I had a little trouble at lunch today. Not like, felony trouble, or anything, but something almost as serious. Simply put, I had trouble deciding what to eat. Honestly, it wasn’t even about a particular food item, either. Rather, it was about style.
As with most people, I typically have two options for lunch: there’s food on hand, and then there is eating out. When it comes to what’s on hand, because I don’t work from home, my options are slightly more limited than they could be. It’s not like my company’s going to put in a full oven and gas range so I can whip up a homemade pot of five-alarm chili and a loaf of crusty sourdough. No, I’ve got a four-slot toaster that likely violates fire code anywhere besides rural Mexico, and a dorm-sized microwave that reaches its full 500-watt potential only when it’s most likely to blow the circuit, such as when there’s a high-level meeting in the adjacent conference room.
Given those heating options, lunch is therefore largely restricted to frozen microwaveable goods or the remnants of dinners past. Between you and me, I’d rather gnaw on an old shoe than eat a frozen microwave meal. Sure, there are some frozen goods that I find acceptable; burritos, pocket sandwiches, etc, are alright, usually, but I’m running away from anything with a sauce like a four-year old from a brussel sprout. Frozen-and-nuked marinara becomes a watery mess that turns my stomach just looking at it.
Admittedly, I’m usually fine with reheating last night’s dinner, but sometimes you find yourself contemplating that beef stew the next day and it’s just too much to eat it again. And once you start ignoring leftovers, the likelihood that you’ll ever actually eat them decreases geometrically with each passing day. Eventually, after you leave it in the back of the fridge for a few weeks or months, it becomes a haven for errant microbes. Pretty soon, whole bacterial gangs are thriving in that innocuous plastic container, silently plotting to take control of the world with nothing but threats, a grey, sludgy appearance, and a horribly putrid stench.
I had no leftover options this afternoon. We actually have fewer and fewer leftovers nowadays, as the kids are getting older. That’s a good thing, though, really, because, well, I’m frankly afraid of leftovers after that previous paragraph. However, because I’m a budget-conscious individual these days, and could also stand to lose a little of the, um, flexibility, that seems to have developed around my midsection, I tend to keep a box or two of Lean Pockets in the freezer. And today, I knew I should really eat them. But I was cold. I wanted something warm, something comforting and really tasty, something I would remember fondly for a few days. Perhaps some Chinese soup, a cheesesteak, or a spicy burrito the size of my forearm.
But the voice in my head that tells me not to be a jerk, which is too quiet at the important times and then irritatingly loud at all the wrong ones, insisted that I eat my Lean Pockets.
And well, it was pretty cold outside. Going out to get something would mean freezing the acorns pretty solid. Nobody wanted that.
So I talked myself into staying in and did the Right Thing. Unfortunately the Lean Pockets resembled paper towel tubes in both texture and flavor. Normally, that isn’t the case, but for some reason it was today. It probably didn’t help that the meatball/pepperoni filling that was supposed to be found within was apparently nabbed by some nefarious frozen pocket-sandwich-filling master criminal.
If you’re out there, Meatball Mastermind, I’ll pay whatever ransom you want. Just please, give me my fillings back, unharmed.
Perhaps I could trade you some frozen penne marinara for it? I wasn’t going to eat it anyway.