John Is Really Cooking
By John Norberg, Humorist s

Last Thursday a friend of mine posted on the Worldwide Refrigerator Door (Facebook) that it was National Men Make Dinner Day.

Actually, she posted the announcement on her husband's page and said, "What are you making tonight?" He handled this suggestion from his wife like a man.

He ignored it. But I image like all good, loving couples they settled this with a compromise and ordered out for pizza.

I was born in the late 1940s so most of my growing up years took place in the '50s. By 1962 I was a teenager and I think it's commonly accepted that when children hit 13 they generally stop growing up and start growing down.

They eventually come out of it. We hope.

So the point of this is, as a male child in the post-World War II era I was raised to believe that the garage, the basement and the yard were perfectly natural places for me to hang out. But the kitchen was not. The kitchen was where women and girls were.

In all my years of schooling I never had one lesson in cooking, or nutrition for that matter. My mother made my sister help preparing dinner and set the table. I was allowed to watch TV.

I took out the garbage, mowed the lawn (except for one incident my sister never lets me forget) and washed the car. But I never learned how to cook.

My wife says when she found me she looked inside my refrigerator and found two empty pizza boxes, homemade bread my sister had given me and a pound of butter. On top were peanut butter crackers.

But this is completely ridiculous. Those pizza boxes weren't empty. They were still crumbs left in them.

Before we got married I thought kitchens were for eating, not for cooking.

During the years of our marriage I have learned to do some of the meal preparation and I'd say I now do about 50 percent.

That means 50 percent of the time my wife asks me to cook, I go ahead and do it. But only after she asks three times so I know she's serious. The other two times I claim I didn't hear her.

Wife: "Are you making dinner tonight?"

Me: "It sounds like it."

Wife: "I didn't ask you to make dinner. I asked if you are making dinner."

Me: "In wifespeak that's the same thing. I'll start the grill."

Although men might not do as much cooking as women, when it comes to grilling that is our territory. Grilling involves fire and smoke. Fire and smoke are man's work.

A woman will invite people over, plan a meal, do the grocery shopping, marinate the meat, prepare homemade potato salad and coleslaw, steam vegetables, bake dessert, set the table, add table decorations, fill the water glasses and make all the hors d'oeuvres. Then in the last minute she hands her husband the meat, he grills it for a few minutes on one side, a few minutes on the other, brings it to the table and tells everyone he made dinner.

Men might not know how to cook. But we do know how to take credit.

In my house, we have another word for my grilling. Burning.

My wife thought it would be a good idea if I cooked on National Men Make Dinner Day.

Me: "Okay I just have a few questions before I get started."

Wife: "The measuring cups are in the upper cupboard to the right of the sink. The pots and pans are in the lower cupboard. The mixer and food processor are in the cabinet about the refrigerator."

Me: "What I want to know is where is the oven."

Wife: "You're not that helpless."

Me: "Of course I'm not. How do you turn it on?"

Rule 1 according to the people who organize this day: National Men Make Dinner Day is "always celebrated on the first Thursday of each November."

This is a good idea. You wouldn't want men making dinner on the fourth Thursday of November. If men did, we'd all be giving thanks over a pepperoni, sausage, onion and cheese pizza from the place down the block.

Rule 2: "The man has to agree to participate in this."

Wife: Do you agree to cook dinner tonight or do you agree that my sisters will come and live with us for the next month?"

Me: "That would be great. They're super cooks!"

Rule 3: "The man, completely un-aided, has to find a 'published' recipe from any source including the Internet."

This works great. I went to the Internet and found 2.24 million recipes involving Rice Krispies.

Rule 4: "The main meal must include a minimum of 4 ingredients."

That's another easy one: brats, boiled in beer add mustard and onions. Brats, beer, mustard, onion. Four. What's so hard about this cooking?

Rule 5: "The man has to do the shopping for all ingredients. Bonus points if he takes inventory of cupboards and fridge first, before shopping trip, so you don't end up with two 64-ounce jars of pickled pimentos."

No problem for me here. I hate pickled pimentos.

Rule 6: "The man has to organize all necessary ingredients in order of importance on kitchen counter."

This is when my eggs fell all over the floor.

Rule 7: "The man may not to be within 30 feet of TV remote during cooking process."

No problem. I tuned the kitchen TV to ESPN before I started.

Rule 8: "Following recipe carefully, the man starts to cook dinner! Apron is optional."

I wore an apron my wife gave me. Written on it are the words: "Only a male cook can spill food on the ceiling." That's really unfair. It only happened a couple times.

Rule 9: "The man must use the 'clean as he goes along' rule!"

This means if something spills on the kitchen floor, make sure the dog takes care of it.

Rule 10: "The man must set the table, light the candles and pour beverages."

I prefer eating by candlelight when I make the meal. That way my wife can't see what a mess I've made.

Here is my advice, guys: Next year the first Thursday in November is November 5th. Plan ahead for Make Your Husband Make Dinner Day

Buy your wife a gift card for an overnight spa good only on November 5th. Follow John Norberg on Facebook at

Copyright@John Norberg