The Way To A Man’s Heart

Every­one knows it’s via his stom­ach... So, what if you can’t cook?

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - News - THE END ©Linda Lewis

‘When I’m here, I’m re­minded of home – a bit un­tidy, but full of love’

Have you thought about Christ­mas din­ner yet?’ my mother asked me. ‘You know what they say – the way to a man’s heart is through his stom­ach.’

Un­til Tim came along, none of my boyfriends had lasted very long. Dad said it was be­cause I’m not house-trained. Things most women find easy, like sewing on a but­ton or iron­ing, I’m hope­less at. I’d be look­ing for­ward to our first Christ­mas if I wasn’t such a ter­ri­ble cook.

We met at a New Year’s Eve party. My usual type is tall, dark and hand­some. Tim’s my height, five foot nine, with hair the colour of new-mown hay. I only no­ticed him when we played cha­rades. He was so funny, my ribs ached from laugh­ing. When he asked me out, his voice a per­fect im­i­ta­tion of Shrek, I couldn’t say no. It was the best de­ci­sion I’ve ever made.

I thought we’d be spend­ing Christ­mas with my par­ents, but when my dad turned 60, they an­nounced they were go­ing to Spain.

‘A sec­ond hon­ey­moon,’ Dad said, his eyes twin­kling.

My par­ents can’t walk past each other with­out cud­dling. I com­plained about it, of­ten, but se­cretly I en­vied them.

‘Are you still there? Mum said. ‘Yes. What am I go­ing to do? Tim doesn’t know I can’t cook.’

‘Not a prob­lem,’ she replied. ‘I’ll come over on Satur­day and show you how.’

Af­ter two week­ends, and three ru­ined tur­key crowns, Mum ad­mit­ted de­feat. ‘Don’t worry,’ she said. ‘I have an idea.’

Three days be­fore they flew out to Spain, she de­liv­ered two bulging car­rier bags. She’d cooked an en­tire Christ­mas din­ner and frozen it.

‘The con­tain­ers are num­bered.

All you do is fol­low these in­struc­tions.’

She handed me a sheet of pa­per. It looked ridicu­lously sim­ple, even for me. I flung my arms round her neck. ‘You’re the best.’

‘I know,’ she said. ‘I’ll call you on Christ­mas Day to see how it went.’

Some­how, I squeezed ev­ery­thing into the freezer. It meant hav­ing to eat half a tub of pis­ta­chio ice cream, but I didn’t mind that.

On Christ­mas morn­ing, I woke to a light frost­ing of snow, Tim asleep be­side me. I felt so happy, I al­most burst. I crept out of bed to fetch his present, then woke him with a kiss.

He spot­ted the pack­age right away. ‘Happy Christ­mas, but no presents un­til af­ter din­ner. It’s a fam­ily tra­di­tion.’

Thanks to Mum, the meal was a huge suc­cess. Even the gravy was lump-free. I’d banned Tim from the kitchen, so he had no idea it wasn’t down to me.

Tim wiped his mouth with a nap­kin. ‘Thank you. That meal was amaz­ing. Right, present time.’ He jumped up from his seat, just as I was about to con­fess. I de­cided it could wait un­til af­ter the presents.

I gave him a por­ta­ble doc­u­ment scan­ner so he could digi­tise the moun­tain of fam­ily pho­tos he’d in­her­ited when his mum died. His thank you kiss went on for ever. In the end, I had to push him away.

‘My turn,’ I said, ex­cit­edly. He placed a beau­ti­fully wrapped present into my hand. I ripped off the pa­per, re­veal­ing a jew­ellery box, In­side was a gor­geous neck­lace of del­i­cate sil­ver hearts. On the mid­dle one was an en­grav­ing. ‘To Lucy. The woman I adore.’

‘I love you too,’ I said softly. He took my hand and for a while we just sat there gaz­ing at each other un­til he whis­pered three words that broke the trance. ‘Marry me, Lucy.’

The mo­ment was so mag­i­cal, I wasn’t sure I’d heard right. ‘Sorry. What did you say?’

‘I asked you to marry me.’ He grinned. ‘I would have asked sooner if I’d known you could cook like that.’

My eu­pho­ria burst. I led him into the kitchen and opened the bin, re­veal­ing a pile of care­fully la­belled plas­tic con­tain­ers.

‘Mum did the cook­ing. I was go­ing to tell you later.’

Tim brushed a strand of hair from my face. ‘So, you’re not a great cook. Who cares?’

‘You didn’t pro­pose be­cause of the meal?’

He ac­tu­ally guf­fawed.

‘Of course not! I’d have bought a ring but I don’t know your size.’

‘Be­fore I say yes, there’s more you need to know.’

He held his hands up in mock hor­ror. ‘Let me guess: you can’t sew ei­ther?’

I nod­ded. ‘I’m hope­less at any kind of house­work. Weeks can go by be­fore I get round to vac­u­um­ing.’

Tim pulled me closer. ‘My dad died when I was ten. To make ends meet, Mum had to hold down two jobs. She didn’t have time for house­work. When­ever I’m here, I’m re­minded of home – a bit un­tidy, but filled with love.’

Our kiss was in­ter­rupted by the phone. It was Mum, call­ing to wish us both a

Happy Christ­mas.

‘I can’t talk long,’ she said. ‘Your dad wants to prac­tise the tango. We’re hav­ing les­sons. So how was din­ner?’

‘Per­fect. Tim was so im­pressed, he pro­posed.’

‘Con­grat­u­la­tions! See?

I was right. The way to a man’s heart IS through his stom­ach.’ She low­ered her voice. ‘You’ll have to tell him some­day. If I were you, I’d wait un­til af­ter the wed­ding.’

‘It’s OK, Mum. He knows.’ ‘And he STILL wants to marry you?’

I chuck­led as Tim’s arms snaked round my waist. ‘He does. I guess I found a dif­fer­ent way to his heart.’

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