As of Tuesday, I have become a bachelor.
This is a temporary situation, I hasten to say, not the result of catastrophic changes in my marital status or anything like that.
I'm not about to hit the singles scene looking for dates.
This situation is due to the redeployment of my wife to grandma duty. Our daughter-in-law's employer has sent her off to collect soil samples at some environmental cleanup site, so my permanent dance partner is helping our son manage two pre-school kids, three dogs and a cat. As a result, for the next 10 days or so, I'm a single guy, with only two cats for companionship.
I'm facing the next few days with a bit of uneasiness. After 43 years, a guy gets used to having a wife around reminding him to do stuff like comb his hair. Some of those functions are fulfilled by the cats, but they are mostly concerned with making sure I get up in the morning and feed them, and don't much care if I'm presentable when I go out in public. I don't ever remember a cat reminding me to comb my hair.
For that matter, I've never had a cat remind me to feed myself, but then, I've never needed anybody to remind me of that. I do, however, require my wife's guidance and her knowledge of kitchen lore to make sure I eat the right stuff.
Back in the old days, like 2008, I never worried that much about my diet while the good woman was off visiting. I had an action plan for such occasions and implemented it as soon as the taillights disappeared around the corner.
First, I ordered a large pepperoni pizza. On the way to pick it up, I stopped off to buy a package of Lorna Doone cookies (those were for breakfast), a box of fudge-covered Oreos (formerly known as Mystic Mints), and some ice cream. That generally comprised my diet for the weekend, although if I was feeling ambitious or ran out of Lorna Doones, I'd bake up a batch of oatmeal cookies to boost my diet with some whole grains.
If I was alone beyond the weekend, I'd survive on what was in the refrigerator or take advantage of the supermarket deli or whatever fast food was available.
Unfortunately, this regimen won't work any more. Age has caught up with my digestive system and nutrition has become more critical. I am now obligated to eat my breakfast oatmeal from a bowl, not in the form of cookies. Lorna Doones are definitely out, and fudge-covered Oreos are unthinkable. Moreover, the recommended ration of ice cream, if one is to remain healthy, appears to be one teaspoon every six weeks or so, not half a gallon every three days.
Then there's that pizza thing, which involves a number of negatives, namely, too much cheese and too many carbohydrates.
In addition, I've been told that nobody should ever eat pepperoni. In nutrition circles, the stuff is considered lethal, suitable only for poisoning in your enemies. That alone eliminates pizza because frankly, a pizza without pepperoni isn't really a pizza, so why bother.
Besides, this time I have pledged, both to my wife and my image in the bathroom mirror, to eat healthy stuff while she is with the grandkids.
This does present a problem. My culinary skills are limited, and my ambition to actually perform them is even more limited.
During my real bachelorhood, I survived pretty much on frying stuff, opening cans and boiling stuff in boxes, all of which raise nutritional issues, like grease and salt content.
But, as I said, this stretch of single living is different from those in the past, and I'm approaching it fearlessly. There's a lot vegetables in the refrigerator and some really healthy leftovers in the freezer that will stave off starvation, and recently we acquired a George Foreman Grill, which, at least theoretically, is supposed to be a healthier way to cook a pork chop than frying it.
The main difference though, is that I've become somewhat obsessed with healthy eating over the past few months, so I think I can make it through my temporary bachelorhood without gaining 10 pounds and raising my cholesterol levels to Himalayan heights.
Sometime during the next 10 days, though, I'll no doubt be making that pizza call, and the word pepperoni will definitely be part of the discussion.
A bachelor, after all, has to assuage his loneliness somehow.