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Who knew cooking could be so hard?

Retirees are often asked what they intend to do with all the time they will have on their hands for the rest of their lives. I certainly had to field those inquiries, but my retirement has never been in doubt. I knew it was going to be "yes, dear; no, dear; thank you very much, dear."

I knew I would become what is uncommonly known as a "house husband," and from the responses I have been getting from my female friends, this is a much-sought-after and highly prized individual, made especially so, because the role requires the services of a male.

I must admit that I do not come to my duties as a novice, having been trained as a young boy by a resourceful grandmother to do everything that needed to be done in the home. My education did not end there, for I was fortunate enough to marry a lady more intelligent than I and whose career would be spent in the classroom.

She, too, was more than willing to extend my education when circumstances so warranted it, like in our first year of marriage when I fell into the "males should do this" and "females should do that" sort of nonsense.

I well remember saying to her one day that my mother used to stand on cold corners in the winter waiting for buses to take her to work, would return home to cook on occasion, then clean the house whenever it was necessary. I asked my wife why she couldn't do the same. Her reply was simple, "because I'm not your mother." Only a fool would have continued that line of questioning.

While maintaining a house has never really been a major challenge, I dare not say the same for putting a meal on the table. I know now that it's so easy when all you have to do is to sit down to a dinner that has already been prepared, and with little thought or care as to how it got there. The reality hit me when I had to prepare not just one meal but a meal for every night of the week, a challenge that can drive a person nuts.

Now I know why some women just roll their eyes when asked once again, "Mom, what's for dinner?" I struggle with decisions about the menu, what to eat and the putting together of those dreaded shopping lists. Then there's Wegmans and those 50 aisles just sitting there waiting to laugh behind my back. Yes, it gets personal. And I am thoroughly convinced that those incorrigible aisles deliberately shift themselves around just to confuse an uninitiate like myself -- miss one item and dinner is shot.

But check this, you must. I was walking down one of those endless aisles when I heard a male voice ask, "Where is the mustard?" I turned, thinking that he was talking to me, but noticed that he was on his cell and being directed from home central. The mustard was directly behind him, and I started to inform him of such, but then I remembered an old saying that we used to have when I was a kid, "When you find a fool, don't woke him, let him slept." I was miserable, so why shouldn't he be? Men are clueless.

The other day when I picked up my wife from work, she wanted to know what was on the agenda. Translated: Are we eating in or out? I asked if she would like to go to a nice restaurant for dinner. Translated: My cooking failed. Sensing my struggles, she said, "Hon, have you ever thought about taking cooking lessons?" I was controlled; I maintained my cool. "No, hon, but I have thought about going back to work."

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Wes Carter, who lives in Clarence, retired from the University at Buffalo in May.

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