I can’t think of what to make for dinner. It’s really bugging me. My mother lost interest in cooking dinner when I was a teenager, but by that time she’d been cooking for the family for…well, I guess around the same number of years I have.

When I think about what to make for dinner, I not only think about how it’s going to taste and whether or not the kids are going to eat it but how much time it’s going to take and how difficult it will be to clean up afterward. And with that many factors to consider, I usually end up making food that is unhealthy or that I dislike or both.

Tonight I think we will end up eating sloppy joes. I really don’t want to, but I feel like I have no choice.

It’s Thursday and Thursday is the day when Sugar Daddy doesn’t come home until after the kids have gone to bed. So it’s the day I usually feed the children unadulterated crap. This is how the term “white trash cuisine” entered my son’s vocabulary. They all know that if it’s Thursday, it must be paper plates and garbage food. Sloppy joes are actually a little gourmet for Thursday. If I don’t have a can of Manwich lying around somewhere, I may give up on the whole idea.

Remember that old commercial, “I don’t have a sandwich appetite, I have a MANWICH appetite!”? That’s what I’ve been thinking all day. Only I don’t really have a Manwich appetite. I just think it sounds like a dinner I can manage this evening.

Tangentially-related (but only barely) aside: Do you remember the old commercials where the men would feel emasculated when someone offered them lite beer? Just wondering.

Isn’t it kind of funny that all it takes is one person missing from the dinner table for me to just throw my hands up and say, “That’s it! Never mind!” Well, in fairness that one person is the one with the most discerning palate. Not that my children don’t have discerning palates, but sometimes I am embarrassed to tell SD what I fed the children for dinner. Not that I would admit that I’m embarrassed. Usually I say, “We had fish sticks, wanna make something of it?” but it’s because I’m so insecure.

I will now change the subject entirely.

I used to do book reviews a lot on this blog. That ended, I think, in 2010, when I made a New Year Resolution to read all of the books that had stacked up on my bookshelves and hadn’t been read yet. I don’t believe I read a single one of those books, and there were, like, 30 of them. Okay, I may have read one and started another, but my point stands: I failed miserably at that resolution. And it’s not that I didn’t read many books that year. I read many books. I always read many books. I just stopped talking about the books I was reading because I was so ashamed of the fact that I hadn’t read any of the books I’d pledged to read. As if you gentle readers would care. When have I ever kept any of my New Year’s resolutions (with the exception of last month’s micro-resolution to spend less time on the internet, which was greatly helped by my lack of internet access throughout January)? No, it wasn’t shame over not being able to live up to your expectations (which are realistic) but not being able to live up to my own (which are realistic but rarely low enough). And this shame carried through 2011.

This is where trying to improve yourself gets you. I’m just saying.

Anyway, I’ve decided to start talking about books again. Not in any meaningful way. Just my usual I-read-this-and-what-do-you-know way. In point of fact, I will start right now.

A couple weeks ago shortlist published “The 50 Coolest Books Ever.” Of the books on the list, I’d read A Clockwork Orange, Slaughterhouse Five, The Sun Also Rises, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, In Cold Blood, Fight Club, 1984 and The Great Gatsby. So…one-fifth of the “coolest books.” All of these books (that I read) were good books. Would they all have made my top fifty? No. But whatever. I’m going somewhere with this.

It sure didn’t take me long to notice that this short list of Coolest Books was overwhelmingly male-centric. Not particularly surprising, because the type of people who put together lists of their favorite books and assert that they are “the coolest” tend to be male. No offense to them. Out of these fifty books, four are written by women, and two of those four are by the same woman, Ayn Rand, who–no offense to anyone–is about the most male-centric female writer who ever lived. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I happen to like Ayn Rand. I’m just saying. And one of the four is Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, which I haven’t read, but…come on. Really? Coolest book ever? I wonder why. And by “I wonder” I mean “I don’t actually wonder.”

So I felt some self-righteous feminist (if that’s not too redundant) justification for ignoring this altogether, in addition to my usual knee-jerk anti-hipster justification. But I was curious to read the one book by a female author that I had never heard of before, which was Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

For something written by a girl, it is actually pretty cool. It is also primarily about men, which explains its presence on the list. Ha ha. I just can’t let it go, can I? Well, I can, for the purposes of this paragraph. For those of you non-hipsters who haven’t read it, it is about a murder and how it came to be committed. The novel opens with the murder, and you pretty much know who did it because the narrator says as much, so I’m not spoiling anything here (unless you’re my husband–who I really think would enjoy the book if he were willing to read it after I ruined the first page for him). The mystery is why the murder was committed. It’s about these college students who are in this exclusive Greek-studying clique and heavily influenced by their professor, who’s kind of a weirdo, and they more or less become a world unto themselves. And did I mention there’s a violent murder? So of course it’s interesting.

Ironically (or not, I dunno), I did not find the one female character at all compelling. And the denouement was, frankly, kind of a mess. It went on a bit and was just sort of meh. But right up through the climax it fascinated me.

Wouldn’t make my top 50 EVER, but it’s one of the better books I’ve read in recent times.

Around the same time I decided to read The Secret History, I also decided to read Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer (another book on the list) just to see what the big deal was. I know that I once told you all the story of my mother telling me the story of when she read Slaughterhouse Five and she was so disgusted by it that she threw it in the trash, but before she threw it in the trash she wrapped it in a brown paper bag so no one would see that she had been reading such a disgusting book. And years later I read the book myself and thought, “Really? That’s it? Oh-kay, Mom.”

Well! I made it through 47 excruciating pages of Tropic of Cancer and then I said to myself, “I now totally get Mom’s Slaughterhouse Five story.” If this hadn’t been a library book, I would have thrown it in the trash–but before throwing it in the trash I would have wrapped it in a brown paper bag so that no one would know that I had read such a disgusting book. Mes amis, you know the kind of books I sometimes read. I have a bookshelf at Goodreads called “psycho killers.” Remember when I confessed to you that I’d developed a taste for romantic thrillers aka serial-killer romance novels? Do I seem like a person with high standards of any type? Yet I could only abide 47 pages of this revolting, gross, misogynistic literary classic before I threw my hands up and said, “That’s it! Never mind!” And really, it wasn’t just that it was revolting, gross and misogynistic, but it was just so pretentious. When it’s no longer February (and I can swear again), I will write you a Cliffs Notes version (of the first 47 pages) and you will not have to see for yourself how it is.

That book is totally uncool.

So now that I’ve outed myself as a total Philistine who can’t appreciate the genius of Henry Miller, I’m going to go make dinner. This is way more than 500 words, but you should know by now that I never follow through on any clever idea I have, especially one that lasts a whole month, even if it is February.

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