“A woman happily in love – she burns the soufflé! A woman unhappily in love? She forgets to turn on the oven.” (Sabrina, 1954)
I have a theory: married people sometimes eat cereal for dinner too. I have yet to be able to prove this theory.
Growing up, my mother always had a hot meal on the table . It wasn’t until my youngest brother and sister were in high school that my family even stopped having regular everyone-sit-around-the-table-talk-about-your-day family dinner time. I mean, even if it was Hamburger Helper, it was hot and on the table at 6 o’clock .
Before the era of The Ex, I cooked really great meals for myself (and for my singleton friends) nearly every night. From homemade pasta to a balsamic reduction over soft white cheese or kalamata olive spread, “made from scratch” was practically my middle name. Don’t get the wrong idea, there were plenty of nights of Thai takeout and pizza boxes that could pile up and substitute for furniture in my bachelorette pad (I was 22 after all), but I did enjoy cooking and entertaining.
Then, The Ex came into my life.
Before The Ex was The Ex, he was someone I wanted to impress – I wanted to care for him, cook for him, be his woman. But between working full time and spending hours on the sofa making out with him (yeah, we were like teenagers), more often than not we opted for General Tao’s chicken and a bottle of Pinot (I lived a block away from a Chinese place and a liquor store).
I still cooked – just not as elaborately as before. Unless it was a special occasion, like board game night.
Once The Ex transitioned from My Love to The Ex, my culinary interest plummeted. It probably started because when your heart is broken, everything tastes like stale cardboard – and looks even less appealing. I can’t tell you how many times I opened the door to my refrigerator, took stock of the rotting/molding contents inside, dry heaved, and walked back to the sofa. If I ever got really hungry, I’d eat cereal – right out of the box. It was pathetic.
The sofa-to-fridge-to-sofa routine eventually stopped, but I still haven’t returned to my former “kitchen queen” self. More often than not, I find myself pouring a bowl of cereal or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. Once in awhile, I’ll take this month’s Vegetarian Times
on a spree to Whole Foods to try my hand at some exotic recipes, but I really can’t remember the last time I cooked up something worthy of putting on a plate instead of eating right off the stove-top.
I wonder if my next big love affair will inspire me to employ my culinary wiles again, or if Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches will stay my M.O.
I think I’ll get it back. If, for no other reason, bringing store bought baked goods to a Pot Luck makes me feel like a failure as a woman. I am the daughter of a modern June Cleaver, after all.
Look at her, you can almost hear her judging me for not knowing how to bake a potato.
Until then, I continue in my familiar routine of fabulous single-hood. Does this sound familiar:
Scene: Small town, Anywhere, USA – 7 p.m.
A young woman walks into Blockbuster and rents Season 6, Disc 2 of Grey’s Anatomy for one night. The guy asks her “really, just one night?” It’s a Monday night. She tells him, “Yes, it’s really only 4 episodes.”
She drives home convinced there is a serial killer hiding in the back seat of her car. She can’t stop looking in her rear-view mirror. She blasts the Indigo Girls and almost runs a stop sign.
She walks into her cold, silent, dark house, flips on every single light and locks all the doors.
Next, she dons sweatpants, an over-sized hoodie and slippers. She throws her hair up in a pony tail and before the thrill of the opening credits and the first view of McDreamy, she pours herself a bowl of cereal, adds fresh berries and a chopped up banana. If she’s feeling a little luxurious, she may apply a cakey mud mask that promises to shrink her pores.
She leaves the dirty cereal bowl in the sink.
Even after spending an hour at both the gym and the dog park, she won’t be showering until tomorrow. The dog doesn’t seem to mind.
The contents of her pantry are limited to: cereal, rice cakes, coffee, roasted almonds, and Pam.
Before she goes to bed, she’ll double check all the locks. Maybe triple check them if she hears a noise. She’ll sleep with the phone on her pillow and a can of aerosol hairspray on the nightstand….just in case. She knows that she’ll make the front page of the paper if she becomes the girl who defended herself against an intruder with AquaNet.