Our house has been a bit of a hotel recently, which is why it feels like I've disappeared off the face of the earth. In the last week, we've had my parents, my sister, and Sean's brother staying with us—staggered mostly, with only minimal comedic overlap—and next week we have my brother, followed two weeks later by my other brother (plus two friends, one of them apparently so good-looking that his nickname is "Catwalk," I mean I'm a married lady and all but STILL). I have made up a lot of sofa beds lately, is what I'm saying. I have placed a lot of carefully folded towels at the foot.
But I love it really, love the company and the camaraderie that comes from having houseguests. When my parents stay, it means I don't have to cook for a week and my freezer gets magically stocked with shepherds pie and macaroni & cheese with bacon, for some as-yet-unknown day in the future when my mother intuits that I'll need a healthy dose of home-cooking, "healthy" not exactly being the most appropriate word in this case. (MACARONI & CHEESE WITH BACON. Oh right, we covered that.)
When my sister stays, my life turns into one long episode of whatever 90s sitcom featured girls applying mud masks in their pajamas while eating Dunkaroos and making prank calls to boys. Not that anyone can actually make prank calls anymore—you may be able to take a picture, order a pizza, and play an album from your cell phone, but it doesn't seem best suited for asking people whether their refrigerator is running, maybe because that kind of thing just requires a cord to twirl mischieviously around your finger while you do it—but you get the picture: when she's here, we spike our hot chocolate with Baileys and borrow each other's clothes and have long, uninterrupted My So-Called Life marathons during which nobody minds if the other speaks the most poignant lines out loud along with Angela Chase.
When Sean's brother is here, I barely see him. (Sean, I mean, although I barely see his brother either. That would be kind of weird if Sean just disappeared and left me with him.) This is because they go to baseball games together with the resolute passion and determinedness that other people use....well, to play baseball, I guess. They were out every night last week, and both weekend days as well, and this meant that I spent quite a lot of time on my own. Now, I don't mind spending time on my own—I rather relish it, in fact; I quite like my own company, mostly because I am a pretty lax host and mostly just encourage the people I'm hanging out with to watch TV, which works out well when I'm the only person I'm hanging out with ("another episode of House Hunters, Holly?" "well, Holly, don't mind if I do")—but I do have to say that I have one particularly favorite part and it is this: the single lady's dinner.
Do you have a single lady's dinner? This is the dinner you eat when you realize—perhaps with a little frisson of excitment and a jaunty fistpump, you wouldn't be the first—that you only have to feed yourself that night: no partner or kids or imaginary authority figure who'll tsk impatiently at the lack of betacarotene on your plate. My single lady's dinner is made up of many tiny snacks—cheese, crackers, hummus, cornichons, blueberries, that kind of thing—and it looks a little bit like this:
Ah, perfection. And Instagrammed to within an inch of its life, too! (Did I eat this in 1967? We'll never know!)
So tell me, then: what do you eat when there's no-one else around to judge?