I'm so out of touch with the singles scene that I say things like "the singles scene." I've been with my wife for nearly 10 years now, and I have completely forgotten what it was like to be without her. It's been so long, in fact, that the blurry beer goggles of nostalgia occasionally creep up on me, making me wistfully look back on my single days as something less than completely awful. Recently, however, my wife and I have had to live apart for a few months for employment reasons, and it has become increasingly apparent that nostalgia is a lying sack of shit. Because I sure as hell didn't miss ...
My wife and I have the same deal most married couples have: She cooks, I clean. I'm not inept at cooking or anything -- if she doesn't feel up to it, I'll still make us dinner. I've learned how to take care of myself almost as well as a real adult, so it's been many years since I've ruined a pot of pasta irretrievably and been forced to shame-march into the nearest Taco Bell. But literally the day after my wife left, my brain looked around, made sure the coast was clear and screamed "She's gone, fellas!" and all of my terrible, stoned-college-kid priorities came streaming out of the closets where they'd been hiding this whole time. Never mind that I objectively know how to make a bitchin' frittata, and that my steaks bring vegans to their knees (I shouldn't brag -- a few swift kicks will do it; the lack of protein makes their joints almost comically brittle). The second my wife closed that door, all vegetables turned to ashes in my mouth and my hands forgot how to work human utensils. For the first few days, I tried to hold on to some semblance of normalcy and bought a few of those perpetually wet bags of precooked chicken from the grocery store ...
Looks good! Now, can you seal it in plastic and throw it in a hot shower for a few hours?
But a man cannot live on swamp-chicken alone. Normally I'd do what all men do in this scenario: turn exclusively to fast food, flip my toilet the bird and start mixing Pepto into my Scotch (I call it Potch, and it is as delicious as it is soothing). But drive-thru isn't an option for me, because my only vehicle is a motorcycle. No matter how politely you ask, Wendy's employees are almost universally unwilling to "JUST STUFF THE BURGER INTO THE FUCKING HELMET HOLE." So now the horrible, lazy, utilitarian monster inside of me is cooking weekly mass meals and eating them out of their storage containers -- just like I did when I was single.
PROTIP: If you ever get tired of your Sad Man's Rations, you can just take the lids off two containers and mash them together!
You know what this would probably go good with? Whatever's in the blue thing that's been sitting in the fridge for two weeks!
Sometimes you wind up with a nice surprise, like that time I tossed a homemade hot sauce bowl together with the diced chicken bucket and ended up with something like Buffalo Wings Cereal. Other experiments are less successful, like the time I threw the leftover coconut cream from last week's curry into a bowl of fudge and wound up with a Magic Bullet container full of what I'm going to call Mockery Milkshake. That's what really separates the genders: A woman might do something that gross and stupid, sure, but she'll throw away the resulting foodbortion and try again. A man will be damned if he's going to let the food win, so he's going to choke that shit down on principle. You toss some bourbon into that failure shake and you settle down to a nice trough of chicken remnants, fella: The appliances can sense weakness. If you let the oven win tonight, tomorrow the washing machine will turn on you.
I don't want to foster any stupid sitcom stereotypes: Men are not helpless beasts floundering about in the mud without their womenfolk. My wife doesn't nag me to do chores or tell me to put on pants (nobody fucking tells me to put on pants) -- it's just that the mere presence of another human being in my life who might potentially judge me is apparently the only thing that keeps me from completely violating the Social Contract and living like a savage fucking ape with a Netflix queue. And now the Keeper of the Contract has gone, so ...
All 52 seasons of Wings, you say? Why, that does sound marginally better than eating my own feces, thank you!
... I have become a savage fucking ape with a Netflix queue. It's no secret that I love shitty movies and television. I'm not sorry for that. The wife, for her part, will always tolerate one or two terrible pieces of entertainment a night, because she knows that I am strong, and could overpower her. But eventually she'll insist that we turn off Kevin Sorbo's masterwork, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and like, go for a walk or some bullshit. But now, without the censoring influence of another rational human being in my personal space, I am free to hit rock bottom. Sure, I kept some standards up at first -- I'd only watch Drive Angry two, maybe three times a night, and I'd be sure to take at least an hour break in between three-hour blocks of Sliders -- but now it's over: I can no longer deny that I have a problem.
I watched Battleship last night. All of it. And I did it on purpose. I know one of the 12 Steps is making amends, but answer me this: How can you ever properly apologize to yourself for that kind of thing?
For some sins, there simply can be no forgiveness. This will follow me until the day I die, and beyond. When I'm rooming with Hitler in hell and he asks what I did to deserve my fate, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to make something up. I'm going to tell him that I ate an orphanage, just so I don't have to see the disgust in his beady little Hitler eyes.