In between the laughter: Part Deux

I'm fifteen chapters in on Baby F(ph)at, and just now figuring out that snarky isn't gonna carry the manuscript through to the end without the deeper stuff to balance it all out. Here's a little piece of me and my book that was born from an intense online chat with my writing buddy, Juliette.

Thanks, lady. You've earned your spot in the acknowledgements if/when this little dream turns into a new kind of reality. 

***

“So what’s for dinner?” my mom asks when I huff and puff my way into the kitchen with about five too many grocery bags full of too much food hooked on both arms. “Never mind,” she says. “We can figure that out after unloading.”

Sure, mom. “We” can figure that out when “I” make up my mind. About that…

Out loud, I only say, “I honestly have no idea. It’s already 5:30 and it’s way too late to start anything that will cook fast enough for Buttercup before she throws a tantrum. Grilled cheese for her and then I figure the rest out?”

My mom nods as she arranges the food in the pantry and fridge. “That’s fine. I need a half hour before I can eat anyway.” She’s referring to her acid reflux medication. After one too many trips to the emergency room for not taking the extent of her condition seriously after she was first diagnosed, she’s become religious about her meds and avoiding every single food that could possibly set her stomach off.

Chocolate, carbonated drinks, anything acidic (pineapples, oranges,), something about bananas, and God knows what else are all off limits. But for some reason, pina coladas, fruit punch (there’s a picture of a pineapple on that jug, too, right?) and white chocolate are on Mom’s self-approved list. And so was sparkling apple cider on New Year’s Eve.

It was amusing to watch my Dad silently roll his eyes when Mom would bend her food rules on totally contradictory items because the world was just a happier place that way, but living with it is another thing entirely.

“What are you in the mood for?” Mom asks me. I’m standing in front of the open pantry, staring blankly at the full shelves and completely in shock that, once again, I have no single option that will make everyone happy.

Now that Buttercup’s happily chowing on a half-grilled cheese, diced apples, and Greek yogurt, I could fire up the grill…but we had steak yesterday, the chicken breasts are frozen solid, and the diabetic-friendly minestrone soup I pulled out to defrost is not safe for mom because of the tomato.

“I’ve got no idea,” I grumble.

I could go for some polenta and shrimp, but the last time I made that Pati ate the shrimp and threw away the rest of the meal, so I’m not wasting time on that one. Healthy and low-carb, combined with gluten-free, kind of takes the fun out of a lot of meals for those not having to follow the respective diets, so 90 percent of what I used to cook is now on the no-no list if I expect everyone to sit down and eat the same meal.

“Forget it,” I sigh, closing the pantry. “I’m nuking a lean pocket. What are you in the mood for? I can boil you some water and make you some of that ravioli with alfredo sauce?”

There, dinner’s done.