Monthly Archives: September 2011

the trouble with dinner

is that it is never simple.  Even on a weeknight.

T-storm and I were talking about making dinner.  During the course of one month, before we lived together and we traveled 45 minutes each way to see one another (and did it nearly every single day), we made a list of meals for the entire month.  We accounted for late work nights, out of town weekends, the likes.  We went shopping together, and bought food for our planned out month of meals.  And it worked splendidly.

Now, after a year of living together, that ain’t happenin’.  We’ve tried again, and we just haven’t gotten it right.

So we go to make dinner tonight.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, right?  Just sautee/lightly pan grill/whatever some chicken breasts that are defrosting, pop some rice in the rice cooker.

But then I go to do it.  And it doesn’t feel right.  I’ve got to add in vegetables, and we have all of these spices – we should really use them.  We should make something that tastes delicious, rather than simply sustaining our need for food, right?

Because if you have the capacity to cook something really good, you want to, yes?  Even if it will eventually translate to dishes & work and most of the productive part of the evening shot.

And somewhere else on the interspace, someone will talk about the Food Network show they’re watching, and someone else will post a photo of the dinner they’re eating, and someone else’s foursquare check-in at XYZ restaurant will pop up your phone and you’ll develop dinner envy.

It’s all become very complicated.

Maybe that’s going a little too far, but I know for my group of peers (actually in several different groups of peers of mine), they talk about food constantly.  Almost everyone I know can cook.  Male or female.  It doesn’t matter.  Whether they are self-described freaks or newlyweds who live as though they’re middle-aged, they all cook.  And so do we.  T-storm is very likely a better cook than I am.

Which makes me feel guilty, and motivates me to make really great food for him – not just that desire to get dinner on the table for my future husband.  It’s guilt not out of obligation, but out of a desire to contribute equally.

And so we always drive ourselves crazy having these elaborate weeknight dinners, or planning for such.  Or thinking about what other great food we can make.  Or we eat these elaborate dinners, rich in fats & cheese & potatoes and then we veg out, or worse yet, follow it up with some netflix’d Twilight Zone or Dexter, and then ice cream.  And it puts the fats on our hips.  This is also where it turns from First World Problem to First World Scourge – we both are genetically predisposed to diabetes and neither of us are as skinny as we once were.

Back to dinner tonight.  What starts out as “put some chicken on the stove, rice in the rice cooker,” becomes this (with whole wheat angel hair boiling in a pot on the side):


And because no wine goes wasted in this house, any wine left uncorked for too long (hey man, stuff happens) becomes cooking wine.  Which sometimes gets consumed by unknowing houseguests, anyway.

At least this experiment didn’t use up too many dishes.  And it was tasty, and somewhat healthy.  No cheese allowed.  And we paired it with unsweetened iced tea.

The problem is, that if we don’t have time to use spices & wine & what not, we get lazy and go out to eat, even though we have turkey & veggie burgers in the freezer.  But I ate enough Morningstar burgers & bowls of Easy Mac in college to last me a few lifetimes.  Socioeconomically, we’re damn near being yuppies, and if that’s the case, we can at least eat like them (if not eat them).

We operate under the idea that if you can’t do it exceptionally well, then don’t do it at all.  Which seems not uncommon in our generation, but is not always a very productive way to progress.

More thoughts on this later.


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like your talisman

Advice to straight men: don’t do a woman a favor and then expect that you are owed a flirtation in return.

I think that’s what just happened to me in the grocery store.

Two lessons for the dude behind me here: 1) never underestimate a somewhat slight, pale girl in glasses buying a 12-pack of beer on a Monday evening.

2) kindness is not necessarily flirting. Neither is smiling. I know it seems bizarro, but some people are actually just nice. Some people believe in the niceness of others.

And just because a woman is taken doesn’t mean she stays at home all the time and waits for her husband to go out to buy groceries with her. Oh, for heaven’s sake! Maybe I should just go to the store and buy beer myself! I tire of waiting politely at the dining room table, apron on, for my Knight in Shining Armor to come riding home, briefcase in hand.

As if.*

I am grateful though, for some of our society’s cultural norms.

BEWARE: if you start yelling at a cute girl in a parking lot, you will have to face the WRATH OF THE SAPPHIRE!

I was leaving my summer job this summer (natch) and grabbed lunch at Panera in some strip mall.  Heading outside, I heard some guy yelling “EXCUSE ME!”  The last time I’d heard that sort of cadence of someone yelling as such, I was in another Publix and saw a cart go flying down the deli aisle.  Some dude was about to start some shit with another dude in the cold cuts line.  Eeek!

So the “EXCUSE ME” followed as I walked, and I don’t start shit with anyone (ever, not even last week when I got rear-ended – I hugged the dude as he blubbered apologies) so I kept walking.  He couldn’t possibly be yelling at me.  And then everyone else cleared out, and I still heard “EXCUSE ME!”

It had to be directed at me.  Damnit.

So I turned around, luckily leading with my left side, and then heard, “Oh, I’m sorry, I was going to call for you, but I see you gotta ring.”

You’re damn right I do, fella.  And even if I didn’t, what makes you think that shouting at me in a strip mall parking lot when I’m walking as though I have somewhere to be is going to stop me in my tracks?

I laughed it off and told T-storm later.  He thought it was pretty funny, and said about the ring, “So it’s like your talisman.”  Yes.  It totally is.

But seriously.  I’m not telling guys that they shouldn’t pursue women where they please.  Or maybe I am.  If you’re sitting next to her in a bar and you quietly say hello, then okay.   But if she’s got her arms full of stuff and is swinging her keys in the air, then leave the lady alone – she has to go back to work, or buy some cardstock or do something else.  Or check her stock portfolio.  Or go run a 10k.  Maybe when I was 16 and had no effing clue what I was doing, public displays of being hit on were more appealing.

Now I’m old and (almost) married and I just want to go about my day.  Or I want to buy oh-so-craved milk and cookies at the gas station without the cashier asking me if I’ve got a sweetie. (That happened this summer, too, when T-storm was outside pumping gas.)

This is part of why I love living in a gay neighborhood.  I have taken to wearing way more short shorts and way fewer bras since moving here, mostly because no one gives two shits what I wear.  I don’t do it to be skanky, I do it because that’s what’s lying on the floor and that’s what I have been sitting around my apartment in.  I’m not going to put on a burqua to change the laundry out, or take out the recycling.  My neighbors are sweet as pie to me.  That whole fear of being objectified is so not one little tiny bit an issue in Wilton Manors, and that thrills me to my core.

Let’s settle it – I’m not telling men how to hit on women.  Where to hit on women.  Certain things cross the line, yesBig time.  And barista boy, I guess you’ll never know if the cutie getting the Rooibos latte is single unless you make an inquiry.

But how well does that really work?  I mean, really?  I suppose some women find it endearing, but most women would just rather be left alone while ordering tea.

Opening doors, kind.  Okay.  Minor compliments, i.e. “you look very pretty,” okay (although more likely to come from my neighbors).  Although I am always cordial, almost to a fault, I don’t owe anyone anything for their kindness.

Insisting that I put down my beer ahead of your jug o’ wine in the express lane, and then looking eagerly to initiate more conversation.  You know, that hungry, “I did this for you, now what are you gonna do for me?” look.




*I read way too much Jezebel anyway, and it’s been littered with glorious 90s references lately.  As has everything else I’ve encountered.  Thank you for the indulgence.

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