My husband once asked me if I liked to cook. Since I do most of the cooking and have been heard to complain about it now and then, I had to think. In the end, I told him I like to feed people. Two children, a few years and several hundred grilled cheese sandwiches later, I’m awash in conflicting emotions about even that.
I can’t seem to let things go unfed. I no longer sleep in on Saturday mornings, because if I left it to my daughter, the horse won’t be fed until noon. I can hear his plaintive whinnies in my bedroom and she can’t. Poor baby, I sigh, and slip out of bed to keep a thousand pounds of brawn from neighing the horse equivalent of “Please, sir, may I have some more?”
The cat is fed in the morning before I am, and has only to turn her sweet crystal-blue eyes on me and meow “empty, empty” for me to leap from my chair and rain down kitty kibble into her bowl, completely forgetting that this is the same cat that gnaws on me when I try to pet her.
The rat’s little paws clutch her cage bars and I slip her some cat food, banana slices, raisins. “Must have broccoli,” she pleads. She gets broccoli.
Which brings us to children. They want to be fed and I want to feed them, but my desolate pleas of “What shall we have for dinner?” are met with either “pizza,” “grilled cheese,” or “I don’t care.” (By the way, for those of you out there who may be asked that question by someone you supposedly love, those answers are no use at all. Please ponder the question, give the appearance of chewing it over, and if your dull mind is still a wasteland, your only correct response is “I know! Let’s go out for dinner!” All right, I’m glad I could help you out with that.)
Back to children. Both of mine like, nay, love, grilled cheese sandwiches. The George Foreman grill is hardly ever cool. Yes, the same George Foreman grill reputed to be “fat-reducing.” Sorry, George.
The first week back from the beauties of a European vacation a few years ago, I made approximately thirty grilled cheese sandwiches for the two of them, to make up for their weeks of sad deprivation.
If it hadn’t been for the spread of the American pizza gospel to the continent, my children would have starved there, surrounded by breads made in heaven, divine sausages and holy cheeses. Kid cannot live on European pastries alone, but combined with pizza and an occasional banana, you can eke out a sorry sort of life.
Only today, as I read the Sunday paper, my husband thought to ask the boy if he wanted a grilled cheese before he put away George. My son, after agonizing over the question for all of one half of one second, said yes.
“Okay,” said the man of the house, “I won’t put the grill away then.”
And, calling me while I was deep in Parade magazine, came the cry, “Mommy, can you make me a grilled cheese sandwich?”
To which I replied, after wallowing up out of my Sunday paper bacchanalia, “Wait just a doggone minute here!”
Yes, I hotted up the grill. Yes, I made yet another grilled cheese sandwich. Yes, I am a sap.
I had only one consolation while buttering, slicing and slapping together. I proclaimed in testy tones that I imagined the grilled cheese sandwiches I had made in the last ten years or so could bury me if heaped up in a pile. This idea intrigued my son, so he pondered it and then stated with enthusiasm, “Boy, I’d like to see that.”
So if you come to my house, you will be fed. Look for the pile of grilled cheese sandwiches and take one. I’m under there, tossing out the occasional pizza, Frisbee-style. I’m sitting on a bale of hay, with the Friskies, the broccoli and George to keep me company.
It’s peaceful, if oily, in here.