I don’t feel like cooking.
The text from my wife came on Friday night while I was walking to the car, escaping the office while there was still a sliver of daylight outside.
I understood. Unlike when we were in our 20’s and did our best to sample every highly touted restaurant within a twenty mile radius, we now do a fairly decent job of cooking meals at home and, during the week, that task falls upon her. I don the chef’s hat on the weekends.
It had been a pretty crazy week – I had worked late three of the previous four nights, so our usual weeknight tag team effort of her cooking and my cleaning the kitchen/prepping for the next day (lunches, coffee, etc.) became a one-person show.
Even the most disciplined of people need a day off, so I suggested we order delivery. I told her that I was feeling pizza – I don’t know what it is, but there’s still something about pizza on a Friday night – so she said she’d order it and it’d be there roughly around the time I got home.
Forty-five minutes later, I walked in the door and…no pizza. She told me that she had called about a half hour earlier so that it should be arriving soon.
So we waited. And waited. And waited.
My kid whimpered, “I’m hungry,” over and over again and began begging for a snack. We assured her that her spaghetti would be there very soon (she doesn’t eat pizza) and that she needed to wait so that she didn’t spoil her appetite.
Time continued to pass and we all began getting hangry. My wife and I were sniping at each other while the kid vacillated between malaise and anger. After it had been more than an hour, she called back and was told that the order had gotten lost, but they promised that they’d begin making it immediately – and threw in some free mozzarella sticks as a token of apology.
Upon hearing this news, the kid reached a new level of desperation.She acted like she hadn’t eaten in days. She is going to be a nightmare when the apocalypse comes. I don’t think she’s cut out for a future like The Road. Usually in these cases, we discipline her, trying to instill patience and understanding. But it was now an hour past her usual dinner time and we still had some time to go, so I decided to go in a different direction.
“Are you hungry?” I asked her.
She nodded pitifully as if she were a peasant orphan in a Dickens novel.
“Well,” I said, “You can eat my arm.”
“NO!” She was somewhere between playful and angry and any parent can tell you that it’s an important tightrope to walk.
“Come on,” I insisted. “It’s delicious.”
“Okay, I have an idea.”
“Come into the kitchen.”
“We need some ingredients.”
“To make my arm taste better, silly.”
I walked into the kitchen. She giggled and followed dutifully behind. I pulled out a mixing bowl and stirring spoon and placed them on the counter.
“What do you want to put on it?” I asked her. “It can be anything you like.”
She thought for a moment, even placing a finger to to her chin. Then she started shouting them out.
“Mac & Cheese!”
“Opameal!” [Her way of saying oatmeal]
As she rattled them off, I scampered back and forth between the refrigerator and pantry, placing them on the counter next to the bowl. She also requested pickles, but we didn’t have any, so we just imagined that we did. [The next day, we went to Shop Rite and, in the process of getting those pickles, she dropped the jar, the glass breaking in the middle of aisle 9. Maybe we weren’t meant to have pickles.]
When the counter was covered in random crap, I told her to (pretend) to pour them all in the bowl and mix them up. Once she had stirred it, I told her to taste it and she looked at me the way my new boss looks at me and said, “I have to cook it first, you silly goose!”
Of course. What was I thinking?
She has her own kitchen, but preparing a sauce to apply to an arm can only be done in a big oven, apparently. She placed the bowl in the oven, closed it, and announced, “It will take forty-hundred-twenty seconds to cook.” While I was trying to determine how long that would be (I think it’d be 67 minutes or four thousand seconds), she yelled, “Done!” She grabbed an oven mitt and pulled out the bowl, placed it on the counter and said, “Daddy, don’t touch – it’s really hot!”
Once she gave it enough time to cool off (five seconds at least), she began spreading it on my arms. Then, we proceeded to eat them, unable to making chewing sounds because we were laughing so much and acting as if our mouths were full of arm hair.
We did it two more times – I guess my arms still had some good stuff left on them, like corn on the cob – before switching to a different game, a combination of chase, surprise, and hide-and-seek that also involved my wife. That game was winding down when the doorbell rang.
We quickly dug into our respective meals and I looked at the clock. 7:45 pm. It was an hour-and-forty-five minutes later than she usually eats and we didn’t have to endure a meltdown. In fact, it was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I giggled as much as she did. We play together every night and often laugh and act goofy, but for some reason – hunger, fatigue, or just timing and luck – this was one of those nights that became an instant classic.
The next morning, as I making my morning cup of coffee, she begged me to do it again. This time, it was my legs. It was fun, though not as much as the night before. After we did it, she gave me a huge hug, and said, “This game is so much fun! I love you, you’re the best!”
Thank you for forgetting our order, pizza guy. You made my weekend.
Christopher Pierznik’s eight books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.