My refrigerator is where the best of intentions go to die.
It works like this. My wife always calls me back whenever I steer the grocery cart past the produce section.
“We need to eat better,” she says.
“You always say that,” I complain, “ and every week we toss out spoiled fruit and rotten vegetables.”
She frowns because she hates to waste food. “All the more reason to eat what we buy,” she says.
“Have you ever seen me waste a Dorito?” I ask.
She shudders at the thought of me wrestling the dog for a dropped chip.
“We need to eat better,” she repeats. And that is that.
At least in my opinion, the best of intentions should be left as no more than intentions. Forcing ourselves to do what we do not want to do wears the word ‘best’ right off the word ‘intention’. It destroys our willingness to repeat the experience. So to preserve intentions as their best, we must never put them at risk.
Especially when we are talking about fruits and vegetables.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional apple, orange or banana but I never developed the habit of eating them regularly, so they rot in the refrigerator.
The thing is, I also hate to see food go to waste and it is this tension between eating what I am not willing to eat and the unwillingness to waste that my wife hopes to exploit.
So whenever I open the refrigerator, I must confront the withering gaze of a puckered orange or the contemptuous squint of an over-ripe apple. It is a terrible burden to bear and while guilt may guide me to a healthier place, it is not healthy to be stressed by it.
So whenever my wife goes out of town, I take a long vacation from reproach. I buy a couple of cases of beer and stock up on salsa and chips. If I feel like eating healthy, I supplement my usual fare with a big crock of pickled herring or a fat tube of summer sausage just to make sure I get my vitamins.
Before her last trip, she asked me, “Why don’t you feast on carrots rather than chips?”
“I prefer chips,” I said.
“You should avoid the sodium.”
Of course she was right – so I resolved to put a salt-free week on my best of intentions list.
“I watched you chow down on the veggie tray at the wedding last week,” she said “so I picked up a few things at the store.”
She directed me to look in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator, where I was confronted by several bundles of celery, a couple bags of mini-carrots and numerous heads of broccoli and cauliflower
“You can make your own veggie tray,” she said.
So that is what I did – but I found it less than satisfying. I recalled feasting on vegetables at the wedding but something was missing. What could it be?
So I raced to the store and frantically wheeled my cart toward the freezers where I discovered a cornucopia of dip. I bought dill dip, jalapeno dip, sesame sweet potato dip, pumpkin seed dip, avocado-anchovy dip and a big plastic container of french onion dip as a back-up in case I ran out of the exotics.
Oooooooh, that was so good.
“OMG!” she said upon her return, “do you know how unhealthy that dip is?”
“Hey,” I said, “I was eating carrots.”
She wasn’t buying it. “This,” she said, aiming a container at the trash, “will stop your heart.”
“Hey,” I said, “waste not, want not….”
She wasn’t buying that either.