The panic attack
I was standing in the middle of a supermarket the other night knowing that we weren't going to have a real dinner because it was very late, the remnants of the prepared food section didn't look edible, I was too tired to cook something from scratch, and it struck me that most nights for the rest of my life until they start feeding me intravenously I was going to have to come up with something to have for dinner and then fix it. Night after night. Week after week. Year after year.
You get the idea.
I called my husband from the canned fruits and vegetables aisle and explained this to him, taking deep calming breaths.
He said, ...
..."You know it doesn't matter to me. I can just open a can of soup."
Brilliant. However, not helpful. My problem is that I can't just open a can of soup. That's. Not. Dinner.
And, because he knows me too well, he didn't say, "You can just open a can of soup."
I can eat leftovers, or prepared foods, but it has to have a dinner format, along the lines of a meat or meat substitute, vegetables and often a starch, glass of wine. (Wine not optional in winter.) A sandwich? No. That's lunch. A hamburger on a bun? Marginal, I'm not sure why. An entree salad? Only in summer. Of course, good homemade soup with crusty bread qualifies; I'm sorry if that seems irrational to you.
Dinner cannot be eaten standing up.
All this, I know, matters a lot more to me in winter when dinner is often the highlight of the day. It reminds me of my friend Karen who hates winter even more than I do and was complaining one winter that she was getting too fat to fit into her pajamas.
When I first got married I wrote out seven nights' worth of menus every week, stuck it up on the refrigerator door and did the shopping in advance. Now I find myself in the unpleasant position of stopping at a grocery store every night on my way home from work, often without an idea in the world of what I'm going to buy.
Only 10,000 more dinners to go.
(Photo of a real dinner by Kim Hairston/Sun photographer)