I never get to eat dinner by myself. Never. I dream about it, I fantasize about it, I plan what I will cook or lay out for myself as if I were some sort of self-serving Geisha: a perfectly ripe pear, three slices of Manchego and a nearly transparent piece of Parma ham. Truffled grits topped with a poached quail egg and a delicate salad of field greens dressed with Olive Oil and an aged Balsamic. A tofu and cashew stir-fry over brown rice with a citrus salad.
Tonight, as it turns out, I am dining alone. Mr. Annie is in Indiana, Sam is eating Kentucky Fried Chicken at Youth Group, and I was supposed to go to a dinner meeting but I have the kind of cough that makes people look at me like I am the TB carrier on the plane, so I am home alone. Had I but known, I would have bought myself something They won’t eat. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it coming, and there is really nothing interesting to cook. (No one was supposed to be here, tonight). There is no Manchego, no quail egg, no tofu.
I’ll figure something out, but my choices (as far as I can tell) are limited to Frosted Mini Wheats, oatmeal, Healthy Choice Garden Vegetable Soup, or eggs and toast. There is also some light cream cheese and a container of chocolate frosting, as well as a Parmesan rind, a withering lemon and a bag of baby carrots. There is always peanut butter in the house, and, oooooh…a jar of marmalade. (What is a “marmal,” anyway?) I could have a peanut butter and marmalade sandwich with a glass of milk and maybe (if I’m feeling dangerous) some baby carrots. It would be kind of like school lunch, only quieter and without that hot lunch smell.
Despite my graphic and extensive fantasies about dinner for one, it’s turning out that all I really want is something quick and simple to eat while I read my book in the quiet house. If someone else were here, and hungry, I could make something good out of the odds and ends available to me, but they aren’t, and I don’t want to. The beauty of dinner alone is that there are no expectations other than my own, and I can just have a new fantasy that involves not cooking. Tonight, it’s probably going to be the crunchiest of generic peanut butter and a delicate swathe of ancient marmalade on rugged slabs of Pepperidge Farm oat bread, with an icy glass of skim milk. Tonight, that’s the stuff dreams are made of.