The other day Jezebel ran an article asking if the combo pack of Arbor Mist Strawberry White Zin and single-serving of Chips Ahoy! was an even sadder meal than a microwave brownie for one. I was really confused by the question because both of those meals actually sound amazing and I don't even drink Strawberry White Zin unless it's a day that ends in "y."
I was like "They want sad meals? I've GOT sad meals."
I mean, I'm a single chick who lives alone. And while, yes, that gives me the upper hand on never ever having to share, it also lends itself to some depressing scenarios, like the other day when I found myself eating Special K and yogurt and blueberries while watching football. Not nachos. Not chips and dip. Special f-ing K and yogurt. Because that's all I had in the house. (Lest you think it was for something weird like health reasons.)
The fact of the matter is, most of my meals are probably what the general population would categorize as "sad," if not all out "pathetic." But don't worry. I've got so many excuses as to why that is.
- I’m eating alone. Try to explain the point in slaving over the stove for an hour to make something I’m going to eat in five minutes while watching “Pretty Little Liars?” Does it matter what I'm putting in my mouth? No. All that matters is (spoiler alert) if Ezra is really "A."
- Confession time. Even if I were able to drag myself away from ABC Family programming, it wouldn't matter because... I don’t cook. Like: at all. Unless brownies from the box count as cooking, but I’m pretty sure that’s baking and… yummmmm…. Brownies from the box.
- Brownies aside (never), I probably don’t cook because I’m single. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a grocery store, but unless you live in Manhattan, you’ve probably noticed that everything they sell is for people who are either going to a.) feed more than one person or b.) eat that one thing and just that one thing for an entire week. Sorry, but I'm not going to make lasagna and then have to eat lasagna every day for the rest of the week (although now that I've typed that I am wondering why). Fact: The only foods that come in single-size servings are things like apples and peaches, mini frozen pizzas, and entire bottles of wine. (You can try to argue, but unless you add pints of ice cream, I likely won't hear you.)
- Speaking of grocery stores…I hate them. Going to the grocery store is literally the dumbest chore in the whole wide world, topped only by getting gasoline for your car. And bathing.
- As a result, more meals than I care to count consist of chicken fried rice. Out of the container. And cold.
Now this is not to say that all of my alone meals are totally depressing. The other night I had chicken liver pate on rustic crackers as my main course. Many nights, what's for dinner is cheese! Some nights it's Goldfish crackers. Or an arugula salad (which is oddly something I get very excited for). And I'll be honest: Once in a while I just have cookies. BECAUSE I CAN.
But that's not the point. The point, my friends, is sad meals that make you even sadder when you remember them. And of those, I have three that are battling out for top spot.
1. My 1st Meal at Reform School
It was close to 7 p.m. by the time I ate. I’d been whisked away from one school by my mother at 6 a.m., arrived at the reform school after lunch, and spent the next five or six hours figuring out that I now lived in a building with alarms on the doors and wasn't allowed to have shoes because they thought I would "run."
The school was located in a wing of a functioning Holiday Inn (don't ask because there is no rational answer) and so when dinnertime arrived, we walked down a long hallway single-file to the hotel restaurant. Everyone had to sit and be completely quiet in order to have her table called to go up and get food. I knew no one, but some girls who’d been their a while and were in the ass-kissing phase of the program invited me to sit with them.
Finally, when they called our table, I followed the girls to the buffet line, my socked-feet padding along the cold dining room tile, my hair hiding my red-eyes and tear-splotched face from prying eyes. I don't remember what was being served that night; I just remember all I took was a pile of white rice. Your appetite kind of goes when you've just been abandoned at a reform school.
I returned to the table and pushed the rice around my plate while the girls asked me questions I didn’t want to answer. Finally, the noise in the dining room grew too loud and the head counselor screamed “QUIET!” We weren’t allowed to speak again without risking demerits. I was the only one in the room who felt relief.
2. Thanksgiving My Freshman Year in College
My mom kicked me out of the house six months before I left for NYU, so I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t offer to fly me home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Nor did I really think twice about it when all of my new friends left one by one until I was one of the only people left in my 700-person dorm.
What I didn’t plan for was the fact that eventually I was going to get hungry and had nothing to eat. I was 17 and a half and pretty (very) shy. The idea of going to buy food on Thanksgiving -- of letting other people know I was all alone -- was totally overwhelming. I tried to wait out the hunger, but finally it was too much. I walked to a deli -- not the one I usually went to; I couldn’t take the humiliation -- and bought a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and a coke. I ate alone on my bed and then did whippets until I fell asleep.
3. My First Christmas After Graduating College
I started working the Monday after I graduated, but on a 21-year-old-I-don’t-quite-get-finances whim, I quit my job as a receptionist right before Christmas. Without actually finding another job first. I had no idea how much I’d miss that $425/week paycheck until it stopped coming in altogether.
At least, I thought, I’d be going home soon and seeing all of my friends in San Francisco. That is until my mother informed me that since I didn’t have a job, she wasn’t going to pay to fly me home for the holidays. Not because she couldn't afford it, but because I didn’t deserve it.
I got a job at Urban Outfitters as a temporary holiday sales girl and worked until midnight on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, I woke up feeling totally alone. It wasn’t my first Christmas alone from my family -- I’d already had a few of those -- one in reform school and another in college when my mother didn’t invite me on the family trip to Mexico -- but this one is the one I really remember. No one said Merry Christmas to me. Not even the guy who delivered the bacon cheeseburger I ate for Christmas Dinner.
Anyway, enough of this pity (dinner) party because I know I’m not alone in this. We eat 2-3 meals a day. A few of them are bound to be a huge disappointment. What I want to know is: Which meal in your life was the saddest and why? Who were you with? What did you eat? And why do you remember it so well?
As for me… I’m off to order dinner. Anyone want to share some egg rolls?