Monday, February 8, 2010

In which we buy our own lunch

December 2009 We are between the airport and Sly and Doris' house. Primo has some deal with his Amex card where he has to spend money at six merchants and he'll get a $30 credit blah blah blah. He still needs to buy something from Whole Foods, which is not a place we usually shop because they are outrageously expensive, although I am happy to take the sample cruise.

He calls his dad to see if they need anything from the store. They have bread. Good. I have no interest in spending six dollars on a loaf of bread. Even the Good Flour doesn't cost that much for five pounds and you can make a lot of bread with five pounds of flour. Primo asks if they have stuff for lunch.

Of course they don't.

Because. They. Don't. Eat. Lunch.

What are the rules on this? My dad gave me a stern talking to once because I didn't have coffee. "But Dad!" I whined. "I don't drink coffee!"

"Yes, but you might have guests who want coffee," he answered. "Like me."

Oh. Right. So I bought coffee and my little Cuban coffee maker thingy and there you go. I also developed the habit, especially when I lived in Miami, where I seemed to have an awful lot of company, especially in the winter, of stocking my fridge with orange juice and yogurt and cold cereal, all foods that I usually do not consume but are considered traditional breakfast fare by most. I did not want to force my guests to eat oatmeal, which was my breakfast of choice.

So yeah. When you have guests, you provide the basics for them: breakfast, LUNCH, and supper.*

Sly and Doris don't need anything, but I do. I eat lunch because if I don't keep my blood sugar up, I get a headache and I've already had a headache for 12 days straight and that's an awful lot of imitrex to use plus I turn kind of bitchy when I have a headache and I'm already bitchy about having to visit Sly and Doris and Primo really doesn't need the additional stress of my bitchiness when he already has the stress of his parents expecting him to Make Them Happy.

Plus I get hungry. Doesn't everyone?

So we go to Whole Foods to buy some lunch meat. I do not want a repeat of last year. Last year, there was no lunch.** Nothing. Oh sure there was some rancid generic peanut butter and a bunch of Cracker Barrel cheese (see: "We're lactose intolerant except for Primo and That Woman's $24/lb Carr Valley cheese, cream cheese, and Kopps frozen custard") and crackers, but I did not want to eat cheese and crackers for lunch five days in a row, so after I got back from the Y in the morning and then spent a couple of hours working the yard, I would go to the grocery store and buy myself something, muttering bitterly to myself the entire time. I bought a supply of almonds to keep in the bedroom so I would have emergency protein.

There was no fruit in the house. Yes, I could have bought fruit. But I didn't want to. I shouldn't have had to. Produce is horribly expensive where they live. Horribly. It takes a few days to ripen. I was ticked off enough that I was buying my own darn lunch. We had flown them to our house two months earlier. We had fed them for NINE DAYS. We had bought their damn Lactaid. They couldn't feed me lunch? They couldn't buy a few pears?***

I was in a very, very bad mood.

Because here is one of My Things:

I hate wasting calories on crappy food.

I have been a Fat Chick. I work hard to stay at a weight I like or at least don't hate. If I am going to eat something, I want it to be really, really good. I resent, I bitterly resent, having to eat bad food, as in processed, crummy, lousy-tasting food, just because I have to get something in my stomach. I am a really good cook. One of Primo's main [fake] complaints about our marriage is that we don't go out to eat enough. But really - why bother to go out if we can cook just as well or better at home?

So having to eat crackers (salt, salt, salt) and low-end cheese for lunch or something off the processed food shelf at the grocery store or something from a fast-food restaurant is not my idea of honoring the temple that is my body or my taste buds.

I was ticked.

I complained to Primo. "What is wrong with them?" I hissed.

"They're not hungry," he said.

In retrospect, I should have just eaten the supper leftovers. I should have. Then when supper came around and there was nothing there, I could have just said, "That wasn't lunch? But I was so hungry after spending three hours clearing out all the weeds in the back yard/cleaning the mildew off the front door/cleaning out the garage/etc, etc, etc."

But I didn't. I was an idiot.

Back to Whole Foods. Primo and I buy some turkey and some roast beef. We arrive chez Sly and Doris with our own lunch meat. Yes. We come with our own food after having spent $500 to fly there and having rented (well, used Hertz miles) a car.

We come bringing our own food.

If I had a guest show up compelled to bring his own food, I would be mortified. Drop-dead shamed mortified.

Sly and Doris don't seem bothered in the least. I guess they have a different standard of what it means to be a good host.

* My mother was emailing a month before we visited her this year to find out what Primo likes and what she could bake and cook for him. When I took my vegetarian boyfriend Sean to visit my mother, she made sure that every single meal was vegetarian friendly, even to the point of having another dessert when she made mincemeat pie.

** We left the day after Thanksgiving. So there would have been leftovers the day after Thanksgiving, but by then, it was too late.

*** In their defense, I do have to say that they did have diet Dr Pepper waiting for me. I am going to whine, though, and point out that it was the soda in the two-liter bottles, which everyone knows is inferior because it loses its fizz over time, and not the canned soda. "Oh, they only had the 24-pack at the store," they said, "and you were only going to be here for a few days." So? Like you drank all the Lactaid? Like it would have killed you to spend $4.99 on me? You spend more than that every afternoon on booze.


  1. People like you and me, GD, show our love and appreciation for people through food ('cause, as you know, I'm no schlep in the kitchen, either). Apparently Doris and Sly are of a different school of thought all together.

  2. Even though Sly & Doris have major issues, writing about this & rehashing it all the time is only like picking a scab off of an injury again and again. It will never heal and you'll only get more bitter. Life is just to short to hold even a well justified grudge. Forgive and move on...

  3. Anon, bless your heart. I appreciate your concern. I can only assume you have been lucky enough in your life that you have never had relatives or in-laws like Sly and Doris. Trust me that it is not as easy as forgiving and moving on. At least, not while you still have to see them.

  4. Story telling is a form of catharsism. It is also interesting and entertaining for those priviledged to listen.

  5. I agree with Jan about showing love thru providing food for guests. My parents do the whole cold cut sandwich lunch thing; we don't. But we make sure when they come each summer to have everything they like.
    When my 3 kids were very small and we were so broke, we'd go visit my ex MIL and she never had any food for us; no milk or juice or bread or cereal, etc for her little grandkids. I'd end up packing stuff because she'd hand my ex $20 bucks for us to get stuff at the store up there and of course it didn't cover much. Drove me crazy! I do not miss not having to see that woman!!

  6. HRD, yes! Isn't there something fascinating about watching the train wreck/comedy of someone else's life? I'm just trying to entertain people here. :)

    Maureen - she didn't have food for her own grandkids? What is wrong with that woman? My granma not only had regular food, she had all the stuff we didn't get at home, like soda and sugar cereal: Cap'n Crunch, Sugar Smacks. The good stuff. The expensive stuff. I realize now that this meant she and my grandfather cut back somewhere else because they were retired farmers without much money, but to her, food was love. "Eat, eat!" she would urge.

    And no - I am not a big fan of sandwich meat. Processed food. Ick. At home, we have leftovers for lunch. I want real food - a solid meal - for lunch. But sandwiches seemed the easiest way to solve the lunch dilemma at the outlaws' house.

  7. I come from a long line of stuff your guest with food until they can't move.