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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

For our birthdays our friends the P’s wanted to come over and bring us dinner. They would do all the cooking and prepping, show up with food, serve us and call it a great success. On the menu: Latin street tacos.

They could have said it was bat intestines and I would have thought it was just as spectacular an idea. As long as someone else was cooking and cleaning and serving, AND I could stay home in my sweats while it all happened, it all sounded perfect to me.

The only problem with this plan is that I had to get the apartment in a state where other people could enter it without calling the health department.

This involved not a small amount of moving things from here to there, especially as we are in the midst of an organizing take-everything-out-of-the-closet-before-you-can-put-it-back project.

But we agreed to the day being today. This morning I woke up, looking forward to an evening of being hand-fed grapes atop my throne, and surveyed my kingdom.

The dishes from weekend breakfast were still in the sink. The griddle from weekend bacon was still on the counter and the grease was still speckled across the backsplash. Empty boxes from my last Target order cluttered the floor, mail in various states of being opened covered the table. “Everything” from my office closet was on the office floor, and when that ran out of space, was pushed out to the living room.

On the plus side, Ralph moved all the furniture this weekend so we could vacuum and dust behind it, so I finally got rid of the pine needles from Christmas.

Undaunted, I made a List. I planned my day down to the hour, slotting in time for getting my client work done, then for cleaning and vacuuming, and for shoving anything in our living space into a corner of the bedroom where nobody would notice. I planned time to get on the Peloton and to shower. I had it all perfectly coordinated with an hour to spare.

Things went swimmingly until about noon when Ralph asked, “Do you have everything you need for tonight?”

Of course I had everything I needed. I had my face, didn’t I? And that’s where the food was going that someone else was bringing, fully cooked.

Did you make the guacamole?

Why would I have made the guacamole? Nobody asked me to make the guacamole.

Yes, P1 loves your guacamole and asked if you would make it.

And sure enough, I had missed a text from days ago where P1 did, in fact, say they would love my guacamole.

Open hood. Throw monkey wrench into engine.

Had I seen that message days ago I might have been able to prepare for guacamole, but as it stood I had not so much as a single lime.

It seemed ill-mannered to fail in the simple task of making guacamole when my friends had spent all day cooking this special dinner. So I threw on some shoes and ran myself to the grocery store with all good intentions of grabbing a couple of avocados and racing back home.

But The First Cardinal Rule Of Shopping is that you never go to the grocery store more often than you have to, and I could not bear not to maximize the usefulness of this trip because I was almost out of olive oil so why not just grab some? Also if I was getting cilantro for the guacamole I would have lots left over and I could make pesto with it but I needed parmesan for that. And since I was in the deli section for the parmesan I could get some ham to cover lunch next week, but also I’d have to get bread and once I was in the bread aisle I figured I may as well get the yogurt, too.

$70 later…

What I am about to say is in no way exaggerated for effect. I just want to make that clear, lest you think I am merely telling a story. This is not just based on true events, these are actual true events.

I pulled into our parking lot, got out of the car, picked up my bags of groceries and was standing there fishing out the house keys when my phone rang. It was Ralph.

Are you going to make the cake?




[which was the approximate amount of time it took for me to process the question and compose myself enough to form a sentence]

What cake?

The chocolate cake.

Did somebody ask me to make the chocolate cake and I missed that, too?

No, but it’s their favorite cake, and it would be really nice if we made it as part of the birthday dinner.

The Second Cardinal Rule Of Shopping is that regardless of the time spent shopping, someone will only ever call you with a last-minute request the second you get home and are about to walk in the door.

I realize, dear reader, that I was at an inflection point in that moment where I could easily and justifiably have said I am about to walk in the door and I’m not going back out for cake ingredients.

But I did not.

I mean, it’s not every day that people offer to spend all day cooking for you then bring you hot dinner and birthday presents.

So I turned around, got back in the car and drove back to the store. At which point I spent a half hour buying everything I could conceivably want in the house for the next two weeks, because see: The First Cardinal Rule Of Shopping.

$70 later…

There was no point in looking at my list after that. Anything I had planned to do was shot and dead, and all I needed to figure out was how to make cake, guacamole, clean up and shower before they showed up with dinner.

I answered the door with my hair dripping wet down my back, but damnit, I did it.

And as with all stories, there is always the ironic twist. They showed up with all the ingredients I needed to make guacamole.

The story does have a happy ending, because of course I got dinner and presents and as a bonus I even got a slice of my own cake. We drank a great many cocktails and even though nobody hand-fed me grapes, my kitchen remained relatively unscathed and all the dirty pots and pans went home with the P’s.

I did not tell them the shopping story.

Sometimes a wound is too fresh, and the tacos were too delicious for it to matter anyway. One day we will laugh about it, but for tonight I simply enjoyed the company of friends and a lovely birthday celebration. And tomorrow I will eat leftover guacamole.

Photo: a bit of tonight’s dinner, mostly eaten before I remembered the photo-op.