WRITTEN BY: Janet Macleod
In captivity, as I am now, I have to beat my boyfriend off with a stick. Let me point out that my boyfriend is no ‘boy’ and I am long past being a girl. We’ve been together for 25 years and have chosen pets over children. As I see it, we’re still dating. We live together but maintain a rather spontaneous (selfish) existence; evening yoga, wine for dinner, and many last minute vacations. I’m not a good planner, nor has it ever been an issue (for me). My theory is that our happy-go-lucky existence has kept us fun and youthful.
So the essential meal planning we’re doing has been a chore. My partner, who I’ll call Jim (because that’s his name), sat me down with a pen and paper to make up our weekly grocery order. I had no interest in thinking about what I was having for dinner three nights from now, and even less interest in having to make it. But after a few rounds of ‘I don’t care!’ and ‘how the f*ck can I predict when I’ll want fish?!’ – I settled down and got organized.
‘Should I thaw the chicken?’ I said to Jim last night. Slowly, a sly smile started to emerge. And when I told him that I’d found a recipe for crispy thighs, a lecherous grin spread across his face. ‘Are you saying what I think you’re saying? ‘ he asked, gazing at me longingly. I confess that I was planning a meal that may also include roasted brussel sprouts. ‘A side of sprouts!’ he exclaimed, ‘Enough of the sexy talk!’ After that I didn’t even bother to tell him about that fingerling potatoes, just in case he whipped off his pants.
Meal planning does not come naturally to me. In fact, it’s a bullet I’ve managed to dodge my entire life. But in these times, when groceries are delivered weekly, it’s become a need. So just like the person I never thought I’d be – I freeze my meat in Ziploc bags and eat asparagus that are less than perfect. Where once our fridge once had mostly wine and olive tapenade, it is now bursting with Tupperware containers, black bananas, and something that looks like cheese. Hmph. Is there anything more un-fun than this?
Jim however, is in heaven. He opens the freezer door and looks over the mound of packages that he’s lovingly stacked like a game of jenga. Gently he lets his finger drift across the frosty box of turkey burgers, and bats his eyelashes at the frozen buns. Slowly he unbuttons the top of the plaid shirt he’s been wearing since family day, and whispers in my ear, ‘Honey, why don’t we have shrimp next Thursday.’
While I am outside my comfort zone, Jim has nestled completely into his. Who knew that one of us (not me) would be so excited by a routine? With a repertoire of two dishes, Jim has kindly left the cooking to me. So each night around happy hour, while my beloved stirs his manhattan, I head to the kitchen to make a meal. And I don’t really mind, to be honest. Cooking is a pleasant distraction and it’s fun to be the woman of Jim’s dreams.
But where do we go from here? Sure, I’m a domestic goddess, but it’s only pretend. One day, God willing, I’ll return to work, and maybe even spend an evening with friends. My tiara will come off and the fridge will be empty. At the risk of preventing a massive disappointment – at what point do I plan to tell my boyfriend that one day, my super sexy reign in the kitchen will be over?
The answer? Maybe never, and definitely not today. Today I will allow myself the possibility (however unlikely) that my new normal may include an apron, because nobody knows what the future will bring. So as I slip into something comfortable to prepare meal number 57, and count my many blessings, the tiara remains firmly on my head.