There's one thing all Americans, regardless of race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation or political affiliation can agree on: Christina Hendricks character Joan on Mad Men is the sexiest TV character. Ever!
The other thing Americans agree on is that dinner is the best meal of the day.
Everyone loves dinner. And not just the food. Families love dinner because it's the one time of the day they all sit together and catch up on the day's events. Business people like dinner because over a few drinks, deals get done. And single people love dinner because it's what you ask someone you have romantic feelings for to do as a prelude to having sex.
However -- I know one person who no longer likes dinner. In fact, he hates it. I don't want to tell you his name, but it rhymes with "Bon Lotchkiss." And why does "Bon" hate dinner?
I -- I mean, "Bon" hates dinner because his wife ruined it.
Stop. I know what you're thinking, "here's yet another ungrateful misogynist jerk -- named "Bon" -- making fun of his wife for burning the roast."
First, this is not the 1950s.
Second, if "Bon's wife," had burned the roast, he would be elated. It would mean he were having meat for dinner. Or, at least he would have had meat for dinner, were it not burned.
No. Bon's wife ruined dinner because she no longer eats the same food as him.
Before I explain the specifics of precisely how my wife -- okay, I admit it -- it's MY wife -- ruined dinner, I need to rewind just a bit.
I've been eating food for nearly 50 years. At least three times a day -- and often times more, whether I'm hungry or not. That's 54,750 meals. Trust me. I did the math.
Now, over the course of those 54,750 meals, I have made several observations about food:
- I love food. It tastes good. I especially like pizza. And tacos. And Mexican Coke. When I can get all three at the same meal, I call that a Hat Trick. I have had the Hat Trick nearly 3,000 times.
- If I don't get what I want to eat at any one particular meal, it's okay, I know I'm going to eat again in like three hours. Maybe less. Okay, likely less.
- As good as food can be at many restaurants, I've never had anything nearly as good as the noodle pudding my grandmother made for Passover in 1979.
- If you eat too much food, you will get fat.
- Somewhere around the 49,000 meal, I discovered a here-to-fore unknown superpower. You surely have heard people say it takes like 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you're full, right? Well, during those 20 minutes, people eat a whole bunch of food they don't need to sustain their energy. That's a big contributor to the obesity problem. However, thanks to the careful attention I pay to my body and its signals, I have been able to shave three to five minutes off of that 20-minute time span. Ergo, I eat slightly less. Yes. It's a super power, unfortunately, not the kind that gets you a comic book or the role of an Avenger. Trust me, I tried.
- Thanks to 54,000-plus meals, I am no longer surprised or delighted by food that is deftly prepared or uniquely flavored. Why? Because I've had it before and there's nothing new. In fact, I am 100-percent certain I will never again leave a restaurant and say, "That chicken was incredible! Those flavors were magic." Why? Because there are no new chicken recipes. Chicken is chicken.
- Not every meal has to be magical. In fact, more often than not, I think of most meals as just putting gasoline in my engine. I prefer the high-test -- pizza --- but if it's low-octane grilled chicken salad, that's okay, too.
Okay. Back to my wife.
Twenty years ago, my wife stopped eating chicken after my sister, then in medical school, told her that raw chicken looked a lot like the cadaver she was cutting up in class.
Fifteen years ago, or so, my wife stopped eating meat. Except she would eat meat now and again at a steak restaurant or if I was BBQing a slab of ribs. This both confused and delighted me. Also, it made me sorta mad.
Five years ago, or so, my wife came down with a severe case of celiac disease and was forced to cut gluten from her diet. Only here's the thing. My wife does not have celiac disease and was diagnosed as having a gluten allergy by a longtime friend and hypochondriac who says she knows about medical stuff because she watches a lot of Grey's Anatomy. Absent the advice of an actual medical professional, my wife no longer eats bread, pasta or cake.
Six months ago or so, my wife made the most radical change to her diet, yet. What else could she possibly give up, you're wondering to yourself, right? Is there a food group I'm unfamiliar with? Turns out there is. My wife no longer eats dairy, sugar or carbohydrates. No ice-cream, no potatoes, no pizza, no tacos, no steak, no ribs. No Hat Trick.
So, what does she eat?
Okay. Cardboard and vegetables. And that's it. And remember, not all vegetables, either. No corn (too many carbs), no potatoes (ditto), and no rice.
And this is how my wife ruined dinner. We no longer eat the same foods. I like to cook. And I'm pretty good at it, too. However, to make dinner now means I have to make two things: one thing I like, and one thing I don't. And I don't want to make two things. I want to make one thing. I want to look over at her as we both take a bite of this thing I've made us and I want to ask her: "What do you think?" And I want her to say: "It's the best steak/pizza/taco/pork chop/lasagna/bbq rib/brisket I've ever eaten. Thanks for making it."
That's not going to happen ever again.
And that's why dinner's ruined.
All that being said, if I told this story from my wife's perspective, it would begin with a decision she made to change her life about six or seven months ago. To cut out all the foods she thought that weren't healthy. To exercise three or four times a week. To run. To take some kind of stretching class I don't know anything about. She's lost nearly 35 pounds, has more energy and looks terrific.
I want to be proud of her... except there's this thing I just can't get over about dinner being ruined.