The last time I attempted to cook was in 2010. Besides putting in 12-16 hours of work most days, I am absolutely uninterested in cooking for several reasons: One, I eat like a kindergartener. Two, I don’t understand spices, sauces, seasonings, basic cooking terms, or basic cooking techniques. I tried to cut a mango at work the other day and failed so epically that I almost cut two fingers off, got no actual edible portions out, and then had to throw the whole thing away. Three, I detest messes of any form. Four, I have no patience, like in all of life, for anything. When I’m hungry, I need to be fed almost immediately or I turn into a veritable demon and lose all control over anything that comes out of my mouth.
Anyway, back to 2010, a time when I allegedly had a glimmer of hope that I could be late to this cooking party and still get down a few basics. It was an ordinary night when I decided that I would take charge in the kitchen and prepare myself a decent meal. I set out on a mission to cook teriyaki chicken with the full knowledge that I had never successfully cooked a piece of chicken before. Actually I don’t think I had cooked any meat up until this point ever, unless microwaving bacon counts. I don’t know what I was thinking. I am actually not even capable of cooking popcorn without burning the shit out of it, every time. This is obviously not something to be proud of as a (then) 25-year-old woman, so I set off on this mission alone.
Within five minutes of turning on the frying pan (if that’s what you call that thing I used), I had charred the shit out of my chicken breast and full throttle set off the fire alarm in my apartment. The smoke detectors my building uses are no joke. The cacophony of terror they emit is literally so awful that it’s not possible to remain in the general area without plugging your ears. I needed this sound to stop immediately, so I abandoned my poultry challenge, promptly opened my first-floor balcony door, and started rapidly whipping kitchen towels around the room in a frenzied effort to clear out the smoke.
Several minutes in, alarm still sounding, I had a blood-curdling realization. BANKS. THE. CAT. My roommate has a cat that she loves more than almost everyone on the planet. This is not just any housecat. It’s basically a small, very expensive and very curious tiger. And this little tiger does NOT venture outside the apartment, ever. Unfortunately for me, the balcony door was wide open, and Banks was nowhere to be found.
Amid the chaos, I flew out of that apartment so fast you would have thought my ass was actually on fire. Misstep number two is that I immediately realized the door had locked behind me and my keys were definitely not on my body. I didn’t know what else to do so I ran to our 80-something-year-old security guard, Charles, in a state of absolute calamity. Bless his heart; he stood behind me with a flashlight as I began to crawl through the shrubbery around my building. My apartment at the time was situated near the entry gates into my building, so that cat had an opportunity to strut out to the busy intersection outside the gates upon any arrival or departure of any car in my complex.
I felt like Ned Stark, digging through the foliage. If I found the cat, I could keep my head, otherwise a Lannister was definitely going to appear in the night to sever my head.
After what seemed like forever, I found that silly son of a bitch hiding near a bush, ready to dart, but unsure of whether a life outside those gates was a life he truly wanted to explore. I waited for my moment and propelled myself at that thing like it was my last task on this earth. I caught him, but Banks does not like being held and was incredibly pissed that I had foiled his big boy breakaway. Problem solved.
Problem number 400: Charles did not have the ability to let me back into my apartment. So there I stood, locked out, flailing around with a livid cat that weighs as much as a fat toddler, but comes fully equipped with 20 unmitigated claws which he was very actively sinking in and around my body. I channeled my inner Kevin McCallister. I had to save the day. Charles shined that flashlight like a pro while I death gripped the cat that was death gripping me with 20 angry nails in unison and used one arm to grab on to the balcony and hoist one leg over. It took quite a bit of struggling, but eventually I was able to swing my second leg over and return the cat to the plush life he had foolishly considered walking away from.
I spent the rest of the night scrubbing a charred pan, smelling the sweet smell of burnt chicken, and patting alcohol-soaked cotton balls into my battle wounds. If that is not a message from the universe that I’m not cut out for cooking, I don’t know what it is. Since then, it has been said that I can merely “assemble” food. I can put turkey and cheese and mustard on bread and cut it down the middle, and that is probably the most extensive thing I’m able to throw together. Even still, I don’t think I’ve made a sandwich in years. It’s too involved. There is no time for sandwich making.
Four years later, I have yet to attempt a meal involving a stove or oven. Life is hard you guys, but four years of soul searching later, I’ve found the answer for anyone who shares my inability to embrace adulthood in the kitchen: pizza delivery. Specifically from Lucifer’s if you live in Los Angeles. You can thank me later.