Is it me or do men seem to get very grouchy if they are not permitted to eat at expected times? While we love them dearly and think that they are generally interesting to be around, I must say, they do not seem able to tolerate wild changes in eating habits. I learned this when I was newly married and still used to my single days and ways.
Knowing that I had a million chores to do on a Saturday, or in preparation for a houseful of guests, I would jump out of bed, into the shower and then into the car to be able to get things done. My husband would say, “what! and not eat?” Sighhhhhh. Now I’m no stranger to food believe me, but sometimes you just have to get moving and if you don’t you find that the day has gone. Whenever I acquiesced to his need to stop everything and have a full breakfast, I’d find that we were delayed by hours-you know, it takes time to sip coffee and mop up egg yolks with toast! I would have preferred to hit the mall, get what I had to get then stop at a diner, comfortable in the knowledge that my mission was accomplished.
I notice that if a meal is postponed for whatever reason, men get irritable and almost panicky. It’s as if they worry they will never eat again; despite having cabinets and pantries full of food, not to mention supermarkets and restaurants down the street. This is a man who is actually a good cook and likes to cook, mind you. I wonder if this is a throwback to the primative brain. Does an alarm go off signaling impending starvation or something?” Men help me out here.
If we were at a family gathering and I made the mistake of saying that we’d be eating “soon” that word would start an invisible stopwatch in his head. Tick tock tick tock…I would continue to chit chat and not long after the conversation would begin:
“I thought you said we were going to eat”
um, I don’t know, soon
“Well no one’s cooking”
We’re going to order from someplace
“How long is that going to be?”
I’d get a menu for him to peruse which would settle him down for the time being but the dye had been cast and dinner had better be coming soon before his stomach rumblings got the better of him.
The suggestion of food can stave them off for a bit. “I’m just going to stop at my mother’s house for like a half hour, then I’m making a nice Baked Ziti for dinner when I get home.” Oh! Ok! comes the response. But don’t wait too long or you will be faced with a crestfallen look and the pout of a 5 year old boy, with a temper to match!
It’s always when I’m fully engrossed in a book or movie that I’ll hear, “what are we going to eat.” Sighhhhh. One “trick” that has worked wonders is to put a pot on the stove and place some food on the counter when I’ve been delayed in getting to dinner that he is now expecting. Even though I haven’t chopped or sauteed a thing, seeing the pot brings hope and reassurance and me some time.
By now I’m sounding horrible aren’t I? It’s not that I don’t like to cook or that I don’t like to make him happy. It’s just that if I’m busy, I don’t care if I eat at 5pm or 7pm. I know it’s going to happen!
I learned quickly that I could not eschew my husband’s need to eat promptly because like a puppy that refuses to walk one more little padded step, he would balk at going shopping or helping out in the house before breakfast. It’s all in the delivery. If I say, “can we go to Home Depot now?” or “can you put your dirty clothes in the hamper?” The answer will invariably be no. If I say “can we get a few things done then go to a restaurant for a nice brunch, you know that place where you like the sausages?” (Never underestimate the power of pork ladies) What a transformation! He would then move heaven and earth, taking out the garbage, putting tools away, gladly driving me to several shops that he hates to go to…you get the picture. And like that same puppy, he would look at me with all the eagerness and trust his eyes could hold when he knew that our jobs were done and the time had come. When I got back in the car and said yes when he asked if we could get something to eat now, the tension could just be felt slipping away. The aforementioned irritability dissolved with each forkful of food he took and after his belly was nice and full he would be much more cheerful. I could almost make out the movement of a contentedly wagging tail.