The husband comes home, surveys the fort of pillows the boy and I have made in the living room and correctly guesses that I haven’t bothered with dinner.
Me: “Nope. The boy needed to play after a morning of watching Jen and I can.”
Husband: “Let’s go out.”
I throw on a dress, heels to hide my summer ugly feet, comb out my hair and slap on lipstick.
Me: “Let’s go.”
As we walk into the downstairs of the converted house to restaurant, a fellow diner with bobbed hair, a perfect tan and a trendy t-shirt looks at me and sighs, “Here comes Barbie.” I stop and stare. She’s fifteen to twenty years older than me, attractive, dining with other women. I wanted to defend myself, say that beyond blondish hair, I look nothing like Barbie. If anything, I look like Barbie’s stumpy older sister. I wanted to say, “This Barbie spent her day canning and pickling zucchini.” Instead, I took a seat and mentally planned a phone call to my sister and mother.
I ate vegetable lasagna, the boy devoured a miniature pizza, the husband a salad drowned in salami and olives, and I fumed. I fumed and thought of all the studies and theory I have read on identity performance, and yet, I consistently suck at performing identity, or at least, I am consistently read in a way that is at odds with my self-conception. Then, I asked for another glass of red wine and thought, “Screw it. I canned zucchini.”
And yes, canning evoked that much pride. To can, one must follow multiple steps and overcome the constant fear of botulism and third degree burns. It helps to have a friend who will not shudder at expletives and not flinch at your blunders, like almost forgetting to add the pickling salt. If that friend is also a skilled technical communicator that is also thinking of revising the instructions to make them more usable, consider yourself blessed. I did.
Behold the fruits of our labors.
The cans sealed, but I am still waiting to taste for pickling takes five days. We used Bon Appetit’s recipe.
Jen brought pulverized grapes and made jam, delicious jam.
During the process, there were scares and squeals, but now that I know the process, I will do it again, and if all else fails, I will launch Beck’s Preserves, assuming that no one dies upon tasting the pickled zucchini.