You know the Lean Cuisine commercial where the (obviously single) women are discussing what they had for dinner the night before and the conversation goes something like this?
“I had 62 pistachios and some almond paste.”
“Well I ate 6 Hostess cupcakes and some Havarti cheese.”
“A half a chicken and some ice cream.”
And then the 4th woman has to go and rain on everyone’s parade by saying, “I had grilled salmon on a bed of rice pilaf, and steamed French vegetables on the side. It was a Lean Cuisine Fancy Pants Meal.”
Well, I’m not like Miss Fancy Pants. I’m like her 3 friends – but only when I’m single. In my previous married life, it seems like I spent an inordinate time thinking about meals, specifically about the dinner meal. My last ex was a lean man who liked to eat and I’d wake up in the morning thinking about what to prepare for dinner that night. My shopping list was long and detailed and in a constant state of editing. There always had to be food in the house, and I’m talking prepared food here – like roast, or a casserole, or some other kind of dish that contained a substantial amount of protein – you know what I mean. For 15 years, I thought about his stomach and what I was going to put in it.Sometimes I fantasized about the rat poison I would have LIKED to have put in his stomach.After we split up, one of my very first thoughts regarding single life was “I’m Free! No more obsessive meal planning!” If I wanted to skip dinner, I skipped dinner. If I wanted to eat crackers and peanut butter for dinner, that’s what I ate. My shopping list went from a massive tome down to 10 items which were kept in constant rotation. And then things changed.Ken moved in with me last summer, which seems to have reactivated my domestic gene – the one that had gone blissfully dormant for 6 years. Once again I found myself thinking about dinner when I woke up in the morning. The shopping list got longer. I started cooking actual meals again. And I began to remember just how much work it all was.
Now don’t get me wrong. Ken is nothing like my ex-husband. In fact, I sometimes call him the Anti-Ex. If anything, he’s every woman’s dream mate – kind, considerate, self-sufficient, helpful, funny, outgoing, trustworthy. And he’s the kind of guy who’s perfectly capable of putting together a meal for us. No, the problem isn’t Ken. The problem is me. The problem is that I put all the responsibility on myself. The problem is that when I just want to eat some crackers and a handful of grapes for dinner, I don’t do it. I fix a meal instead. Maybe it’s the appreciation factor. Guys love a home-cooked meal and I love to hear how much they love it. It makes me feel like I’ve, once again, fulfilled my proper role as a nurturing female.
The other night, I really, really didn’t want to think about food preparation. I just wanted to do what I usually did when I was single – graze from the pantry. However, instead of hauling my ass down to the kitchen to stare at ingredients for a pasta dish I thought I could muster up the energy to cook, I did something daring. I told Ken “Honey, I just don’t think I can do it tonight. I can’t cook. Really.” And instead of sulking, or getting disgusted like my ex-husband would have done, Ken, the Anti-Ex, said “No problem. Would you like for me to cook instead?”
Wow. Just like that.
We ended up fixing up something simple for ourselves – he had soup and beets (ughh). I warmed up some canned black beans and a bag of pre-cooked rice for myself. It was great. Now I’ve found that it’s actually nice cooking for a man who has absolutely no preconceived notion of me as his live-in cook. Because I can take the night off if I need to. And the next night if I want.
Now THAT’S a soul mate.