A hard stare

777 words

Another, “I don’t wanna” night. I’ve been busy all weekend, just had a three-hour drive home followed by several hours of food prep, just so you know where this all came from. A really rough start, but toward the end, I was finding a bit of a groove, in case you were looking for proof that sitting down and doing the work is important. Or something. I don’t know. I’m going to have some tea now.

Tamara was pretty sure Pinterest was trying to kill her. Or at least, make her doubt her own self-worth to the point she wished she were dead. It could have been the Mason jars that put her over the edge. Or it maybe it was the “pins” (that’s what Pinterest calls them) of chocolate bourbon salted caramel cupcakes nestled right against “flat tummy in 5 days” pins that clued her in. Before Pinterest, she hadn’t realized she was doing everything wrong, from how she boiled eggs to the way she stored bananas.

But when her coworkers began bringing in matching containers of prepped-in-advance paleo-grain-free-no-sugar-food, she followed suit. And she diligently developed capsule wardrobes and invested in packing cubes and thanked items for their service before depositing them into black garbage bags.

And she was tired. She wanted to go back to grabbing a sugar-laden breakfast bar from the Starbucks on her way to work and inhaling a street taco at the food trucks at lunch. She pined for her Sundays filled with bad TV and cake made from a mix and—OH MY GOD—frosting from a can. But she didn’t choose the Pinterest life. The Pinterest life chose her.

She was thinking of all of this as she stood at her kitchen island, pouring oil ever-so-slowly into a food processor. This glop was supposed to become mayonnaise, but it wasn’t cooperating. The goal was to gently drizzle the oil into the egg yolk and lemon while mixing it, giving it a chance to emulsify. But it kept breaking; the oil stubbornly refused to get together with the egg. Pinterest had informed her if she’d had one of those stick blenders, making mayo would be a snap. But she didn’t, so instead, she stood over her Cuisinart giving her failed condiment a hard stare.

Did her mom have to deal with this? Her grandmother? Her great-grandmother? She knew her mom did, to an extent. Her mother had gone back to work after Tamara was eight, so she’d done the mom-and-career thing. But Tamara seemed to recall that meals were assembled rather than created, and tended to rely heavily on those famous culinary geniuses Chef Boyardee and Mrs. Paul. And now, everything had to be made from scratch. Anything manufactured or processed is given severe side-eye. And at all costs, one must avoid the side-eye.

Tamara leaned her elbows on the island, scrunching her face with her fists and turning her mouth into an obscene grin. She examined the bowl of the food processor. The substance inside was settling after its mastication, crawling down the sides in bile-like trails. She watched, fascinated, as it made its journey. Was she the only person left in America who actually liked Miracle Whip, she wondered?

She pulled the bowl off its motor and brought it to the sink, dousing it with a healthy stream of Dawn and flooding it with scorching water. The mixture floated up in greasy islands, and she poured it down the garbage disposal knowing that was probably not a good idea. Tamara squirted more dish soap down the disposal and flipped it on, creating an eruption of lavender-scented foam. Satisfied, she reached into the bowl to remove the blade. That’s when she cut herself.

She felt the sting across the pad of her middle finger. She held it up to her face. There was a thin white line, and she pulled it apart to see how deep it went. It separated, and blood mixed with soap to make a pink froth. It wasn’t serious; a Band-Aid would do the trick.

In the bathroom, she carefully washed the cut, dried it, and wrapped it in a beige-colored adhesive. Returning to the kitchen, she plucked the food processor bowl from the sink, walked to the side door, opened it, and hurled the bowl onto the driveway. That finished, she gathered all of her Mason jars and, one by one, flung them after the bowl. They crashed like little hipster bombs on the pavement, forever ending the myriad possibilities of overnight oats and jar salad.

Her neighbor, Joe, came outside to see what the noise was, thinking a car was being broken into. When he saw Tamara, he said nothing, and watched as jar after jar were pulverized. When she ran out of Mason jars, she followed with full jars of almond butter, tahini, and coconut oil. Neither of them said a word.

When Tamara had exhausted herself and her jars, she looked at Joe.

“Better?” he said.

“Yeah,” she said. “Much.” She paused. “Fucking Pinterest.”

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