Tuesday, April 21, 2009
What's For Dinner?
“Food,” I reply in a flat voice.
This is my standard answer to this question. I have not actually answered the question of “What's for dinner?” in over a decade. For some reason, the question itself strikes me as profoundly aggravating, incorporating as it does so many basic assumptions: Thing 1) Mommy is going to make dinner: Thing 2) Mommy knows what she is going to make for dinner; Thing 3) The beginning and end of the questioner's responsibility in making Things 1 and 2 take place is to remind Mommy that dinner is Pending.
I am not the only woman for whom this question enrages. I've met others. They admit it after a few glasses of wine. The sensation is similar to having ants crawl all over your body. “What's for dinner?” is a trick question whose purpose is to goad Mommy and whose underlying objective is to get her off her ass and into the galley.
My counterattack is to be singularly unhelpful. After a thousand times receiving the same precise reply, “Food” you would think those kids would give up. You would think my husband would give up. Unfortunately, he now has a very valid point. If they don't ask me what's for dinner, they won't know what to cook.
Okay, it's not like they are actually committing to cooking. “But I'm just saying,” DrC explains, “if we were going to help, we would have to know what to cook.”
Because provisioning and cooking on a boat is not like the real world. You can't get a craving at the last minute for steak and potatoes and pop over to the grocery to pick them up. Everything on the boat has a purpose and an assigned meal. As project manager and cattle herder extraordinaire, it's my job to figure out what the family is going to eat. The produce needs to be eaten in a certain order as it ripens, the meat has designated dishes, don't eat the cream cheese it's for the dinghy raft up, eat the bollo before they turn to stone... etc etc. Figuring all this out takes a lot of energy, but someone has to do it or we'll get halfway to Cape Corrientes, and we'll run out of bananas, tortillas and rum (not related problems).
So legitimately, if anyone is going to cook anything, they need to ask my permission and gain my cooperation first. I need to answer the question politely and helpfully. I need to elaborate on “food.” But my inner child whines, “I don't wanna!....” I do not want to be helpful. I'm about to sink my teeth into a glass of chilled red and I'd like to sit here and do absolutely nothing, think absolutely nothing for about an hour. Then I want my dinner to magically appear before me like a genie >poofed< from a bottle.
“What's for dinner?” The ants start crawling all down my arms making my teeth itch and my spine twitch. God, I hate that question.