The Hapless Househusband. What's For Dinner Tonight...
One look at me, and you’d say, “That man loves to eat,” and you would not be wrong. What may not be so obvious is that I also like to cook. This makes my wife happy as evidenced in our current role-reversal scenario. She comes home from work tired and drained, working with middle school kids will do that, and I have dinner ready. I check out the opening salvo and administer tea or wine, as appropriate.
The only problem is the non-cooking parts of cooking. Shopping is OK, most of the time, but the preparation and clean up is starting to bug me. I watch Gordon Ramsey and wonder what on Earth he has to swear about? He doesn’t have to do that part; some tearful, fearful minion is doing it for him. I have never eaten anything he has cooked, but I hope he is more creative with his dishes than he is with his swear word lexicon.
Step one is wandering around the supermarket. A cornucopia of opportunities lie ahead of me, and the planning starts. Unfortunately, people from my previous existence, asking if I’m enjoying my “retirement,” interrupt my reverie. As I smile and make nice, my primary concern is holding back the “It was not my (insert Gordon Ramsey type word here…), decision!”
I ask them about their children, and then I hand them my card, which earns the inevitable, “Oh, you’re a writer, That’s nice.” Which, on the surface sounds okay, but is spoiled slightly by the nose wrinkling that ordinarily happens when you step in dog doo.
Wow, not over it, I guess.
Anyway, I wend my way through the aisles with a tad more care than I used to, with an eye towards bargains, and something that might brighten up today’s repast. By the end of the serpentine walk with the wobbly cart, the idea for today’s meal finally comes to me, and I backtrack to find the key ingredient I missed on the initial pass through.
I realize that I would be utterly useless as a vegetarian, unless they changed the rules on the meat-eating thing, that is. I still base every meal around a dead animal, unlike my sister who has held to her beliefs since childhood. Vegetables are the supporting act in my meals, I just don’t think they’re good enough to headline.
I am also a great fan of the cooks, such as Julia Child and the Two Fat Ladies, whose blasé dismissal of the perils of cholesterol and artery clogging, is best summed up in the phrase, “If you think you need to cut back on the butter in the recipe, just add more cream.” OK, Julia and one of the fat ladies are no longer with us, but did you ever see them depressed? Heck no.
I do show restraint in that department though, as my primary form of exercising is typing and laughing at myself. Total calories burned - three, maybe four. A day.
She-who-is-adored is careful with what she eats, which is why she still nimbly defies the aging process. In fact, she actually craves salad. (It’s one of so few faults I simply have to forgive her for it.) I add salad to the plate for its decorative qualities and to satisfy She’s cravings.
The problem with kitchen prep is the mathematics. You think, I’ve washed this knife, like, ten times today, (I do sometimes think in Valley Girl. Too much alone time, I suspect), and then wonder how many times I will wash it in the future. Images akin to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice fill my head, with me dealing with multiplying cutlery, crockery and those darned pans, while Mickey just laughs.
I suspect that for many women, the prospect of feeding a husband and offspring for, what looks suspiciously like, eternity, is a considerable factor in leaving the guy at the altar.
Most guys have, at some point in their existence, lived the life of a minimalist, usually after washing up a year’s worth of stuff. The idea is that you use one knife, one fork, one plate, and a frying pan. You wash them (or lick them really, really well) after each use. Thus no mounds, and you are the King of the Kitchen. A sad byproduct of this is that no one wants to share any part of this life, so you end up very, very alone.
Also, this does not work when you want to make real food, plus it would gross She out completely. So each meal creates washing up. Which brings me to cleaning up. How come something that was so good hot, can be so gross cold? And why do they even bother making glue or cement? Try getting dried out mashed potatoes out of any container. Non-stick? I want my money back. That butter that glistened so tantalizingly, yes, it is the very same grey slick taunting you and Dawn right now.
I could cheat, and do occasionally, creating an entire meal from microwavable-in-the-container, offerings. But I feel like I cheated. Throwing the containers away afterwards, while simple, also pricks my environmentalist conscience. So, even with cheating twice a week, that’s five times fifty-two, times however many days I’ve been granted on this mortal coil… Not exactly national debt type numbers, but still enough to cast a pall.
I make the problem worse for myself by adding self-imposed rules, like trying not to repeat a meal too often. I’m not exactly a foodie, but I do like good food, and my success-to-failure rate is fairly impressive, even if I say so myself. But this idea, (which is entirely in my own head, I admit), that I should always be looking for something new, is a problem. I love being creative, but the pressure to come up with something interesting, tasty, and nutritious every day is a real challenge.
In fact, even though it’s me asking myself, I’m beginning to seriously dislike the question,
What’s for dinner tonight?
Dear Hub Reader
If you enjoy this hub, please check out my book,
Homo Domesticus; A Life Interrupted By Housework,
A collection of my best writings woven into a narrative on a very strange year in my life.
Available directly from: