she crumbled shredded wheat into the bowl.
…the squiggling lines solidified, and as he turned the rabbit ears, squaring at the corners, the picture become the six o’clock news.
The book: Beat eggs and water, add seasoning, blend well and put into a cooking pan. Uh, the egg and water already laying upon her pound of ground chuck, oh, well. Having washed her hands before beginning, closing her eyes, putting her right hand into the bowl, ground chuck, salt, pepper—lots of pepper—French’s Prepared Mustard, catsup and crumbled shredded wheat squishing and straining through her fingers, Marsha “blended well.”
An hour later, lying on the floor nibbling potato chips, watching “I Love Lucy,” “Marcie, that smells fantastic! You sure I can’t help set the table, or something?”
“Tomorrow, maybe, but tonight I want to do it all myself.”
In addition to meatloaf, Marsha had made mashed potatoes and a fresh salad, and had warmed up a can of peas.
Setting the table with Melmac dishes given to them by Morris and Jennie, “Mitch, can I ask you a question?”
“How come, do you think, your grandparents got us dishes these colors?”
Thinking a moment, he came up with the only possible—though not too logical—answer: “It makes sense if you think about it.”
“Yeah, how so?”
“You got them at the shower your aunts threw for you in October, right?”
Having no idea what he was talking about, “Yes.”
“Halloween’s in October. If they got them for us now, in December, they’d probably be red and green.”
Thinking a moment, coming up with the same illogical answer, “Yeah, I guess,” she said, adding, “Okay, it’s ready! Come and get it!”
“Marcie, that looks wonderful!”
Aligned perfectly, two orange dinner plates were directly across from each other. To the right of the orange dishes were black salad bowls. To the left of the dishes was a folded paper napkin and upon each napkin a stainless steel knife, fork and spoon. Directly in front of the orange dishes were clear, twelve-ounce plastic glasses filled with ice cubes and strawberry—pop in Chicago, in New York—soda. At one side of the table, a large pad of butter melting in the middle, was a black bowl filled with mashed potatoes. At the other side of the table, with butter melting within also, was an orange bowl with peas. Next to the orange bowl were black and orange salt and pepper shakers. Alongside the black bowl were the two bottles of salad dressing. At the exact center of the table, steaming on an orange platter, looking picture perfect, was Marsha’s meatloaf…
Of which she served her husband a man-sized helping, along with peas and potatoes.
Marsha then served herself.
Watching the look of pride on her face, waiting for her to finish serving… Now, the look on her face changing, “Marcie, what’s wrong?”
“Mitchie,” blinking her eyes, “I feel like crying.”
Actually, “What’s the matter, baby?” he could see that she was crying.
“Nothing’s the matter, it’s just that I’m so happy. I still can’t believe that we’re really married and here,” motioning to the room, “in our own home, and that I’ve just made our very first meal.”
“Marcie, I love you!” Holding his glass of strawberry pop—they’re both Chicagoans, after all—forward, “May this be the first of a million meals together.”
Lifting her glass, the plastic klunked as the rims touched.
Looking at each other, each felt the emotion of this once-in-a-lifetime memorable moment.
Putting their glasses down, Marsha watched for Mitchell’s reaction to her meatloaf as he cut a large piece of it with the edge of his fork, speared it, put it into his mouth, chewed a second or two, and… Marsha got his reaction, because, Ulp! taking a forkful of mashed potatoes, “What’s, the matter?” he shoveled that in, too.
“Uh,” forcibly swallowing, “nothing, it’s…” swallowing again, “great.” Watching her watch him, he took another piece of meatloaf—a much smaller piece of meatloaf—but before putting it into his mouth, loading his fork with mashed potatoes, putting it in his mouth, “Mmmm, it’s great, Marcie,” he said through pursed lips, before taking swig of strawberry pop to wash it down.
Puzzled, Marsha cut into the meatloaf, put it into her mouth, and… Ulp! Yaght! Gagging, running into the bathroom, spitting it into the toilet, “Don’t eat it!” she yelled. “It’ll kill you!”
In the kitchen, Oh, God, Mitchell thought, looking skyward, Thank you!
Gargling with mouthwash, “I don’t know what I did wrong.”
Returning to the kitchen, “I followed the directions.” Taking the cookbook from their makeshift pantry, opening to the meatloaf page, scanning the directions, “Uh-oh, guess I made kind of a little mistake.”
“Yeah?” he asked. “What kind of a little mistake?”
“The book says to use a half-teaspoon of ground pepper for a pound and a half meatloaf, and I thought I’d use about a quarter-teaspoon, but…” she said sheepishly, “I used a”—remembering at the time that it did seem just a bit excessive—“a tablespoon and…”
“A tablespoon! A full tablespoon of pepper?”
“Well, yeah, but that wasn’t all.”
“You used more than a tablespoon of pepper?”
“Well, yeah. Actually, I used a tablespoon and a half.”
“A tablespoon and a half of pepper for a one pound meatloaf?”
“Well no, what?”
“I used a heaping tablespoon and a half…”
“For a one pound meatloaf?”
Biting her lower lip, “Yeah,” blinking her eyes rapidly.
“Poor baby.” Coming to her, kneeling before the chair, putting his arms about her waist, hugging her, “It’s okay, baby.”
Putting her head on his shoulder, “Oh, Mitchie.”
“Look at it this way, baby”—tempted to say “almost”—“anyone can make a meatloaf.” His hand on her back, feeling Marsha gasp, “And if this meal were perfect,” patting her on the back, “sooner or latter we’d forget about it, but this way it’s kind of, uh, memorable, and we’ll always remember it.” Feeling her gasp again, and again, “So please, honey, don’t cry.”
Marsha was not crying, really—she was laughing.