The other evening, my husband went into town to attend a hockey game at B.U. This meant that my teenage daughter and I were on our own for dinner.
Whenever this happens, we take advantage of it. We plan a menu that wouldn't — shall we say — cut the mustard with her father. He's a self-taught gourmet cook who would rather grill fish and sauté fresh vegetables. Sometimes we just want ramen noodles. But most often, our alone-together meals revolve around a very important food group.
My daughter looks a lot like me. She inherited my natural reserve in social situations. My appreciation for musical theatre. And my love of cheese.
I was wrapping up my work week and my daughter was looking forward to a driving lesson with my sister-in-law (yours truly is no longer attempting to teach after the first and only time I went out with her and she almost hit a parked car and I almost had a heart attack). We had several jars of homemade salsa in the house, so I suggested a simple and appropriately cheesy menu: "Nachos."
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and moms ...
I had pulled out a large cookie sheet and lined it with foil, spread tortilla chips on the bottom, then layered the salsa, some nice rotisserie chicken, some roasted corn, chopped scallions, and, of course, the cheese, lots and lots of cheese. Then, I preheated the oven and waited for my girl. It was dark and even with her cool-headed aunt, I knew she wouldn't be driving around too much longer.
Sure enough, I heard someone out on the patio. I opened the back door, expecting to see the young driver, but found two of her besties instead. They were wandering around town delivering cupcakes. (It occurs to me that if your teenagers must wander around town, delivering cupcakes is probably not the worst thing they could be doing.) They left a particularly gooey green one and were on their way. My daughter missed them by about five minutes.
I don't remember any of my friends making cupcake rounds when I was sixteen. But if they had, and if I had missed them, I would have been out of luck. Thank heavens my daughter is growing up in the enlightened age of digital mobile technology! A few texts, a quick call, and off she went to join them.
"Be back at 7:30," I told her.
"8:30," she responded.
I know, I know. My negotiation skills — not to mention my authority — are quite impressive, n'est-ce pas?
To her credit, my daughter was only seven minutes late. The nachos were bubbling and smelled wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that my daughter's two friends couldn't resist them either and came on in. I'm not sure whether they had already eaten, but since when does that stop a teenager when there is junk food to be had?
"All right, all right," I said, and added another place setting. I poured three glasses of water and put the tray of nachos in the center of the table. "Be careful, they're hot."
At this point in my story, I'll try to paint a moving picture for you. Have you ever watched a nature program in which a pride of lions takes down some unfortunate antelope? Or watched a cartoon in which termites eat an entire house? Or seen a school of piranhas in the Amazon? Or the movie The Birds? Well, my flock of starving adolescents made very quick work of those nachos.
"Thanks, Mom!" all three of my satiated diners called playfully from the dining room. There were a few soggy chips left, which I happily beagled as I cleaned up. Although the evening hadn't turned out exactly as I planned, it was all good. My stomach was empty but my heart was full.
Our guests headed home and my daughter went upstairs to attack AP World History and A Tale of Two Cities. As so often happens these days, I went blissfully to sleep while she was still doing homework.
Sweet dreams are made of cheese.
If you enjoyed this post, order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.