I was clipping coupons the other morning, and I came across a $1.00-off 5 boxes of Hamburger Helper. This is a really good deal because they've been marked down to just ninety cents a box, and there is also a store coupon that we can use to double stack on the deal. I'm pretty sure the store coupon is for a $1.50-off/5 boxes which would make it just forty cents a box, and if we don't get a leg up on this deal now, we'll be left with all the gross flavors at the store.
Like Beef Stoganoff.
But OK, let me be more specific, the Hamburger Helper coupon reminded me of all the nights you used to cook dinner for just me and you. Your son was already grown up and out of the house, and Mom didn't eat American food, so at least six nights out of the seven, it was just us at the dinner table.
Remember when we used to have to fend for ourselves like that back then? Or, rather, when you had to fend for the both of us because I wasn't tall enough to reach the microwave until I was 14. Those were the days. Now that I'm trying to do the whole dinner thing in my own kitchen (where I can reach all the appliances...) I keep thinking about the dinner culture at our house.
I always appreciated the fact that dinner wasn't at a set time. Like, ever. We ate when we were hungry, and if that was around dinner time, then so be it. I also liked the fact that dinner was up to us based on our mood. Spaghetti? No? OK, how about sandwiches? Cool.
(But damn, Dad, did you really need to add green peas to EVERYTHING? I haven't eaten those since I moved out. Seriously.)
When I would go over to one of my friend's houses, I would always be thrown off by their so-called "dinner times."
You mean, dinner is at a specified time every night?
Yeah. My mom never misses a meal.
And that is when you must eat dinner?
Yeah. It's dinner time.
But what if you're not hungry?
But it's time for dinner.
What if you don't want tuna casserole?
But that's what's for dinner.
Why don't I have a choice? What are you, the Crazy Dinner Gestapo?!
I don't think you can come over anymore.
Not only did it feel like I was intruding on some awkward scheduled family time, but these people never seemed to have cookies in the pantry. Freaks.
I know family magazines and child rearing books and parenty-type people go on and on about the benefits of family dinners made from wholesome, natural foods and using that time to bond and decompress and yadda yadda, but that's just not how we roll in our clan.
Word up to my sistahs and bruthas.
Except I only have one brother, and he is as white as a box of baking soda.
But anyway, I get it now. I don't know how you managed to come home after 12+ hours at work and cook us Hamburger Helper on the stove without burning it to pieces. How did you even remember to defrost the hamburger that morning? I always forget to do that shit, and I have to defrost it in the microwave like a rookie every time.
I also really appreciated the fact that you didn't care if I didn't eat dinner because I was a colicky kid, and sometimes, I didn't feel like eating dinner. Now, here I am, night after night, forcing myself to eat dinner at my own house when I'm not feeling it and wondering what is my problem? Why I can't I be chill like my dad and NOT force feed this meal into my stomach?
It's funny, you know, when I first got to college, I was so pumped to be out of the house. I was like "WOO! IMMA MAKE MAH OWN RULEZ!" but then that feeling disappeared when I went to the main campus cafeteria at 8:30pm to find out it was closed because I'm only allowed to eat dinner from 5 to 7pm here in this Dinner Gestapo from HELL.
Then I went back to my stupid little dorm and my drug-addicted roommate (Remember her? I lived with her for about 2 months. That was interesting.) would be making pot brownies in our microwave, and I was starving because my dad wasn't around to heat up some Hamburger Helper with me.
I never told you that I missed those days because I wanted to (and still want to) seem cool and independent, and while I am cool and independent, I still miss eating dinner with you whenever we felt like eating dinner.
Good times, homie.