Sharing a life with someone, even someone you love more than anyone in the world, has its challenges. After all, individual people are, by and large, complete and total weirdos. You get two people together? Sheesh. Have fun with that mess. So many opinions and backgrounds and issues and expectations; it's too damn much. Take, for example, the ridiculous fights I've had with my partner over groceries. Groceries. Like, it's food, you guys. How rigorous can any discussion even be, right? Oh. It can get real, my friends. Real indeed. Fighting over food is just one of the many issues you can expect to bump into when you've committed yourself to another messy, weird human being.
I should offer a small disclaimer here by saying that when I say "fights," I don't mean we hurl insults and flatware at one another while screaming about the differences between a yam and a sweet potato. My home life in no way resembles Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf or anything like that. However, when you get two strong-willed, opinionated people together, even basic fundamental topics like groceries can become heady and heated.
You guys, I have many thoughts, feelings, and theories about groceries. (By the way, if you also have "thoughts, feelings, and theories" about groceries congratulations, you have become a boring adult and you may commence your identity crisis at any time.) Moreover, I am the person most responsible for food — from planning to purchasing to preparation — in my family. This combination of factors has resulted in a number of lively, um, discussions with my partner. For example:
If You Ask For It, You Have To Eat It
There is little that can happen in my own home that infuriates me more than seeing a specifically requested food go to rot because someone "forgot it was even in there" or, worse, "just wasn't in the mood." I may even get melodramatic and hyperbolic and say things like, "An actual turkey died for your hypothetical sandwich!" Woe be unto them who then requests the same thing the next week.
Of course when I buy mixed greens because, "I'm going to eat salads for lunch this week," and then wind up going to the taco truck around the corner from my office every day, I can also admit that stuff just happens. Oh well. #hypocrite #owningit
If You Don't Ask For It, Don't Get Miffed If I Don't Get It
Yeah, if I remember it off the top of my head I'll grab it, but dude if it ain't on the list it ain't in my cart. I am the keeper of a lot of collective family information. Dates for doctor's appointments, when bills are due, when our friends' wedding is, social security numbers, holiday shopping lists; it's all swimming around in my brain. So, I'm sorry I forgot you usually like me to buy soda. How about you tell me our daughter's blood type and we'll be even.
My partner is a total Cookie Monster. Watching him tear into a package of baked goods is a thing of savage beauty. I don't know that I will ever love anything as much as my husband loves cookies. When I buy them (weekly) he is the only one who really indulges. So you'd think I'd just buy what he wants and move on with my life, right? No. Because he likes terrible cookies and I need him to understand that.
Like, you know when you go to a store right before a hurricane or something, and all the shelves are empty except for, like, a can of pumpkin and a dusty package of questionable-looking chocolate chip cookies? Those are the ones my husband opts for by choice. I offer him the name brand kind (which may not be delicious, but at least they taste of childhood nostalgia), I wholeheartedly suggest getting some from the store's delicious bakery. No. He wants garbage cookies. (I literally call them garbage cookies.) I repeat: I do not eat these cookies one way or the other, but I'm heavily invested in him getting "better cookies" for some completely illogical, crazy reason.
The Quality Of Fruits And Vegetables
Unless circumstances completely prevent it, I am the only person in my house to buy fruits and vegetables; not because my partner isn't interested in doing so, but because I am ridiculously picky about what I'm looking for in my produce. If my guy runs to the store to get something, even if we need, say, squash, I will make a special trip the next day to ensure it's "the right" squash. Certainly he can do this: he has told me so and I believe him because he's capable and smart, but this is one area of my life where I am, to put it lightly, a control freak.
Have you ever seen little old ladies spend 20 minutes rooting through tomatoes? Sniffing them, squeezing them, ascertaining their color and whether or not they have bruises or bumps? That's me. (What can I say? I come from a long line of very discerning old Italian women, and we take this sh*t seriously.)
"This Is My Special Treat..."
Deciding who gets exclusive rights to certain foods can be messy. It takes a strong partnership to balance holding on to one's independence and not being a selfish jerk about who is (and is not) entitled to the pint of Ben & Jerry's sitting tantalizingly in the freezer.
"I Was Going To Eat That!"
As far as I'm concerned, if something has been sitting in the cupboard/freezer/fridge for two weeks — completely untouched — it can either be tossed or eaten by whomever happens upon it. So, sorry; I know you bought that bag of chips as a "special treat" but it's cluttering up our limited space, you haven't touched it or even mentioned it, and I want them now. Deal with it.
Yeah. This is a matter of contention.
Whether Alcohol Should Be Included In The Grocery Budget
So, I drink. My husband does not. So the question is: should my booze be paid for with grocery money? No one has ever gotten upset about this, but it is an interesting discussion. On the one hand, I'm the only one who partakes of it and it's not available in the grocery store, so why should it come out of the grocery budget? On the other hand, he's the only one who eats those abominable garbage cookies and they come out of the grocery budget. While wine isn't available in grocery stores (in our state) due to some stupid Blue Laws that don't make sense, it's still food and beverage. Truly, 'tis a puzzlement.
(We really haven't come up with a solid decision on the matter just yet, so for now it's paid for on whatever card I pull out first.)
Which Store Are We Even Going To Go To
"But this one's closer!"
"But this one's cheaper!"
"But I have a club card for this one!"
"We can get a club card at the other one!"
"But that one is farther away!"
"But it's still closer than the one we went to in our old neighborhood!"
"But this one's nicer."
"But I like the deli counter at this one!"
"But the produce at that one is awful!"
"But there's a better produce variety!"
As the partner with the more flexible schedule, meal planning and prep falls to me. That makes sense and it works for our family, but sometimes I get in cooking ruts and call upon my beloved to help me come up with new ideas.
He never, ever comes up with new ideas. Not even when I allot time for him to browse cookbooks or the internet.
This is infuriating, especially when I offer, "Well how about..." and he responds "No." Ugh.
"But It's Still Good...!"
Whether or not an expiration date is a mandate or a suggestion is the subject of vigorous disagreement and debate in my house, largely because we both tend to fall on the "sniff test" side of things (as in, if it smells fine it is fine). So when we disagree it's like a college level debate championship.
Whether We Are "Allowed" To Buy More Food When We Have Leftovers
This is less a debate between partners so much as it is a question of who is going to be virtuous and who is going to try to talk the other out of virtue. Because, really, we both know we shouldn't buy more food when there are leftovers available, waiting to be eaten. On the other hand, though: Ugh. Leftovers. So, we generally take turns swapping who's going to be the devil on the other person's shoulder, saying, "Come on, we had that last night! Let's order pizza!"