Meatloaf

I try not to carry on about it too much, but some days it is starkly clear that I am, hands down, the most logical person in my family.

This reality confronts me when I am in some heated debate with my wife or kids and I can so immediately see the most logical conclusion, yet even with my careful guidance and tutelage, it takes them hours to achieve the same clarity.

Take, for example, a meal last week.  My wife and I took our youngest along for some last-minute Christmas shopping and promised her dinner at The Cheesecake Factory if she were well behaved and tolerated the chaos of the mall five days before Christmas.

Our daughter did well and, after an hour wait, we sat down to place our orders.  This was the easy part, I assumed, since we had planned for an hour that we both wanted the Famous Factory Meatloaf.  Kiddo’s order would simply be off the children’s menu, so this should have been quick and painless.

As the waitress took our drink order, the wife suddenly waffled.  “I may want the chicken marsala.  We could split that and the meatloaf,” she beamed hopefully.

“But I don’t want chicken marsala,” I clarified, “I want meatloaf.”  I was frustrated at this overt play for my entrée.

“But I want meatloaf too,” she pleaded.

“Then order the meatloaf because I am not splitting mine.  I have been waiting an hour, and I am eating every last slice of it.”

See how logical it is, reader?  If you want meatloaf, you order meatloaf.  What is so hard to understand?

The waitress returned, and my wife sweetly suggested that we get appetizers since we had been waiting so long.  My mouth watered at the thought of their loaded potato tots.  No argument here!  We spoke in harmony requesting the tots.  Then the wife called an audible and ordered something called edamame, which I had never even heard of.  Two appetizers seemed like a lot but the growl in my stomach assured me I would be up to the task.

As we placed our entrée selections with the server, my wife deferred to me to order first.  My mouth watered as I anticipated the three slices of wonderful meatloaf that soon would be steaming in front of me next to a huge pile of savory mashed potatoes with beautiful, mushroom-laden gravy smothering both.

Across the table appeared a nod and a smile with a hint of something I failed to recognize in her voice.    “I’ll have the chicken marsala,” my wife announced.

The server departed and I reiterated in slow staccato phrasing, “You are not getting any of my meatloaf.”

“Of course not!  I know you’re hungry, and I chose the chicken marsala.”

Appeased that her intentions were pure, I relaxed.

Minutes later, the appetizers arrived.  The tots were as good as ever and the edamame…

Well, as far as overpriced, salted soybeans go, they weren’t half bad.  They were closer to whole bad.  Downright disgusting even.  But to set a fatherly example, I accepted with grace the stern look I received in response to my initial expression of disgust, and I began to nibble away at them so as to encourage the kiddo to eat them as well.

After my third of the tots were gone, the wifey offered me more of her share, “Go ahead, honey.  I’m not feeling that hungry.”

Of course, I couldn’t resist, and she smiled at my acceptance of her generous offer.  Apparently she was extending an olive branch in recognition of the folly in her previous proposal to split meals.  See how long it took?

I finished off considerably more than half of the tots and, to show my appreciation, continued to eat the edamame to encourage our daughter.  Or maybe it was growing on me.

Our server appeared with the entrées, and as I gazed upon those three glorious slices of meatloaf, I noticed my belt felt a little restrictive already.  But that barely slowed me down.  I tore into the meatloaf like a man restricted to pudding and soup for the last three months.  It was divine!

A few bites into her chicken marsala, my wife kindly inquired about my enjoyment of the meatloaf.  Turning the screws just a little, I responded with a slightly overzealous, “It’s fantastic! A little less gravy than normal, but it’s great.”  She suggested I request more gravy, but I assured her I was quite content.

“Hmm.  I really prefer my meatloaf with more gravy,” she remarked.

“Then it is a good thing this is not your meatloaf, dear,” I replied.  Sheesh… again, that logic thing.

As my initial slice grew smaller and smaller, my waistline grew larger and larger.  Bloated with two entire slices of meatloaf still on my plate, I slouched back in my chair, amazed at my inability to finish the entire meal and wondering how I could be so full after only one slice.

“Are you done already, honey?” came from across the table along with a shakily innocent smile. My wife turned to our passing server and politely requested, “Could I get a ‘to go’ box for the rest of my chicken and more gravy for his meatloaf, please?”

As my plate was dragged to her side of the table, I gave up with a sigh.  Sometimes I just have to accept the disparity in our intellect and recognize there is nothing more I can do to help her see logic as clearly as I do.

© Michael L. Collins

* This column previously appeared in the February 30, 2015 edition of The Mountain Press

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