Kiss the Cook

"Now once your sauce is brought to a boil, you want to start making the dressing, and just keep a really close eye on your sauce, and when it starts to bubble, just stir it, and continue making your dressing while keeping your eye on your sauce," A middle aged female voice echoed from the television. Alf sat in between the couch and coffee table, watching his new cooking show with Madam Francie.

"Alf, what are ya watching?" Willy said, as he came into the living room, adjusting his navy blue blazer, with a slight smile on his face.

"I don't know the name of it. I just started watching it five minutes ago. I must of missed the opening credits when I got up to take my potato chip break. It seems to be some kind of show where this woman gets in front of the camera and cooks," Alf glances back at Willy, "What a cooke, huh?"

"Alf," Willy walked forward and sat down on the couch, "It's a cooking show. People watch and learn how to cook the things that she cooks."

"Oh," Alf grasped what Willy had just said, but still struggled to understand," Well, where are the other characters? Ya know, the actors?"

"Alf," Willy placed his hand on Alf's shoulder, "There are no other characters. It's like a class."

"Oh," Alf said, and Willy thought he had gotten the point across to Alf, "Well, where is the chalkboard? And, and the other people, the students? Like in Bryan's school."

"Never mind," Willy threw his hands up in the air, and excused himself to the front door, "Kate will be home before I will. You know the rules. I'll see you later."

"Adios," Alf waved to Willy as he left, shutting the door behind him.

Throughout the day, Alf watched the same channel for four hours and realized that all the shows were similar to Madam Francie. What a hoot! A whole channel dedicated to food. If Alf's friends from Melmac were there, they would've been in heaven. First, a show was dedicated completely to seafood, such as crab cakes, lobster and shrimp with pasta, and many other yummy things. The second show was strictly Italian, demonstrating several things such as how to spice up your lasagna, and how to make the perfect garlic bread. He watched them and took notes from a notebook he found in the garage.

Kate had a long day at work, and the only break she got was the drive home. She came through the door, and went straight into the bedroom and changed into some more comfortable clothes, then off to the kitchen it was to make dinner. There was no time to take a rest if she wanted to have dinner ready by the time everyone got home.

"Ohhhhhhhh Kate?" Kate heard Alf's voice, coming from the living room.

"yeeeeEEEESSSS?" Kate answered back.

Alf appeared at the window that peered into the kitchen from the dining room.

"I've been thinking," Alf said, lying his notebook down beside him, "You work way to hard Kate."

"I'm glad you've noticed," Kate said, throwing a handful of chopped carrots into a bowl of green lettuce.

"So, I've decided to help you out for a while around the house," Alf offered.

"By how? Cleaning your own hair up from the bathtub?" Kate snapped.

"Well, not quite. I don't know how. But I was thinking. If you didn't have to cook as soon as you got home, and you had some time on your hands to relax, what would you do?" Alf asked.

Kate paused from cutting up some more vegetables. "Well okay Alf, if you really want to know-"

"Oh I do, I do," Alf said.

"Well, I guess I would like to just prop my feet up and watch a little bit of television, or take a hot bubble bath, or maybe even do some gardening." Kate answered, and continued making her salad.

"Well, what if I told you, that I would cook dinner for you for a week?" Alf asked, "Just to give you some time to yourself. Each afternoon for a week you can do whatever you want. Not what Willy wants you to do when you get home, not what Barbra Walters says you should do..what you want to do."

"Oh Alf. That sounds sweet, but I.I don't think so," Kate thought about it for a moment.

"Oh please, please, please. I'll even wash the dishes and clean up after all of us. Please Kate?" Alf begged.

"Well no offense, but remember what happened last time you tried to cook? You blew up the kitchen," Kate reminded him.

"Oh Kate, Katie, Kate-a-nine tales," Alf sucked up, "That was what? Seven years ago? You have to give me another chance."

"Give him another chance to do what?" Willy said, coming in through the back door.

"He says he wants to give me a break every afternoon for a week. He wants to cook dinner." Kate explained.

"Oh Alf, I dunno," Willy said walking over to the window.

"Oh come on Willy. It'll give Kate a break in the afternoon. Please just give me a chance, please?" Alf grabbed Willy's jacket, tugging and begging.

"Well," Willy managed to free himself from Alf's grasp, and made his way over to Kate, "Well Kate, it might help you out. I mean, you've been awfully exhausted since you've been working. It might be good for you."

"It does sound nice," Kate reconsidered, "Okay Alf. You have a week. But, you can't cook without supervision, you understand?"

"Great!" Alf was excited and hopped down from the window, taking his notebook with him, and entering through the swinging door of the kitchen, "Now, all you have to do is go to the grocery store to get a few items."

Alf handed the list that was two pages long to Willy. All of these items were desperately needed to make the meals as best as they could be for the next five nights.

"Alf, this list is two pages long," Willy glanced over it.

"What did you expect? You want to be eating chopped liver for the next week? Geez. You try and do something nice for people, and what'd they do?" Alf left the room.

"I'll go to the grocery store right away,' Willy said, giving the chopped liver a quick thought, which turned his stomach.

Alf and Bryan brought plates and dishes into the kitchen for Kate to rinse and wash.

"So, where's Willy? Shouldn't he be back by now? He missed dinner," Alf asked.

"Mom, what'd you want me to do with Dad's plate?" Bryan asked, bringing it in.

"Just put it in the oven to stay warm honey. He should be back soon." Kate said, rinsing off a dish.

The back door opened and shut. Willy came in carrying four paper bags of groceries and he sat them down on the kitchen table.

"Gee Willy. What took ya so long?" Alf asked, "You missed dinner."

"I was out getting your groceries," Willy threw up his hands.

Alf sat down at the kitchen table and started inspecting the food that Willy brought in.

"Angel hair pasta," Alf said, placing the box to the side, "Meatballs," he said, also placing them to the side, then he pulled out a can of tuna fish and looked it over and threw a fit. "What are you, nuts? This recipe specifically calls for Starkist Tuna, not the generic brand!"

"Oh Alf, it doesn't matter. It's all the same thing. They only put labels on certain things to milk you for your money," Bryan explained.

"How'd you know?" Alf asked, tossing the tuna to the side.

"I learned it from Dad a long time ago," Bryan said, biting into an apple and leaving the room.

"What kind of morals do you teach your children Willy? No wonder they turned out the way they did." Alf shook his head back and forth.

"Honey did you get the mail today?" Kate asked.

"Yeah it's on the table beside the front door," Willy said, grabbing the plate of food from the oven.

The week went by and Alf's last night too cook dinner had arrived. He brought in the last two plates, sitting them down in front of Willy and Kate.

"Alf, this looks great," Willy was astonished.

"It tastes great too,' Kate said, taking a bite.

"I have to hand it to you Alf, you're a wonderful cook," Willy complimented taking his first bite.

"Why, thank you sir William," Alf said, excusing himself back into the kitchen.

"Well, Alf, aren't you going to eat in here with us?" Bryan asked.

"Are you kidding? I've got a cake getting ready to come out of the oven and other desert surprises to prepare. I'll just eat in here," Alf said, going through the swinging door into the kitchen.

The week ended and along came the next, and things melted back into their ordinary ways. Alf watched television and ate all day, Kate came home and cooked dinner, and after dinner Willy read the paper and sorted through the mail, while Bryan did his homework in the privacy of his own room.

Another Friday had come and the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day out. Willy drove home with the windows down, letting a slight breeze flow through the body of the car. What a wonderful day. What could go wrong? The day at work had been his most relaxing, easy going days he had ever had, and the afternoon traffic wasn't that bad either. He glided into the driveway and parked the car, collected his things from the backseat and ventured into his home. As he shut the door behind him, everything was quiet in the living room and Alf wasn't in his regular afternoon spot, which was right in front of the television watching re-runs of "I Dream of Jeanie". Willy loosened the necktie around his neck and set his briefcase down on the table beside the door along with today's mail.

"Alf?" Willy called as he stood in the living room. There was no answer. "Alf, where are you?"

A few seconds went by and Alf shouted from the kitchen, "I'm in here Willy."

"Alf what are you doi-," Willy was interrupted by Alf shooing him to be quiet, "I'm on the phone." Alf mouthed.

"Pardon me," Willy said looking around the kitchen. He realized that every counter top had paper bags full of groceries sitting on top of them.

"Uh, uh yes ma'am. This is Gordon Shumway..," Alf said, talking to the other person at the end of the phone line, "Yes. I was calling in regards to your ad in the newspaper about needing..Yes. Okay. Sounds great. Yes I can have that done," Alf jotted things down on a notepad, "Uh huh, uh huh. Okay, thank you. Call if you have any questions and I'll uh, I'll do the same. Okay thanks. Bye." Alf handed the phone to Willy for him to hang up.

"Who was that?" Alf asked.

"Are you finished with your phone call now?" Kate came through the door.

"Yes, that I am," Alf said, sitting his pen down.

"Okay," Kate smiled, and started to exit the kitchen.

"Excuse us for a moment Alf," Willy followed Kate out.

"Kate, who was he talking to?" Willy asked, keeping his voice low.

"Oh honey, I don't know. Probably talking to someone from a magazine, complaining to them, telling them how poor the last short story was," Kate walked across the living room and to the phone.

"Now Kate, wait a minute," Willy franticly followed, "He said something about calling if they had any questions. And a newspaper ad."

Kate and Willy looked at each other and calmly made their way back into the kitchen to find Alf putting the groceries away.

Kate rubbed the back of her neck, "Alf," She said taking a seat at the kitchen table along with Willy.

"Yes?" Alf said, continuing to put away his groceries.

"Who was that on the phone?" Kate asked.

"Oh. Uh, well," Alf looked at Kate and Willy, and got down from his little wooden stool and took a seat with them at the table. "I'd like to uh, talk to you about that. I have a job now. Just a small one."

"What?" Willy's voice shrilled.

"Well, not a permanent one. Just one for this Saturday, which is tomorrow. So I took the liberty of ordering you guys a pizza, seeing as though I'm going to be up all night in the kitchen, cooking and preparing for a brunch tomorrow," Alf explained.

"Well Alf, what kind of brunch?" Kate glanced over at Willy.

"I don't know. I simply read the ad in the newspaper about them needed caterers, and so I called. So all I have to do is make the food, and let them come get it, and I'll be paid." Alf scooted the newspaper over to them.

They read it silently, "Alf," Willy took of his glasses and rubbed his eyes, "Do you know what you've done?"

"Yeah. I've done something useful with my time and I'll have money to buy worthless junk off that shopping network," Alf said.

"Alf, how did you pay for these groceries?" Willy asked.

"Oh, they deliver. I just put it on your credit card. It was only $280.00. I'll be making $700.00 tomorrow. I'll pay you back, keep your shorts on," Alf sighed.

"Alf, a caterer. Did this person mention anything about having your crew there at a certain time?" Kate asked.

"Oh," Alf said, "A crew? What crew?"

"When you cater, you normally have to have people who work for you to go out and serve the food. They don't just pick it up and serve it themselves." Kate explained.

"Oh," Alf said, realizing what Kate was trying to say.

"I'll call and cancel," Kate said, getting up from the table.

"Oh! But wait! You can't! Please don't," Alf looked sad, "Please don't cancel on them. They're nice people."

"Hey guys," Lynn entered the kitchen.

"Hey Lynn, how would you like to make some extra money?" Alf winked.

"Oh no you don't," Kate scolded.

"Oh come on Kate. You too. And you Willy. You all could make $100.00, no problem. And it's only from noon to one, just an hour. Come on, a hundred bucks for one hour?" Alf convinced.

"I'm in," Lynn was drawn in by the thought of that one hundred dollars, just for working a short amount of time, "What'd I have to do?"

"Okay, first-" Alf was interrupted.

"Okay, alright. Wait a minute," Kate said, "You want us to work for you, and give our day of relaxation up?"

"What'd you do? Nothing, you lounge around in your pajamas, eating fattening cereal and watch cartoons all day," Alf said.

"Well you do that everyday," Willy pointed out.

"Yes, but that's because my choices of what to do are limited. Yours however, aren't. You guys can leave and come back anytime you want too. You'll never know what it's like to have to stay behind doors and run and hide every time someone comes to visit. So guys, please. I'm asking this one favor, and I'm even offering to split money with you. Just help me, and I'll be more careful when I decide to book or do something." Alf's speech was honest and from the heart.

Willy glanced at Kate, as she glanced back.

"Come on Kate, what'll you say? Let's just help him out." Willy asked.

"Well...I could use that extra one hundred dollars. I wanted that new blender on the shopping network." Kate started to give in, "Well, okay let's do it."

"Yeah!!" Alf cheered, "Okay, first we need to get you guys in matching uniforms. How about white button up shirts with black pants? Oh and Lynn, go tell Bryan not to make plans. He's making some money tomorrow."

"Okay," Lynn got up.

"Oh and tell him he can get those new limited edition baseball cards he wanted. That should talk him into it." Alf informed.

Lynn smiled and left the room.

Alf spent all night cooking and preparing the main course, appetizers, and desert for two hundred people. The next day he was exhausted and he explained to Willy what went out first, and how you served from the left and take from the right. That was just a little something he picked up from the same channel. So the Tanners were off to the brunch, with the food carefully packed in the car and with matching uniforms on.

They helped out Alf once again, but were exhausted as well. When they got home, they found a note from Alf, and he told them he had went on to bed, and thanks for all of their help and to show his appreciation, he left a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies and some milk on the kitchen table. Willy left Alf's money on the piece of paper and all was well.