The Way To A Man’s Heart
Everyone knows it’s via his stomach... So, what if you can’t cook?
‘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
‘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.’
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.’