As a rambunctious kid growing up in southern California, I was lucky enough to live at home under the loving dictatorship of two middle-income parents. In exchange for a few menial tasks like mowing the lawn, pulling weeds and cleaning out the septic tank, my parents gave me a comfortable place to live, a weekly allowance and home cooked meals.
After I joined the Navy, it still didn’t dawn on me that I couldn’t cook. Why would it? Every day at five o’clock, we sauntered over to the mess hall, grabbed a dented aluminum tray, a knife and a spork and stood in line for whatever slop they were pushing on us that night. We spent the rest of the evening debating over exactly what it was that we just ate and how bad it tasted. But at least I didn’t have to prepare it.
It wasn’t until several years later that I had to figure out how to feed myself. By the end of my tour of military duty, I was too old to go back home and couldn’t afford a personal chef, so I was on my own. I’d either have to get married, learn how to cook or wither away to nothing.