I loudly slapped closed the cover on my laptop, startling my housemate working in the recliner next to me.
Jerked out of whatever she was working on at the moment, she snapped, “What was THAT?”
I said, “There was some kinda bug messing around on my screen. Wanna see it now?”
“NO. And people ask me why I spend so much time at the office.”
“Tell them you think your husband’s cheese is sliding off his cracker. Now I gotta get this bug sludge off my screen before it turns to asphalt.”
“I’m going to the office,” she sighed.
“What are you going to tell them when they ask why you’re there again?”
“I might mention your cheesy sludge cracker or something like that. Speaking of sludge, what’s for dinner?”
This conversation ended on a very important point. Before I married this woman, I suffered the obligatory visit to her family. Her brother was eager to pave the way for me and he offered this advice: “When she gets hungry, FEED HER!” He even drew for me a cartoon showing what might happen when she gets “hangry.” It ain’t pretty and I have tried to heed the advice for the decades since. Thus, the question of what’s for dinner was, for us both, an important one to consider.
Since my retirement, the bulk of household chores, including meal prep, has fallen to me. That’s fair, since my wife still works a jillion hours a week and brings home the bacon, which I can then cook. (Truth be told, bacon is my favorite food group.) If there is a shortcoming in this arrangement, it is my failure to plan the meals. I’m not good at it and, with time on the job, I don’t seem to have improved. It isn’t until I’m asked, “What’s for dinner?” that I give any thought to it at all.
While my better half goes from meal to meal, I go from one thing I’d rather be doing to another thing I’d rather be doing. I find hunger to be an annoying distraction and I’ll ignore it until I get asked what my plan for dinner is. The truthful answer — I don’t have a plan — is never well received and causes me to do exactly that which I didn’t want to do: stop what I’d rather be doing and do something else.
I’m not a “foodie.” I don’t appreciate the finer points or the expense of dining at restaurants. Perhaps because I was raised with just enough sustenance to keep me alive, I adopted a detached relationship with hunger. My mother, a strong, wonderful woman, was by all accounts an uninspired and woefully inept cook. My father’s liberal use of butter and ketchup on everything is well known.
Mom’s recipes were inexact and mostly random in instruction, with the name of the dish known only after she finished burning it. For example, if it jiggled, she had made chili. If it didn’t, it was meatloaf. In her defense, by her cooking she ensured that no one in her household would be troubled by obesity. It was only after I left home that my waist expanded to size 30. Heck, I gained weight in boot camp.
Friday evenings are my “no cooking” times and I look forward to not spending them in the kitchen doing dishes. We frequent local restaurants and have traveled all the way to Brunswick on some Fridays to eat at a fancy place like Applebee’s or Five Guys. Sometimes when we feel adventurous, we’ll visit the well-known Chinese buffet joint in town. For 16 bucks you can serve yourself as much or as little as you want. At these places, the deal-maker for me is that I don’t have to plan anything, serve anything, bus anything or clean up anything. Plus, if a dish is not to someone’s liking, it ain’t my fault. A house husband can’t go wrong there.
Right now, the boss is at the office and I’m doing something I look forward to doing — putting words on a laptop. When I close this, I’ll spend some time practicing songs for this weekend, walk my all-time favorite mutt, do a quick favor for a friend, get the mail and maybe get in a nap if that nice certified pharmacist robolady doesn’t call to review my medications again. By that time, the boss might be home.
I’m pretty sure she’ll want to know what’s for dinner.
Beats me. Does it jiggle?
Butch Lawson is an observer of life. He lives on Bailey Island.