I used to wonder why my mother hated cooking so much. I used to wonder why she cooked salmon fillets for two hours and pot roast for one. I thought for a long time that it was because she was a bad cook, because she rejected cooking as a way of rejecting us, because she was, at heart, a liar. Now I understood that she hated cooking because she didn’t know how to do it and so had no idea how a meal might turn out. I understood that she simply wasn’t cut out for it, and yet, because she was part of the postwar suburban vanguard, she knew she was going to be judged on it — and so she demanded to be judged on it, meal after awful meal. Hence, the fibs; hence, the lies. She was as innocent of culinary knowledge as the housewives of her era were supposed to be innocent of sexual knowledge, and once I figured that out, I came to the same conclusion I came to when I figured out the extent of my father’s infidelities: they were in over their heads. They were more unhappy than I ever allowed myself to know. They deserved the love they got, and the forgiveness they didn’t.
I love those Esquire articles.