Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baring Space Bars Except in Space

There are times when you can brown bag it, and times when one should hand one’s spouse a five spot and a kiss to cover everything. Learning when this domestic advisory rule applies is part of the early marriage process. That my husband willingly still submits to my meals at noontime is testimony of his endearing devotion to me, but in my defense, we were saving for a house at the time and this fell under the unseasoned wife rubric of “reasonable sacrifice.”

Once a week trips to the store meant usually limping to the weekend by Thursday. Early in our marriage, as part of an agreed upon plan to cut expenses, we declared a ban on fast food and no purchased lunches. Because my husband was running a bit late that morning, I gallantly offered to make his lunch. I felt very wifely. We were a team, working to scrounge like ants for a bigger place, the American dream, a home of our own. I would do my part by eliminating his need to go out during the day and buy food.

In fatter financial times, this mid day consisted of a sandwich, some crackers or chips, a piece of fruit, a few sodas, a napkin and something sweet. Cobbling together something so he could work through the noon hour when the refrigerator, closet and pantry all showed signs of being mostly bare, would require creative thinking. However, that day I learned that even thrift must sometimes give way to function, and that good intentions without the proper plan lead to the lunch from hell.

First, there was the sandwich. I’d found two ends of two different loaves of bread, one a cheap white, the other, multi-grain wheat with nuts; neither was full sized. Not having any lunch meats of any kind, I scraped the inside edges of the peanut butter and applied raspberry seedless sugar free jam liberally. Then things began to fall apart. The box of triscuits resembled the dregs of a shredded wheat cereal box. What I thought was a jar of pickles turned out to be jalapenos. Most sensible people would abandon the quest at this point, but self reflection is something I tend to experience after I complete a task, not prior.

A bag filled with rejected apricots, raisins and one dried pineapple wedge from a nature hike qualified as the fruit. The vegetable storage yielded a few mini-carrots that lacked the vibrant orange color most people expect in such vegetables for a zip lock. With nary a diet soda in sight, I plopped the one coke and a frozen water bottle in his bag hoping the unhealthiness of one would be canceled out by the other. I’d made a sandwich, a snack, a side and provided two drinks. As sad as the offering was, it still could be considered a lunch if I foraged a dessert.

Frantically scanning the shelves, there were no crackers, no chocolate bars tucked in the freezer for emergency purposes, no microwavable popcorn or lone abandoned granola bars to be found. Then, I spotted something. Granted, it wasn’t normal fare and it had been sitting for a good six months in the closet after its purchase but the date was still good. Impulsively, I popped it in the bag. Who could resist the lure of freeze dried Neapolitan ice cream bars from our last trip to the Air and Space museum?

In the halls of fame of bad wife moves, giving your husband a stale slightly crushed space bar for lunch ranks only marginally above infidelity, but I was too flush from the success of my hunter/gather adventure to recognize this before I kissed him good bye for the day.

Four hours later, the phone rang.
“Hey Sher?”
“Yes Love?” I answered.

“Remember how when we lived in New York you used to walk over to the bakery on Bleeker street and buy Semolina braided bread while it was still warm and then go to the Grand Union and get a stick of butter, and then to the butcher for half a pound of baloney and the Chinese grocer for a tomato from the vine?”

“Yes. We called those sometimes better than ...”
“Sandwiches, yes! Remember how romantic I thought it was that you would walk all over Greenwich Village just to fix me lunch?”

We sat on the phone the way married people sometimes do when they don’t have anything to say but don’t want to hang up.

“About the dessert.”
"How was it?"
"You think there might be a reason that particular souvenir hadn't been eaten in six months?"
"Do you like freeze dried anything?" I sat there thinking about the fact that freeze dried ice cream tastes slightly worse than the smell of styrofoam peanuts.
"Oops." I said.

Bemused, he issued a husbandly edict no human could disagree with, “No space bars in lunch bags unless accompanied by the ambiance of being in an actual shuttle orbiting the earth.”

Seeing as I almost always like to squeeze in the last word, I issued a corollary: in a true marriage, even when all you have is space bars for lunch, you can still “feel the love.”

It’s just nicer to be on the giving side of that meal.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!