I've been wanting to eat healthier, but it is so very difficult with Glen around. He does not abide by this philosophy, at all. A couple of weeks ago, I made an eggplant dish with a salad, and that night, Glen issued a proclamation.
"I've been feeling off lately, and I think there's something missing from my diet." He stroked his beard, and looked toward the ceiling fan. He has been cranky lately, but I assumed it was just the stress of work, coupled with life with an energetic toddler who does not need to sleep. But, I didn't want to bring that up again.
So, I said, "What do you think you're missing? We have some multivitamins if you want to start taking them."
"No, no," He dismissed. He took a lackluster bite of his eggplant, and then put some more ranch dressing on his salad, and took a bite of that. He chewed thoughtfully, and then declared:
I know what's missing from my diet! We need more meat!"
I found his meat proclamation simultaneously hilarious and also borderlilne annoying. I worked hard to make a delicious eggplant dish, and it was my first attempt to eat a bit better, since meat is — despite what Glen says — a prominent player in our diets. The thing of it is, it's probably not the meat of his youth: I don't do roasts, but we do eat steak and burgers and chicken and lunch meat. And, oh yeah, hot dogs. There's plenty of meat in our diet.
"What, you don't like the eggplant?" I asked, pissed off.
"Oh, it's delicious, it really is. I just feel off. Something's missing, and it's DEFINITELY meat. Can we have meat tomorrow night?"
So, since then, Glen has picked up a vast quantity of meat: steaks and ground beef, and bone-in/skin on chicken breast, and even some fish. It's now broken up into dinner-sized portions in the freezer. On Wednesday, I thought I'd do something with the chicken, and just to be forthcoming, I'll just say it right now, I made some THE best chicken of my life on that night.
On Glen's most recent Mission of More Meat shopping spree, he also picked up some buttermilk. He said it was for waffles, but I knew he was sending me a message — the message of fried chicken. So, I marinated the breasts in the buttermilk and herbs; then I dredged them in flour and spices. I let them sit, all floured up for a few minutes, and as I was pouring some oil into my pan, I caught a glimpse of the buttermilk marinade; there was enough of it left that I thought it was wasteful to just pour it down the drain. So I dipped the floured chicken breasts in the liquid again, and redredged them in the flour. I let them sit — the cooking shows say this is the first step in encouraging the coating and chicken to become a more perfect union — while I heated up the oil to fry them.
I also made some mashed potatoes, and some broccoli — my feeble attempt at healthier eating. The chicken fried up like I have never seen at home before. I was in awe, and proud, and was practically singing as I plated up the food, and the boys came to the table. Matthew climbed into his chair, and looked at the bounty, and exclaimed, "FOOD!!! FOOD!!" And my sweet boy reached for some broccoli, stuck it in his mouth, and proclaimed, "Yum!" But he made his way to the potatoes, and pretty much didn't give the broccoli the time of day after that.
We don't really dress for dinner here, though some of us dress even less. Glen, in fact, had stripped down to his "at home outfit," which consists of underwear and socks. In his defense, he had been moving some heavy stuff in the garage, and the oven and stove had been on, and he's Canadian, and prone to heating up quickly in this part of the world, particularly when there are other (like the above) factors at play.
Before he got too comfortable, he peeked out our dining room window, and noted a white minivan, full of white people, parked alongside our house. He craned his neck and noticed New York plates. He snapped a picture, since white people in minivans outside our dining room window generally mean one thing: drugs.
But we've been wrong about that occasionally.
Just as soon as I sat my fat ass in my chair, drooling, for a bite of the tantalizing fried chicken, I realized I forgot to bring napkins to the table. I climbed over the baby fence into the kitchen to retrieve them, when the doorbell rang. The doorbell has been ringing a lot lately: all sorts of politicians and hopeful politicians, and mosquito people, and neighbors to let us know about block parties, and religious nuts, people dropping off campaign signs and literature, and a repairman from the Water Works, have all been by in the last 10 days or so. On any other night, it would have just been annoying. But with some absolutely perfect homecooked first-timer fried chickens before us, I was pretty livid. Luckily, the door was already open, so our dinnertime visitor could get the full-on view of Glen approaching the door in his at home outfit. I'm sure, though, the visitor had to see me, and our little boy — who, by the way, almost NEVER sits still for dinner — patiently waiting to eat, too.
"Um, hi." said a petite, young, white woman — probably a college student — with a haircut that made her look like Rowlf the Dog from the Muppet Show. "Is, um, Christine, um, Ott? at home?"
Glen, ever protective, said, "She is, but she's eating dinner right now."
Rowlf the Girl was about to politely protest, even though she could clearly see us, plates of glorious foods in front of us, waiting for Glen to return to the table so we could dig in. I was starving for chickens, and not in my right mind, and I sprung from my chair, ordered Glen to watch Matthew, and went to the door. "I'm here," I told her.
"Um, hi." She tried to look knowledgeable and dignified. She looked down at her clipboard and flipped some papers. "I'm here on behalf of Manny Segura. Do you think you'll vote for him on Tuesday?"
I was shocked, on so many levels. Who WAS this chick? Where did she come from? Did she really understand the politics here? My perfect chickens were getting cold, dammit!
She mistook the confused look on my face for ignorance about Manny, and she started to explain to me who he was. "No, no," I stopped her. "I know who Manny is. I've even met him on a few occasions." I said that because I wasn't sure she had.
"Do you think you'll vote for, um, Tony Mack?" She asked, looking at her papers.
I began to felt sick to my stomach. I did not want to think about Trenton's Choice at that particular moment. We need to make some unsavory decisions, and I just wanted some time off from thinking about it.
"I don't really like the thought of Tony Mack as mayor," I said.
She flipped her papers on her clipboard, and she said, "Can I, like, go over a list of Manny's accomplishments with you?"
"No!" I said, emphatically. My bold answer surprised her, and me; I attempted to tone it down. I said, "I'm sorry. I follow local politics, and I vote. I read. I have signs on my lawn. I'm reasonably involved civically. I usually have definite opinions on the issues here. But I'm not sold on Manny, either. I don't like my choices, and I have no idea who I'm going to vote for, and that won't change just because you stopped by tonight. It's a mess here."
Rowlf the Canvasser was one of those really pasty white girls to start with, but it seemed all the color was draining from her face. I felt badly. I was once like her, young, and skinny, and once, I even had bad hair, too, though it was a perm that made me look like Roseanne Roseannadanna; but even with the bad hair, I was hopeful, and happy for the occasional oddball summer job that involved talking to people about a cause I thought was good, but maybe I didn't know that much about it, really. She didn't know what she was getting into, and who she was working for. She thanked me for my involvement, and skittered down my front steps, and, as it turns out, to the white van with New York plates, parked outside our dining room.
I got back to the dining room table, and hunger returned and replaced any ill feelings about the election or about my behavior toward the girl. We devoured our chicken, while we watched Rowlf and her long-haired hippy dude counterpart having some kind of animated conversation — which involved flipping of pages in the clipboards and pointing to notes on those papers — in the street, near their minivan.
I'm more confused than ever now. I was deadset against Tony Mack just a few weeks ago, primarily because he can't balance a checkbook, and Trenton really needs someone who excels at that particular skill right now. It's also because Tony Mack received campaign money from a notorious and obese sex offender who allegedly abused a young girl in the late 1970s. I'm old enough to remember Rowlf the Dog, and Rosanne Rosannadanna, and I certainly remember Jo-Jo Giorgianni, and think it's icky icky icky that anyone running for public office would take money from him, and it goes to show you how little Tony Mack thinks about money. But I'm no fan of Manny, either, though I certainly appreciate his Jim Coston-infused backbone for a very brief time. There are people who criticize Manny for his heritage or his accent, and, to me, that's petty and offensive. But at the same time, I happen to be good at understanding accents, and I think foreigners are really interesting, even though they tend to be really opinionated, at least the foreigners I know (and live with). The thing about Manny is that he seems too slick, too polished, too slimy, especially lately. I hate that his money and support staff are coming from outside Trenton; and I, of all people, a Johnny-Come-Lately, have nothing against new blood. It's just that this outside interest that comes along with Manny is not new blood. It's greed and ego and power that will mean more victimization for Trenton.
Trenton's Choice is unappealing and very nearly impossible. How I wish the decision were as easy as having more meat for dinner.