Now, don't get me wrong - I generally love sushi and don't usually need any convincing to eat it. It's just that I've never been quite comfortable with the sushi from Kroger. Yes, I know they hire professional sushi chefs to roll it; and yes, I know it's kept cool and thrown out at the end of each day; but there's just something about it I don't like. I think something happens to the way it tastes when it sits in its little plastic container for a few hours, like little seaweed wrapped corpses in a see-through coffin. It's probably all in my head.
My problem was that I went to the grocery store hungry. You're not supposed to shop hungry, you know. Apparently, it leads to bad decisions, like buying six boxes of Cocoa Puffs because you're sure you're gonna eat at least two of them on the ride home.
The bad decision I made was buying the sushi. I got it home, took one bite of it and then ordered a pizza.
This pathetic waste of money and time isn't new to me. I've been there before. It's the dilemma of the single man at dinner time.
Dinner time is hard for the single man. The married man's dinner time is tied intrinsically to that of his family. They eat as a unit, so he is rarely left to fend for himself. For the single man dinner is, most often, a solitary event.
Years ago, right after my divorce, when I first found myself single, I would eat out a lot. I found eating out without a wife was much cheaper than eating out with one. Half as cheap, actually. So I did it all the time.
Even though I was only paying for one meal, going to restaurants every night still got expensive in the long run, so I decided I needed to start eating at home. I would go to the grocery, pick out a nice steak or some veggies, go home and cook them up. Thirty or 40 minutes of preparation, 10 minutes of eating.
It felt very disproportionate. Cooking for one person just isn't that fun it turns out. Besides the unsatisfying ratio of prep time versus eating time, there's also no one there to brag on how well you did. No one there to tell you how succulent your pork was. No one there to tell you that if they eat one more enchilada, they may throw up. Cooking for one sucks.
So with eating out every night being too expensive and cooking for one being less than fulfilling, the single man is left with one option: the "not-a-meal."
The not-a-meal is exactly what the name applies. It's something that isn't a meal. Not a real one, anyway. It's a Hot Pocket. It's a bag of carrots. It's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Eating a not-a-meal is like marrying someone out of loneliness: You do it because you don't like the alternative, but secretly inside, you hate yourself for it.
While I'm still technically a single man in the sense that I'm not married, I have been dating a girl for over a year now. So, the single man's dilemma at dinner time isn't something I have to deal with very often anymore - Mostly because I can now cook for two people instead of one. Cooking for two people is infinitely more satisfying than cooking for one.
When I was still in the process of wooing my girlfriend, I decided to cook for her. I thought that most women would find a man who can cook almost irresistIble. I also thought most women would find a man with six-pack abs almost irresistible, but that was going to be too much work, so I decided to stick with cooking.
Months later, having successfully wooed said girlfriend, I continue to cook for her every chance I get. I really like to cook for other people. It's probably a performance thing, where I just like for people to tell me they liked what I prepared. I tend to like to be told I'm good at stuff. It's very annoying.
The real benefit, though, beyond the stroking of my out-of-control ego, is getting to sit down at a table with someone and share a meal. My family ate together seven nights a week growing up. Most of those nights we'd eat at the dinner table, only pulling out the TV trays on Saturday or Sunday nights when setting the table required more effort than any of us wanted to exert.
And most of those nights, my mom would cook. I think that's probably why I like cooking a meal and sitting down to eat it with my girlfriend. Eating a box of Wheat Thins by myself just can't compare to a childhood spent around a dinner table eating home-cooked meals.
So here's to all the single men out there, scouring the phonebook for the closest Domino's or boiling a pot of water for one more night of ramen noodles. Remember them as you ask your wife to pass you the potatoes. It's cold standing there alone in the frozen foods section.
Colder than you'll ever know.
Patrick Drury can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. Patrick recently published his first book, “PatchWorks Volume One,” a collection of his columns. To purchase the book, visit http://www.cafepress.com/patchworks.54813581