Thursday, February 2, 2012

In which Primo and I realize we have irreconcilable differences

When Primo and I first met, there was a lot of eating out. A lot of cooking fine meals. Indeed, on my first visit to his place in Fairview,* Primo made me a fabulous meal of steak and veg on the grill. It was December. There was snow. But that didn't stop him. He just went out on the porch in his flip flops, bravely ignoring the cold, and cooked with fire. Women like to see men flirting with danger. It's an aphrodisiac.

I cooked, too. I made waffles for supper one Friday evening, which is a perfectly fine meal if you ask me, but Primo was a little concerned because apparently, there is not a recommended wine for waffles. But waffles are fun and good and who has time to make them in the morning when you are really hungry and want something right now?

We ate out. Tried old and new restaurants. We ate in, trying new recipes: osso bucco, cream cheese bacon wrapped jalapeno thingies.**

Most importantly, we ate together. At the dining room table. Sometimes with candles. Always with cloth napkins. We use cloth napkins now. Even when we are eating in front of the TV.

Doris and Sly, the big environmentalists, use paper napkins. Wasteful. Tacky. Cloth is elegant, it feels better than paper, and it is certainly more responsible. (No, you do not have to wash your napkin every time you use it unless you are a complete slob. Primo and I are not complete slobs. Yes, we wash the napkins after we have company because nobody wants to use a napkin someone else has used, kind of like nobody wants to take a shower in the guest bathroom unless the tub has been cleaned. Who wants to stand in the dirt of a stranger? Not I.)

Then we got married. And moved into our house.

The dining room is in the cold part of the house. The section we keep closed off because our heating bill for the remaining part of the house is already $300/month in January and why would we want to heat part of the house that we almost never use? Are we made of money? Sly and Doris think so but they are wrong.

Man, they bug me.

So now, with the dining room closed off, we are reduced to using the kitchen, which has a table and benches, which would be fine, but that's not the real issue.

The real issue is that now that we are married, we have dropped our masks. I don't want to pretend any more that I like a big meal at night with long, intimate conversations and I certainly don't want to cook a big meal every day. While we were dating, I was trying to impress Primo with my wifely skills: cooking, cleaning, sock darning. But now, hahahahaha, we're married and he's stuck with me and I don't have to show off any more.

What I like to do is eat my main meal at lunch and then have an apple and cheese or an apple and peanut butter in the evenings. Which is exactly what I do when Primo is traveling, even though he complains that I am supposed to save the Good Cheese for when he is home. Yeah. Right. He's eating out at nice restaurants and I'm supposed to subsist on crummy cheese? We don't even have any Bad Cheese in our house. We have the Good Cheese and the Really Good Cheese and I'm not supposed to touch any of it because I'm supposed to share it with Primo.

But I don't even want the fancy meal when he is home. Well, I wouldn't mind the fancy meal, but I don't want to eat it at 8:00 p.m.

I'm hungry way before then. Primo likes to get super hungry before eating, but I like to maintain a steady state of stomach comfort. I see no benefit to feeling hungry. Isn't that what our subsistence farmer/hunter/gatherer ancestors worked to escape? Voluntary hunger is a concept that I just don't get, which is why I always keep Emergency Chocolate in my purse and in the car. I intend to avoid the tragedy of being hungy in public places if at all possible and if it means a few extra ounces in my purse, so be it.

So these are the essential eating problems:

1. Primo likes to eat late, I like to eat early
2. Primo wants a big meal at supper, I want it at lunch

Let's talk about number 3. I like to eat - it's one of my main hobbies, which is why exercise has to be my other hobby because spending money on new clothes a size larger is definitely not a hobby - but I don't like to drag it out. Sit down, eat, leave. Or, when I am alone, open the fridge, pull out the container of Thai Basil Chicken, eat as much as I want from the container (with the fridge closed - Primo is the fridge door open leaver, which makes me nuts), return container to fridge, return to book.

I view eating as a necessary biological function.

Primo looks at it as a Major Social Activity.

I agree with him - when there are other people besides us involved. I love having supper with friends.

But when it's just us? No. I do not want to spend an hour eating supper. It takes me ten minutes to finish and then I am supposed to watch Primo eat, which (love you, honey!) is dull, dull, dull.

I am also supposed to watch him do his wine rituals, which involve swirling wine around in his mouth and sticking his nose in the wineglass. Maybe if I appreciated wine, I would understand, but from my perspective of a former diet Coke drinker, it all seems silly.

So we have these conflicts. And I don't know how to resolve them, because they are zero-sum.

* Where he paid for the ticket, unlike the Moroccan millionaire, Gomez, who was simultaneously cheap and extravagent at the first time - he didn't buy my ticket to Paris but we went Ferrari shopping. Gomez is one of those people who have never not had money and I guess it just never occurred to him that not all of us have inherited vast wealth and actually have to worry about what we spend. Primo has not inherited wealth nor is that likely to happen, but he works his butt off and does not spend unwisely, unless you want to count all the wine in the basement and the almost weekly bargains from Menards of things we do not need like plastic bags that are guaranteed to make produce stay fresh for two weeks or longer. We use our produce before it's two weeks old, I tell him. Please return the bags. But they are only $2 after the rebate! he argues.

** If you have not tried these, you do not know what you are missing. Make them right now.