Fillet of Sewer
By Jack Bogut, a prospering survivor…
Joni tested our marriage the other day - we had tuna casserole for dinner. You remember Tuna casserole? It's one dish in life that conjures up an image of every bad meal you've ever had doesn't it?
If tuna casserole were given a sound effect it would be THUD!
If a dead elephant is a live mouse built by congress; if a drunken camel is a sober gazelle planned by a committee; then it stands to reason that tuna casserole is a recipe put together by accident. And it usually starts with a lie;
"What's for dinner tonight honey?"
"It's a surprise."
"Does that mean it's something I don't like but you've discovered a new recipe for it and you hope to prove that I'm wrong when I say I don't like it and serve it for dinner?"
"Joni, shall I call the coroner or are you still there?"
"Yes, what? Yes, I should call the coroner? Yes, you're still there? Or yes, you're gonna’ make something I don't...oh, no. You're not gonna’ make tuna Casserole?"
"Bogie, I've found a new recipe in the Women's Club Cookbook that is supposed to be very good, with all white meat tuna and tomatoes and onions and a little crunchy crust on the top!"
Tuna casserole. The original “Filet of Sewer. It’s not only tough to eat, but it gets such a hard crust around the top of the dish it has to sit in a sink full of water for a week just to soften it. I wonder if highway departments have ever investigated tuna casserole crust for filling potholes.
“Honey,” she called, “Where are you?”
"I'll be in the basement!"
There's always just a hint of fishy aroma that fills the house when a tuna casserole starts to bake, just enough of a smell to make the back corners of your tongue start to crawl under your teeth as recollections start marching through the worst part of your memory.
Then Joni called down the stairs in her sweetest, most cheerful voice,
"Dinner's ready, honey."
When I got to the kitchen she had already fixed her plate and was headed with her tray to watch the news. I scooped up as much as I thought it would take to impress her and dumped it on my plate with a flop. Then I got some crackers and butter, a couple of pickles and a glass of water and headed with my tray to the family room.
I saw her watching me with an uncertain look in her eye.
"What's on the news, honey?" I asked, trying to avoid the obvious.
"Doesn't have much flavor, does it?" Joni asked, ignoring my question.
"It's okay," I said with affection because she had taken me off the hook! I didn't have to complain. I didn't have to make a verbal judgment because she'd said it for me.
So I got up, went to the kitchen, made myself a ham salad sandwich, went back in the family room and proceeded to show off by eating both the sandwich and the casserole, which didn't taste too bad if I gulped the tuna and used the ham salad as a chaser.
And then Joni said,
"You didn’t have to eat that!"
Now she tells me.