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what brings us together is food
An entry from today featured in our newly launched family project, Ask Nels:
I want to find a boyfriend. Where should I look?
You can just ask someone to be your boyfriend. You can look inside some woods, like my Grandma did. You can stay there until I get older and then I can be your boyfriend.
I hosted nine people for dinner tonight. Three of our friends from up north came by on their way back from camping, and my mom invited her boyfriend D. over. In honor of Sophie’s first soccer practice I prepared her favorite meal: spaghetti with meatballs (I rarely if ever use a recipe for this dish and it is always fantastic). I also made roasted cauliflower, salted cucumber, garden carrots, ceaser salad, and sweet tea. And somehow I did this while chatting with my out-of-town friend S. and not feeling at all crazy about (still) living in the non-space that I make my home in.
As we sat down to dish up D. waited until my mom had loaded his plate with veggie accoutrement, then took up a huge, huge spoonful of angel hair pasta. My mom quickly (but quietly) jumped on him for taking such a large share. “You can’t take that many – there are lots of people here!” she whispered. “But I’m hungry for this much,” he said, and didn’t budge. WTF – is he five years old? They actually argued over this for a while. Then he put some back, and later when there was enough, requested her apology. This was kind of perfect, a knife’s edge balance of things that grate on my ass: my mother’s constant chastisement of people about the “polite” thing to do, vs. a display of douchebaggery at a communal meal. Unbeknownst to the guests I’d already set an extra salted pot of water to boil for the possibility of a pasta FAIL, so we were covered.
In D.’s defense, I have seen my spaghetti and meatballs make people do crazy things before. Once we had a male guest who loaded up plate after plate, telling us these enthralling stories the whole while to distract anyone from infringing on his meat-share, and only getting one speck of red sauce on his impeccable shirtfront. I have seriously not seen anyone eat that many meatballs, not even Joe Crecca from my Port Townsend years.
By way of previous reference, my mom did indeed find a boyfriend “in the woods”. Or rather, they ran into one another in town and when she found out he lived off the grid out in the boonies (no plumbing, no electricity, a house that needed much work on) these aspects of his lifestyle further recommended him to her fancy. I haven’t been to his place. I don’t really like the guy. But I’m glad my mom does, and that my kids do. They’ve been out to his place a few times (the kids). But he comes over much more often to ours.
Looking up my own caesar salad recipe I came upon a post (also including diners who behave like heels) that reminded me: I miss my dad so much. That was some OG bastard.