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The Full Suburban: Words take on new meaning during quarantine

UPDATED: Fri., April 3, 2020

Now this is a green bean dish: green bean and radicchio salad with walnuts. (Tom McCorkle / For The Washington Post)
Now this is a green bean dish: green bean and radicchio salad with walnuts. (Tom McCorkle / For The Washington Post)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

Last Sunday, I got mad at my husband because he suggested we open a can of green beans to eat with our dinner.

Flare-ups like that have had a tendency of happening since our family has been in quarantine together. We’ll be going along just fine, everything peachy keen, and then, for one reason or another, I’ll just lose it, as if all my motherly and wifely patience has simply dried up in an instant.

Like the time last week when we were all enjoying pancakes together for breakfast and one of my boys sidled up to me and started making annoying noises right in my face – mooing sounds or something of that ilk – and I suddenly couldn’t take it for one more second. I abruptly stood up and walked out of the kitchen and into my bedroom, where I locked the door, laid on the bed and stared at the ceiling for a good five minutes. It happens.

Logan’s green bean suggestion Sunday coincided perfectly with exhaustion, hunger and overall weird quarantine vibes to rub me juuuuuust the wrong way. I was putting the finishing touches on our masterpiece of a meal (roast beef with gravy, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, tossed salad and brownies for dessert, since you asked) when he made his misguided recommendation.

“Ooooh, do we still have those green beans?” he asked, referring to one of the many cans of vegetables we stocked up on when this whole COVID-19 business revealed itself to be a cause for concern. “How about we heat up one of those to eat with our dinner?”

Now listen: Pandemic or not, I believe canned green beans to be one of the most disgusting foods to be conceived by man. The fact that my husband thinks they are delicious has been a thorn in my side for years, similar to the way I can’t understand his love for superhero movies, fantasy books and water skiing at 6 in the morning throughout the summer. So already, the green bean suggestion had the score stacked at Annoyed Wife 1, Clueless Husband 0.

It certainly didn’t help that my Wife Translate feature (similar to Google Translate, but with an emotional roller coaster thrown in just for fun) interpreted his suggestion to mean, “I know you just spent hours in the kitchen putting together this homemade meal, carefully considering each element so it would both delight and satisfy the seven people who depend on you for their nourishment. But do you know what would really take this feast to the next level? One of those cans of limp and flavorless green beans that I won’t admit are disgusting but will act like are the most delicious part of the entire spread. Don’t I have the best ideas? I’m so glad I was here to save your dinner from mediocrity.”

As mentioned previously, his idea didn’t go over well, and I explosively told him how his message had been received through the Wife Translator. His eyes widened, and he began backpedaling. While slowly backing away, he explained that all he had meant by his suggestion was, “Hey, I really like green beans. Could I heat some up to eat with dinner?” I mean, when you put it that way, I guess it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. But to Quarantine Julia, it was a Big Deal.

This dear man’s birthday is coming up in a couple of days. It will probably go down in the record books as one of the lamest birthdays with no friends coming over, no going out to eat (although you’d better believe we’ll be ordering takeout) and possibly no gifts because REI is closed, and I forgot to order something off Amazon.

But maybe the best gift I could give him is to update my Wife Translator. I hear there’s a version specifically for control freaks, with a giving-the-benefit-of-the-doubt feature built in as a safeguard. And if all else fails, I think we have one more can of green beans in the pantry. I hear he loves those.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at

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