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National Editorials & Columns

Life on a roller coaster

Sometimes, I feel like my whole life is a combination of all the rides at Walt Disney World.

One day, the ride is sashaying aimlessly through an idyllic, yet robotic, landscape while happy little animatronic dolls sing that stupid little song.

Anyway, you’re moving along, happily dreaming of ways to decapitate the singing dolls, when BAM!, the lights go out and you’re perched on top of the roller coaster in Space Mountain. You don’t know where the ride is going to go. You know it’s going to be fast; you know there will be sharp turns and rough bumps; and you hope you don’t throw up.

That’s sort of where I am right now. Everything was bright and cheerful in a fakey kind of way. Now, it’s getting exciting, but I don’t know what lies ahead. I guess I should buckle up.

The first stop on this journey is the kitchen, which is a fairly foreign land to me. It was more of a “no trespassing” zone. Like all the other pigs on the farm, as long as the food in front of me was edible, I didn’t much care where it came from or how it got prepared. I knew we had a refrigerator because, for the better part of the ’90s, our son’s head was stuck in it.

As you may have surmised, I’m cooking for one these days. I don’t want to belabor that point; the ride stopped and one of us got off. It’s really about that simple.

So, I’m in the kitchen taking inventory and I see the problem is not that there’s no food to eat. The freezer is full of foil-wrapped mystery meat, but I don’t know how long it’s been there, and I don’t need to thaw out a family-size portion. The main problem is I don’t know how to cook any of it.

The second problem is that some preparations require perishable ingredients. The problem with perishable ingredients is they tend to perish.

I bought a bag of potatoes, but before I could use them, half the tubers were sprouting eyes. A carton of milk became cottage cheese before I could even open it. I had a bag of shredded mozzarella cheese that had turned black. The eggs went bad and kidnapped the condiments. I finally threw everything out and restocked so the spoiling cycle could start over again.

Now, when I go home and start preparing supper, the menu starts out with “what is about to go bad?” I’m eating foods that don’t go together just to cut my losses.

Maybe I’ll just have cereal tonight. Like last night. And the night before that. 

This ride seems to be stuck. I’m ready for the next one. 

• David Porter can be reached at

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