Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Clash of the Graces

Let me start with an immediate acknowledgement that: THIS WASN’T PART OF THE PLAN. (No, not some Glorified “Five Year Plan,” or anything, just part of the general, Don’t-Let-Your-Life-Fall-To-Pieces Plan)
I hit a new low tonight. I did. Somewhere between crawling around on the floor to pick up crumbs cause I didn’t wanna turn the vacuum on and wake the baby, and scurrying in and out of the laundry room, changing over loads of laundry, I came REAL CLOSE to Rock Bottom. I won’t say “I hit Rock Bottom” tonight, and I’ll probably never say that I hit Rock Bottom, because it seems that if one actually owns that they’ve made contact with those kinds of depths, it’s always bound to get worse. So, no, I didn’t hit Rock Bottom, but maybe it was… Silt Bottom.
To be fair, hear me out on my disclaimer: I never eat. If this was due to an eating disorder, I’d probably be eating more than I do right now, but plain and simple: food costs money. Money that I don’t wanna spend. So yeah, when I babysit, I might eat more than my share. And in my defense, the food is not only free, but it’s free and high quality. Because the paychecks that fill these refrigerators aren’t shabby (ahem, like mine). I’M NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT BABYSITTING OR MAKING MONEY; I’m not. But I hadn’t eaten all day. (I’m talking real food, here, the kind intended for humans. The kind that doesn’t include: bagel, yogurt, or cereal. Because that’s pretty much all I’d eaten for the past seven days. Oh, who am I kidding? The past two months.)
So the Mom and Dad brought home 18 month old Pax* from a Halloween party, after he’d eaten dinner. DANG IT: according to my child feed-o-meter, that means he won’t be hungry. And he’s so young that I can’t innocently suggest a snack like popcorn, with the hidden agenda of eating it all: he went straight to bed. Which means I had to… well, flagrantly raid the pantry. I’d like to point out that this is actually pretty socially acceptable. I have traveled to the home of this family to care for their child: no, I’m not going to grill the 3 filets that are in the freezer, but it’s not uncommon for some cereal and milk to be gone by the end of the night you’ve had a babysitter.
But because young Pax had an exter-domestic dinner, (see what I did there, with the Latin? …No? Ok, moving on) there wasn’t even a plate off of which I could eat the scraps. And I couldn’t disguise my dinner as a part of his dinner: ergo my use of “flagrant.” Mom and Dad were going to know who had been in the pantry.
So I tried to talk myself out of it. The Well-Mannered Grace did her best to mollify the Ravenous, Barbaric Grace with things like, “Shhhh Sweetie, you can go to In-N-Out Burger after this; I know it’s been a long week and you haven’t had real food, it’s ok to spend three dollars on a burger, it won't drain your bank account…”
But Grace the Barbarian took over. (Ok, no, I didn’t have a broadsword, although I am certified by the Society of American Fight Directors to wield one onstage… Or whatever that certificate says that they sent me over the summer.)         
So I opened the fridge.
What happens next is the part where my (unpedicured toes) came in contact with the silt. Because the dish that I proceeded to concoct could have been legitimately called “The Kitchen Sink.” Was it an assortment of everything in the refrigerator, on the level that would have grossed out the masses, on a universal scale? Nah. But for me personally, it may as well have been that revolting, month-old plate that Tom Cruise accidentally gets his hands on after his temporarily-blinding surgery in Minority Report, meets the bottom of my roommate Molly’s veggie drawer in our fridge, which had to be painfully cleared out before any of our vacations in college. (Molly, I love you, but you know your drawer fits this bill.)
So back up to: the fact that these people have an INSANE juicer, which I’ve been itching to try, but we’re just not at that point in our relationship yet, where they can walk in and find me juicing away. Can they come home and find me on the couch, writhing in hysteria at the episode of “Go On” I’ve DVRed that night? Sure. Juicing, however… There’s kitchenware involved; it’s just a little more intimate than Brad*, Angelina* and myself are ready for. (And in case you’re wondering, I don’t live in a bubble of rigid babysitter boundaries: Kirk and Becca KNOW that if there’s any kind of dessert in their fridge, it will be gone by the time they get home. Todd and Rachel know that if they go to a nice restaurant and I don’t get a dessert brought back to me, I’ll be offended. But this is California. Different people, different rules.) So in my indecision about the Juicer, I open the veggie drawer in the fridge. And I see avocados.  Avocados that may or may not have come from their very own back yard. What else do I see? Basil Pesto, harvested with lemon basil, right out of their garden. And thus, an idea took flight, which manifested itself in the form of a salad/guacamole, made from an avocado, basil pesto, cheese, tomato and green onion.
I say “salad/guacamole” because it was, in all honesty, a little bit of both. I started out with a spoon cause I was stirring it, but then I found some tortilla chips to use as a utensil, instead… But I used the spoon to scrape the bottom of the bowl: it was a salad. 
No, no wait, I just had 8 more chips: it was totally guac.
Now for those of you who haven’t leapt up from the computer in revulsion, I’m getting to what I like to call the Silt Revelation, and it’s really quite simple. Riddle me this: who has the ability to open the fridge and concoct a bowl full of something that is so uncategorized that it can be eaten with a spoon and chips? Yes, that’s right: Dads and orphans.
In regards to the former: raise your hand if you haven’t heard your father referred to as “The Garbage Disposal,” at some point in your life? (Ok wait, no; you, in the back… put your hand down, the question was just for dramatic effect. I don’t care that- OH NEVERMIND.) Whether it’s because he’s the only one in the family who will eat the reheated leftovers from a meal that was originally served two weeks ago, or because he’ll pile together the last few bites of mashed potatoes, roast beef, broccoli and pancakes, and stuff your dinner remains into his mouth. (Ok, I’m kidding. There weren’t pancakes at the Roast Beef dinner…)
But you know what I mean: only Dads have the ability to heartily eat food combinations as obscure as the one I joyfully downed tonight.

Dads… and orphans, that is.

So I’m shoveling this Avocado Surprise into my mouth, marveling at what could have possibly possessed me to eat a “meal” that only a dad could be proud of, but then I wondered: what was really so heinous about it, anyway?
Ah. And now we see that conservatively-coiffed, Well-Mannered Grace has made a sudden appearance (She was most likely summoned by the delightful melody that sounded from the dryer, upon the completion of the latest load of laundry. It was as I was listening to this painfully detailed chime (seriously: the thing played at least 8 bars of music to tell me the load was done– was there a laundry nursery rhyme I missed, as a child? Surely not…) that I began to question my whirlwind of impulsive actions and how I could have possibly found this conglomeration to be appropriate) Said laundry melody summoned Well-Mannered Grace, always ready to analyze any semblance of questioning of one’s intentions, and she stopped Barbaric Grace cold, spoon in hand.
So what was so wrong with my creativity? Well-Mannered Grace pointed out that if my mother saw me, she would probably weep, not only because I was obviously so under-fed, but also because I know she could take one look at my Avocado Surprise and immediately list five other ingredients, off the top of her head that would have turned it into an actual salad, or actual guacamole. And therein lies the rub: what kind of people don’t have the knowledge that life, or at least food – meals, that is, should be much more organized and appetizing, because they have little to no experience of home-cooked meals that have been marinating in love? ORPHANS.
And there I was, scraping away at the bottom of the bowl, like a street rat. Not to mention – I was wolfing it down, not only out of hunger, but out of self-induced panic and high stakes. Panic that Brangelina would walk in and see this hybrid Dad-Orphan creature, shoveling food in her mouth like there was no tomorrow. I should probably take this moment to admit that yes, I’d watched about fourteen episodes of Homeland in the past 24 hours, so I couldn’t help but somehow think I was CIA agent Carrie Mathison, scrambling to polish off my last pieces of evidence, just like she rushes through intense, highly-staked situations in pursuit of justice. Because if Brangelina walked in and caught me red-handed with my GuacaSalad, the pieces would fall into place and I’d be finished. (Ie: they would suddenly realize where all that frozen cookie dough had disappeared to, from the freezer.)

Well-Mannered Grace interrupted at this point, remarking that I shouldn’t waste my breath comparing myself to the likes of Agent Mathison,  braving gunfire to escape with crucial evidence, against the orders of her superiors,  and should be more concerned with my similarity to Will Ferrell’s “Buddy,” in Elf, when he writes on the Etch-a-Sketch to his family, “Sorry I ruined your lives and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR…” (Ok, the eleven cookies were crammed into my mouth, but who’s counting?)
…I’ll be better tomorrow.
…If cookies aren’t on sale at Ralph’s, I’ll be better tomorrow.

*Names have been changed for the sake of protecting the identities of the poor people whose fridges are susceptible to Barbaric Grace. 

1 comment:

  1. Grace, I love this. And you. Now please let me make you dinner.