It’s not completely unlike getting hit with a baseball bat.
Every night as soon as I walk in the door, my daughter asks, “What’s for dinner?”
It’s like she doesn’t realize I’m coming home from a hard day of checking my Facebook, shopping Amazon, gossiping and pretending to work. I just want to unwind for a few minutes by checking my Facebook, shopping Amazon and gossiping — I don’t want to answer hard questions.
Unless you rely on the crutch that is the “dollar menu,” the dinner question is one of the most difficult we are faced with. It ranks right up there with “What is the nature of God and the universe?” “What is our purpose?” and “When will ‘Cobra Kai’ season three debut?”
Just like those questions, the dinner question is nearly unanswerable.
I guess it wouldn’t be if we were like those families in magazines who spend their Saturdays prepping nutritious meals, chopping vegetables and putting together a week’s menu worth of wholesome goodness in the fridge, complete with dated Tupperware lids.
However, there are a few problems with this. First, no one reads those magazines anymore. Second, my Saturdays are for sleeping in and avoiding household chores, not for looking up recipes that include jicama.
Third, none of my Tupperware lids match up with the containers anyway.
However, by failing to be the cover models of Good Housekeeping, we are stuck with that most unruly of nightly questions — what’s for dinner?
Not that my daughter really cares what the answer is. As a teenager, she only eats food out of four food groups — the Chinese takeout group, the gummy worm group, the Spaghettios group and the Taco Bell group. Any meal suggestion not in those groups, and all of the sudden teenagers becomes scarce around the dinner table, which actually makes dinner more appetizing for parents.
“We’re having slow-cooked pork roast, mashed potatoes and gravy,” I say on the rare instance I actually plan for an evening meal.
“Oh, I’m not hungry,” she says. “I’ll just have some ramen.”
I can’t get mad at her, because she inherited her pickiness from me.
I went weeks as a child fasting because my family all liked things like ranch dressing, sour cream and recipes with cream of chicken soup.
Look, I know this may ruin our friendship when I tell you this, but I hate those things. I’d rather eat, and often have, dry salad rather than have ranch. Yes, it tastes like what I dump out of my lawnmower’s bag, but it’s still better to me than ranch.
Growing up I didn’t think of myself as a food bigot, but I may have been one all the same. I had an irrational hatred of Mexican food.
It didn’t help that all my family only ever wanted to eat at Mexican restaurants. Anytime we were traveling, “Where’s the Mexican joint in this town?”
It didn’t matter if we were in Los Angeles (they have some of the best Mexican food in the world), or Vernal (they also have Mexican food, apparently), we had to eat at a place that served refried beans.
That was my hang-up.
Refried beans look and smell just like canned dog food to me.
I was well into adulthood before I realized that you don’t have to have dog food beans on your plate. Once I understood you can simply ask for “tamales, hold the Alpo,” I set my prejudices aside.
However, that doesn’t answer the dinner question that I’ll be asked tonight when I get home.
So I look in the fridge — nothing but ranch dressing and sour cream in there. Then the pantry — just cream of chicken soup and refried beans.
Dollar menu, here we come.
Follow David Anderson on
Twitter at twitter.com/cruizerdave