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When Jason compliments his wife, Heather, on the amazing dinner she made last year for Mother’s Day, he gets a response that surprises him – but really shouldn’t have. Soon, Jason, his cousin, Cole, and a few other ‘clueless’ husbands find themselves learning to cook from the Cook-Nazi at the local prison, of all places. After he learns his Mother’s Day lesson, Jason is off to his next fiasco. This short story is filled with wonderful life lessons woven together with a humor that is classic Jack Weyland.
- Chapter One: Mother's Day Boot Camp
- Chapter Two: Just Call Me Coach
- Chapter Three: Communication Boot Camp
- Chapter Four: What Good is a Family Reunion Anyway?
- Chapter Five: Extreme Daddy Time
- Chapter Six: Guess What? We're Having a Ward Project?
- Chapter Seven: Between Jobs
- Chapter Eight: Didn't See That Coming
About the Author
Jack Weyland received a bachelor’s degree from Montana State University and a Ph.D. from BYU. He teaches physics at Brigham Young UniversityIdaho, where he is also known for his saxophone playing and wry sense of humor. He and his wife, Sheryl, have five children and live in Rexburg, Idaho.
Mother’s Day Boot Camp
My first mistake was complimenting my wife, Heather. “Hon,
for Mother’s Day are you going to make that candied ham like you did last year?
That was so good! Oh, the scalloped potatoes were great too!”
She glared at me. “Jason?”
“Nothing,” she said through clenched teeth and stormed out
to the garden.
I figured she just needed to commune with nature. I’m a lot
like that too. That’s why I’d gone golfing with my buddies that morning.
While she was in the garden, I sat down in front of the TV
with some nachos. I’d had a hard week at work and needed a break. Kevin and
Benjamin, our two oldest boys, were outside playing somewhere in the
neighborhood. So that was good.
About five minutes later, two-year-old Jimmy wandered into
the living room and sat down next to me. I don’t know what he’d been eating but
his messy diaper smelled gross.
“Go see your mom,” I said. “She’ll fix you up.”
He looked up, smiled, and then got up on my lap. The smell
was more than I could take so I picked him up, went to the kitchen, opened the
sliding door, and called out, “Hon, here’s Jimmy. He’s got a messy diaper. I’ll
just set him outside. I know you don’t want it smelling up the house.”
She glared at me. I set Jimmy outside, slid the door shut,
and returned to my game.
In a few minutes, Heather came inside, took Jimmy into the
bathroom, and changed his diaper. On her way back outside, I asked her to get
me a root beer but she must not have heard me.
About half an hour later, it was the bottom of the ninth
with two out, the bases loaded, the Yankees behind by one run. Derek Jeter was
at bat. The count was three balls and two strikes. The home crowd was on their
Just then Heather came in with Jimmy in her arms. She
grabbed the remote and stood in front of me, totally blocking my view.
“This next pitch will decide the game,” the announcer said.
“And here comes the pitch.”
She hit mute on the remote. “Jason, would you care to know
what Mother’s Day was like for me last year?”
“Yeah, sure, hon. How about after the game?”
She shook her head. “For last Mother’s Day I planned the
menu! I bought and cooked the food! I set the table! After we ate, you and the
kids gave me a few presents and some cards, and then I cleaned up the kitchen!
That’s what happened last year!”
“You did a great job too, hon.”
“Do you want to know what Mother’s Day is going to be like
“You will plan the dinner! You will buy the food! You will
cook the food! You and the kids will set the table! We will eat and then you
and the kids will give me presents! And then you and the kids will clean up the
kitchen and put the food away. You got that?”
“You know what? You’re right. You need a rest. How about if we
eat out instead?”
“Let me tell you something! We will not go to a restaurant
on Mother’s Day! And you will not order in the night before!”
“Okay, sure, hon, no problem. What would you like? Maybe a
“I want you to cook!”
“I can’t cook. What would I cook?”
“That’s up to you! You’re in charge of planning the meal.
That’s all I have to say on the subject.”
“Whatever you say. Now could you give me the remote and step
out of the way? I’d kind of like to see how the game turned out.”
“Do you really think you’ve got time for that? Mother’s Day
is only two weeks away.”
I sat down at the kitchen table and pretended to plan the
menu. It soon became clear I needed help, so I walked half a block down the
street to my cousin Cody’s house. Not because I thought Cody would have any
ideas about what to have for Mother’s Day, but his wife Amanda is a great cook.
I found them cleaning out their garage. I told them about
Heather freaking out.
“So what do you want from us?” Cody asked.
“Well, the thing is, I don’t know to cook, so, uh . . . actually,
Amanda, I was wondering if maybe, when you’re fixing dinner for Mother’s Day,
if you could do it the night before, and maybe cook enough for both our
families, and then I’d come over when Heather was gone and sneak the food into
our house. I might even mess up some pots so she’ll think I’ve done it all.”
Amanda’s eyes got wide. “You want me to cook dinner for your family for Mother’s Day?”
“Yeah, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. Of course I’d
kick in money for the food and, oh, also a little for your time.”
She turned to Cody. “You know what? Heather’s on the right track.
So let me tell you now that I’m not cooking on Mother’s Day, either. It’s all
up to you two. What do you think you’ll have?”
“How about some nice fried chicken from that new place down
the road?” Cody asked.
“I thought about that too,” I said, “but Heather says she
doesn’t want me buying anything on Sunday.”
“We could get it on Saturday,” Cody said.
“I thought of that too, but Heather says that would be too
easy. She wants me to cook.”
Amanda nodded. “That’s what I want too, Cody. You’re in
charge of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Mother’s Day.”
Cody glared at me. “Could we step outside for a minute?”
We went in the front yard. “Thanks for ruining my life!” he
“How could I know Amanda was going to freak out too?” I
asked. “What are we going to do?”
“I have no idea,” he said.
“I didn’t sign up for this when I got married,” I said. “I
don’t go around telling Heather she has to clean the garage for Father’s Day!
So where does she get off telling me I have to cook on Mother’s Day?”
After a long pause, I sighed. “You know we’re going to have
to do this, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I know. So what do we do?” he said.
“Well, for one thing, we don’t ask any other wives to bail
us out. If this snowballed, I’d end up being universally hated by all the
fathers in the ward.”
“We got to get someone to teach us how to cook something,”
“Who?” I asked.
“Let me think,” he said.
“While you’re thinking, how about if we go to the driving
range?” I asked.
On our third bucket of balls, Cody came up with a possible
solution. “Okay, I’ve got it. There’s a guy at work whose aunt cooks at the
county jail. Let me ask him if she’d be willing to teach us how to cook
something for dinner on Mother’s Day.”
“Sounds good.” A few minutes later I dropped Cody off at his
An hour later he called me and said he’d set it up. We’d
each pay this woman twenty dollars to give us a cooking lesson, and she’d do it
in the kitchen of the county jail starting at ten o’clock on Saturday, which
would still give us a week to get ready for Mother’s Day.
I figured this was a good idea as long as we kept it quiet. There
was no reason for anyone else to know what we were going to do.
But that didn’t work. On Sunday, either Heather or Amanda
told some other women in church about it, because after church I got four phone
calls from guys in the ward complaining that their wives had told them they
would also be cooking dinner on Mother’s Day.
So on Saturday morning we six guys from the ward gathered at
the county jail. After waiting for ten minutes, the jail cook came out to get us.
She must have been six foot two and stronger than any of us. “You will address
me as Chief Dietician Jones! I will now collect your fees! Place them in your
right hand as I come by to pick them up! Do you understand?”
We all nodded. She was so scary I privately vowed to always
live a law-abiding life.
We each put the required twenty dollars in our right hand before
she passed by us. Then she led us into the kitchen area. In the middle of the
room there was a long stainless steel table with six stools set up around it.
“Today I will be teaching you how to prepare Chicken a la
Mayo,” she shouted. “Do any of you know the significance of that name?”
I looked at each of the other guys and saw fear in their eyes.
We all stared straight ahead.
“Is it what people from Mexico eat for one of their national
holidays?” I asked.
“It is not!” she yelled. “It is a chicken dish that uses
mayonnaise!” She went to the refrigerator. “I will now issue to each of you a
chicken breast. I want you to pound it until it is a quarter of an inch thick.
You may commence pounding as soon as you receive your chicken.”
I didn’t really know how she wanted us to pound the chicken.
Nobody else did either, so we all just stared at the piece of chicken.
“I do not see pounding going on!” she yelled.
I panicked. I took off a shoe and began pounding my chicken
Two whacks and she was all over me. “What are you doing?”
“Uh, pounding the chicken?”
“You are not respecting the chicken! Give me twenty-five
She got in my face. “I want you to give me twenty-five
pushups! If you do not, I’ll make it so you never get out of here! One word to
the judge and that’s all it takes! Is that what you want?”
I got down and began doing pushups. The first ten went okay
but after that I slowed down and finally had to stop to catch my breath.
“You are a disgrace to this jail!” she yelled.
I nodded and kept on doing pushups until I’d finished twenty-five.
When I sat down again, Cody leaned over and, with a stupid
grin on his face, whispered, “So, dude, what are you in for?”
“Beating up my cousin.”
He chuckled. “I’m not worried. You know why? I can actually
do twenty-five pushups.”
“Not another word from you two!” Chief Dietician Jones
Things went better after that. She started to demonstrate
what she wanted us to do and then we just copied what she did.
While our chicken breasts were cooking, she taught us how to
make a Waldorf salad, for which we had to chop celery, apples and walnuts into
tiny pieces. It was a never-ending job. “Good grief,” I complained, “Can’t
these people chew anything?”
“Hey! Pipe down over there!” Chief Dietician Jones yelled.
Next she taught us how to bake a potato, what frozen
vegetables would be good to serve with the chicken, and the basics of table-setting.
By this time, she’d quit treating us like low-life
criminals. “How many of you clowns have ever made pancakes?” she asked.
We all raised our hands.
“I’m going to teach you how to make crepes. A crepe is like
a pancake except thinner. You’re going to put cut-up fresh fruit and ice cream
inside each crepe.”
She taught us every step along the way.
When our chickens had finished cooking, she cut up one of
the pieces and let us have a taste. It tasted great.
She announced that since we’d used county equipment, she’d
give the rest to her coworkers. We all agreed to let her do that.
By the time we left the jail, we felt good enough about what
we’d learned to shake her hand and thank her.
On Mother’s Day I repeated everything I’d been taught by
Chief Dietician Jones. I chose frozen peas for my vegetable mainly because it
gave a nice color contrast to the chicken, the Waldorf salad, and the baked
After the kids and I had cleaned up the kitchen and given
Heather our presents, I went into the backyard. I needed a little time to
After a few minutes Heather came out. “Is anything wrong?”
I sighed. “The crepes,” I said dejectedly.
“The crepes? What about them?”
I sighed. “I don’t know . . . I just think . . .” I sighed.
“They could’ve been better. Maybe if I’d had a crepe pan, then . . .” I
couldn’t even finish my sentence.
“The crepes were wonderful!! Even the kids loved them.”
“That’s just because of the ice cream. And Benjamin didn’t
even eat his.”
“You know Benjamin. He doesn’t eat half of what I fix for
“I know, but still,” I said sadly.
She threw her arms around me. “Do you have any idea what a
hero you are in my eyes for what you did for me for Mother’s Day?”
“Really? Thanks. You know what? Now more than ever I realize
how much work you do for us every day.”
So, all in all, it was a good thing. We’ve been getting
along real well since then.
One other thing—for my birthday, Heather got me a
crepe pan. You know what? I can hardly wait for next Mother’s Day!
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