My friend, X, was by no means an idiot, but he was (for the period of a single year) an eighteen-year-old boy. The age of eighteen is particularly troublesome for boys. At eighteen, most boys strike out on their own—feeling as though they have thrown free shackles. They flirt with girls. They drive fast. They stay out all night. Life is a party.
And then they realize that they need to eat.
Eating drives boys to do crazy things.
I was eighteen, and freshly sharing an apartment with a buddy, when the thought of purchasing an actual can opener overwhelmed me. If I had a can opener, I reasoned, I could purchase cans filled with food and then open them. In something closely related to a stupor, I drove to a store and put forth my own hard-earned money for an electric can opener.
That day still haunts me.
My friend, X, shared an apartment with another friend. X had it bad. He liked to eat. He even thought he could prepare his own food. More than once, X left his apartment while foodstuffs were baking in the oven, only to return home, many hours later, to an apartment filled with blue smoke and charred remains in the oven. Another time, he tried to boil hot dogs in a standard glass bowl. Naturally, the bowl shattered when the burner climbed to full temperature—spewing hot dogs across the stove and floor. X mostly abandoned his cooking craze after we started stuffing the grim remains from his attempts between the sheets of his bed.
“Buy food,” we advised him.
Today, I am offering what I think might be a practical set of cooking directions for eighteen-year-old boys.
1. Bring water to a boil in a pot.
2. Dump stuff you want to boil in water.
3. Boil until stuff turns a weird color or gets soft.
4. Never attempt to hard-boil eggs.
1. Put stuff in a pan with either butter or bacon grease.
2. Place pan on a burner turned to medium.
3. When stuff starts to sizzle, regularly stir and turn stuff.
4. Stuff should be done by the time half of the pan’s contents are scattered across the stovetop.
1. Poke holes in stuff.
2. Place stuff in the microwave.
3. Microwave stuff in one-minute increments.
4. Stop microwaving when stuff pops our bubbles out of container.
5. Try to remember that thing about metal in a microwave.
1. Baking is complicated—avoid baking stuff.