When I'm in the supermarket, there might as well be a giant neon sign over my cart that reads, "Bachelor!" Take one look in my shopping cart, and it's obvious that I can't cook. There's usually nothing there but prepared meals, junk food, and maybe the occasional banana. In my defense, I tend to avoid frozen dinners and the really cheap stuff, but still just about everything I buy can be nuked and on the table in under five minutes. Other people's shopping carts are full of ingredients. Mine only has food -- ready to serve, ready to eat. If it has to be mixed with anything more complex than water, then I want nothing to do with it.
It's so bad that I can sometimes buy an entire week of food and still qualify for the express lane. And even that express lane isn't always quick enough. You never know when the "ingredient people" might try to sneak in. Personally, I think there should be a special express lane just for guys who can't cook. No ingredients allowed. How will we know who to let in? Simple. Just look in their carts. And if that doesn't work, maybe give them a quick cooking quiz.
"Excuse me, Sir, what's the difference between oregano and tarragon?"
"Okay, you can go through."
"Wait, which one is oregano again?"
"It's okay, Sir. You can go through. Just making sure you belonged here."
The worst part is that I feel lost when I find myself in a store without a prepared meals section. I don't know what to do. I can somehow walk through an entire 15-aisle supermarket and still complain that there's nothing to buy.
"Excuse me, I'd like to talk to the manager. There's no food here."
"What are you talking about? We have plenty of food here."
"No, those are ingredients. I want something already prepared."
"Um, we have bananas in aisle six."
"Well, are they peeled? I think not."
Okay, I'm not that bad. There are even times when I try my hand at advanced cooking. For example, just last week, I made garlic bread. I call this advanced cooking because it involved taking the garlic bread out of the freezer and placing it in a strange, mystical fixture in the corner of my kitchen known as the oven. (Apparently, the "oven" in microwave oven is actually derived from this word. Who knew?) My roommate has tried to explain its nuances, but this oven still confuses me. I'm told that it doesn't even use radiation. Can you believe that? I mean, whoever heard of cooking food without radiation? What is this? The sixties?
Having said all this, my attempt to use the primitive oven was a complete success. The garlic bread was delicious. And when a friend called in the middle of my advanced cooking, I was even able to shock her by using a phrase that had never before passed my lips. "I gotta go. I got something in the oven," I said, as she practically fainted.
I know that I could probably learn to cook meals that are at least slightly edible, but somehow I just don't want to. I would rather walk thirty minutes to a restaurant than spend fifteen minutes cooking up a quick meal. And on those rare occasions when I do cook something more elaborate than garlic bread, I eat it as if I am the private taster for the Tsar. Did I screw it up? Has it gone bad? Is it undercooked? Is it burnt? Is it edible? Too much salt? Not enough? Will I somehow die from eating it?
As you can tell, I have little confidence in my cooking ability. Many times, I've managed to throw out perfectly good meals simply because I convinced myself that I had ruined them. Or, by the time the meal's on the table, I'm already so sick of it that I can't bear to put any of it in my mouth.
Despite all this, in a strange way, I'm actually proud of not cooking. Hey, someone has to keep all the cooks busy. And, besides, there's just so much other stuff that I would rather do than stand over a hot oven. Some people may enjoy cooking, but I'm perfectly satisfied to let others do the dirty work. After all, whatever the food, there's nothing quite as tasty as a meal prepared by somebody else.
|Copyright 2000 by Joe Lavin
Joe Lavin's Humor Column is published every Tuesday at: http://joelavin.com
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Submitted By: Joe Lavin
Apr 5, 2000 14:34