How to Cook for One

You are hungry. So your stomach says. But the thought of food makes you nauseous. Think the world is unfair to make you eat when there is nothing delicious in sight. Why can’t you only be hungry when there is chocolate cake or pork roast? Wonder if you have an eating disorder, but decide that you don’t because you’re wondering about it. Think maybe your healthcare job is making you paranoid.

Let out a heavy sigh when you decide you have to go to the store. If you had known the pathetic state of your fridge, you would have picked something up on the way home. When you say this to your dog, he looks at you with a smile and a hanging tongue. You miss him all the time. Wish you could take him with you, but don’t because it’s too cold. Wish you didn’t work so many hours because then you could take him to the park and watch him herd other dogs.

Walk to the store because you don’t have a car. You can’t afford one. Pull on your puffy coat because it’s freezing out. Curse miserably when the cold air hits your face. Feel it seeping into the tiny pores of your jeans. Wish you wore long underwear. Wonder if anyone actually wears long underwear.

It’s a half a mile to the Stop and Shop, but your hands are already tingling when you near the end of your block. Almost get hit by a car. Twice. Once was your fault because it’s dark and you crossed the street without a signal.  Flip them both off anyway.

The bright lights of the store are a commercial beacon. They summon you across the dark, frozen lot. Squint a little when you walk in and wonder why it has to get dark so early. Remember a book you read in college that talked about the soothing nature of super markets. Disagree with the author whose name you don’t remember. Billo? Lillo? Give up. You hate the lights that make you feel exposed, the loud beeps, the bustling carts and the other people.

Try not to buy too much. Only what fits in your dirty purple basket: a sweet potato, a block of cheese, a bag of salad. You know the salad will go bad before you eat it. Buy it anyway. Olives, crackers, eggs. Your basket is filling.

See a couple politely discussing their choice of Greek yogurt. Should we get honey or plain? Feel that “we” hanging in the air, taunting you. Want the yogurt to spontaneously explode in their hands. Hope that one of them feels so strongly about Chobani that a fight breaks out with an irritated sigh and a “you always get what you want, don’t you?” Decide they are too nice. Get bored with them.

Stare at the shelves of bread. Why can’t you get a half loaf of bread? Or better yet a quarter loaf? Think that couples don’t have this problem. Pace in front of the bread muttering about half loafs and quarter loafs. Realize you might look unhinged. Wonder if you are. Look longingly at the baguettes. Shove the multi-grain loaf into your basket. Blame it on your healthcare job.  Decide you’ll freeze half the loaf, even though that means you’ll probably never eat it, because you don’t have a toaster.

Make yourself small by holding your basket directly in front of you. Say “excuse me” a lot. It makes up for hitting people most of the time.

Go to the checkout counter. Notice that the number of checkout counters with cashiers is diminishing. The machines are rolling in like a tidal wave, wiping out all of the humans. You prefer people.

Realize you forgot your Stop and Shop card. The cashier looks at you expectantly. Tell her you forgot it while admiring the amber color of her eyes. You’ve never seen anyone with eyes like that. She’s not particularly beautiful. If you described her you might use the word striking. Wonder if she’d go out with you.

She seems annoyed. Think to hell with her. Pay with a credit card. Feel relieved when it goes through. Gather your plastic bags in one gloved hand. Mutter a “thanks” to the girl with amber eyes, but don’t look at her again.

It’s half a mile to the Stop and Shop but about five back. Feel a little unsafe walking in the dark. Wonder if you would feel unsafe if you were a man. Decide you watch too much SVU.

When you get home, unpack your plastic bags. Notice that none of the things you bought go together. If this were an outfit, that scarily energetic couple from What Not to Wear would invade your closet.

Wonder if you’re incompetent. Think that at least you went to the store.

Hug your dog and stretch out on the kitchen floor. The hardwood is cold, but you’re still wearing your jacket. Your dog crawls onto your stomach. He’s warm. His breath stinks but you don’t care. Rub his ears, and talk to him in that voice you hate but he seems to know is just for him.

Mentally go down the list of what you bought. Feel like you’re forgetting something. Get up and open the fridge. Stare at its bowels without seeing. Ask your dog what you should eat. He doesn’t answer.

You could make breakfast for dinner: a cheese omelet and fried potatoes. All of the frying pans are in the sink. Your roommates have already made dinner and haven’t cleaned up. You realize it’s almost 9pm. The idea of washing a pan, cracking eggs, mixing them with shredded cheese and frying them seems difficult. It’s too much work for one. Think that’s a depressing way to look at things.

Know that you could text her and she would come right over. You could make her an omelet and fried potatoes and watch her eat them with relish.  You like the way she eats like she’s never tasted before. You like it but you don’t love it. You could eat with her and your stomach would stop telling you that you’re hungry. You could chat with her about the work day. You could kiss her, and she would taste like fried sweet potatoes with ketchup. You could but you don’t.

Instead you think about watching the Red Sox and the Rangers on a summer night. The smell of stale beer and popcorn filled the air. You were unpleasantly surprised by the sound your sneakers made as they stuck and unstuck to the concrete floor. But Sarah was smiling. When she was smiling, you would give her anything. She wanted a Fenway Frank. That’s what she called them. When she bit into it the juice rolled down her chin, and she wiped it away with the sleeve of her shirt. You rolled your eyes at her because her joy was too much. She swiped ketchup across your bottom lip with her finger and then licked it off. You thought that was weird, but it turned you on. She laughed. She thought you were naïve. You thought you loved her.

Realize you’re still staring into the fridge. Scrap the omelet idea.

About Natalie Ramm

I read a lot, y'all.
This entry was posted in Books I read, Natalie writes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to How to Cook for One

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