The first time I made him breakfast he delicately removed the crusts from his perfectly toasted toast and pushed them the side of the plate. After already being scolded for how I made his hot cocoa, I decided to venture a query. __________________________________________________________________ When my grandma met Cosby Sweater, she mused the 25-year-old was still attached to his mother’s apron strings. Sure, Mommy’s bookcase was loaded with titles like, “What to do When Your Child is a Genius” and “Gifted: Raising a Genius Child.” She may have even been suffering from “knight in shining armor syndrome” after Cosby Sweater rescued her from the dragon of his father by calling the cops during a dispute. Sure, he was a mama’s boy, but I NEVER would have said he was attached to her apron strings. (That would be blasphemous, even if it was true.) In my early twenties I understood the financial benefits of living at home after graduating college, but Cosby Sweater still acted like a pre-adolescent. It was incomprehensible he was deemed ready for a new chapter of life. I did what was expected. He expected me to treat him the way his mom did: Like a child. I laugh, now. When you’re young (and sometimes past young) you think you’re supposed to be the caregiver. I admit, it took some time to learn this. Eventually, my friends made me get a cat to focus my giving energy. But, in my junior year of college I thought this was acceptable. Lacking dating experience, I thought it was acceptable to spend as much of your free time with your significant other as possible. After Friday dinner with friends, I often left Boston. Spending the weekend at Mommy’s house was easier than sharing a narrow dorm bed. Plus, my roommate would appreciate it; she and her boyfriend had the room to themselves. I was a diligent packer: homework, clothes, contact lens solution, toothbrush… One Fall visit, while getting ready for bed, I realized I forgot to pack a key component: Something to sleep in. Shoot. Mommy, being generous offered to lend a nightgown. I didn’t like the idea of sleeping in someone else’s pajamas, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. (Besides, what choice did I have?) She led me to her secondary dresser— It was brimming with floor-length nightgowns. I could have my pick. I wanted a career in theater/entertainment for most of my life. By the time I was twenty I had read Oedipus Rex half-a-dozen times. This is seriously screwed up. Despite their dynamic, Mommy was no dummy. I chose a heather grey, long-sleeve, flannel number. It had a white lace bib with little lace cuffs. New England is chilly for at least six months of the year and the nightgown was so warm and comfortable, I never considered bringing my own sleepwear again and Cosby Sweater never asked me to. (Point for mom.) Looking back on it, I’m sure this was due to a passive-aggressive rationale: “If I lend her a nightgown, it’ll be like a chastity belt, and my son won’t touch her.” She was wrong. Point for me. I’d stay in the nightgown through breakfast. I love Saturday breakfast. Since I was a morning person, I’d wake up, have coffee and do homework while Cosby Sweater slept. Several hours later, I would nudge him awake. I started my second cup of coffee and made him hot cocoa Can you make hot cocoa wrong? I found a way. Apparently my hot cocoa making skills were so poor, he found it necessary to “edumacate” me how to properly mix Swiss Miss Cocoa. “First empty powder into the mug. Then slowly add some milk while mixing. When you have a syrup, that’s when you add the hot water from the tea kettle. Mix constantly.” (I was not allowed to microwave the water; it had to come from the duck teak kettle. Even with his very specific directions, I still couldn’t get the hot cocoa right, the way Mommy made it. After sustaining multiple critiques during our early dating, eventually I gave up and let him make the hot cocoa himself. While not wanting criticism, I reasoned this was a good way for him to participate in the breakfast making process— It was so domestic to be cooking together! Saturday breakfast was usually some kind of eggs and toast. The first time I made him breakfast he delicately removed the crusts from his perfectly toasted toast and pushed them the side of the plate. After already being scolded for how I made his hot cocoa, I decided to venture a query. “Why don’t you eat your crusts?” I don’t east crusts. “How can it be crusty? It’s Wonder Bread” I was perturbed, but lacked experience dealing with man-child behavior, so I didn’t push a change. I added it in his Idiosyncrasies List. Today, if I dated a man with this quirk, and I cared about him enough, I’d ridicule and tease him until he learned to eat his crusts. If he has other “quirks,” that are equally annoying or worse, I’d break it off. But, I was in my early twenties, so I ate Cosby Sweater’s crusts. I’m not sure how many pounds I gained from this practice. Lunch was also on Wonder Bread. Even with all her errands, Mommy would come back for lunch. One day she used the opportunity to teach me her famous Crust-less Grilled Cheese. Between her nightgown and the new recipe, she was turning me into a version of herself. A new version of me that would be more appropriate for her son. Her brother died from a heart attack at the age of 45, so she made grilled cheese in the toaster oven. Trying to keep lunch heart healthy, it’s still a mystery why she buttered both sides of the bread. This near Ivy-League educated woman seemed to think toasting the sandwich was healthier than frying it. It would be healthier IF the sandwich were simply toasted, but with buttered bread, the sandwich still had the saturated fat just as if she fried it. I didn’t want over-step. I was determined to learn this family recipe. She pre-heated the toaster oven while delicately cutting the crusts off the sandwiches. She put the sandwich on the tray, toasted it and when it was perfectly golden, she flipped it. When the sandwich was done, she removed it from the toaster oven, cut in quarters and served it. (Yes, the 25-year-old-man-child wanted his crusts cut off and sandwiches quartered.) Unlike my toast, Cosby Sweater ate the whole sandwich.
Somehow I compartmentalized these behaviors. I didn’t see the cumulative affect they were having on me, our relationship, or my waist. I’m seriously glad that I don’t have to deal with his crust-less lifestyle any longer, and Heaven help me if I date another man that drinks hot cocoa on a semi-regular basis. I’ll tell you this much, I won’t stick around long enough to try out a breakfast recipe. MY HEALTHY GRILLED CHEESE INGREDIENTS: Bread Cheese STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONS: Preheat your toaster oven/oven to 250°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. (If you’re using a full-size oven, line sheet tray with parchment paper.) Lay out your favorite bread. Add cheese. Top with another layer of bread. Bake. When you have reached desired toast color, carefully flip. Resume toasting. When it’s done, take it out. Let it rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Cut to desired size. (I promise I won’t ridicule you if you quarter it.) ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Not only did Mommy inspire me to incorporate a healthy baked grilled cheese into my life, I have found the toaster oven method is ideal for grilled cheese and tomato as you can get the cheese to melt more slowly without burning the bread.