“I can make nachos! I have everything except chips!”
— the quotable mo sheppo
You’re doing your end-of-the-world shopping and you can only buy one go-to comfort item. What would it be?
Mo had just cleaned out all the Kraft macaroni and cheese from the store we were in. Kraft mac and cheese was the food she turned to in times of stress. It wasn’t fancy or nourishing or glamorous, it just filled the spot in her head, and her belly, that needed to be filled.
Mister Pants realized that’s probably how they ended up together. Mister Pants had been a mac and cheese guy since his early days as a starving journalist when they were five for a dollar. Yes, Mister Pants was old. Only many years later did he discover that you were supposed to add butter and milk to it. Like starving journalists could afford butter and milk. And he enjoyed the grittiness of the powdered cheese anyhow. Mister Pants liked food that showed grit.
It had always been an abstract question until now. But the current rush through supermarket aisles to snap up any food item left standing made him ponder the question. Sure, you need essentials like coffee and … well, just coffee. But what would be the item on the list that’s there not because you need it, but because you love it?
Mister Pants asked Mo’s Ya-Ya Sisterhood for their divine secrets. Mo’s mom, being Mo’s mom, said mac and cheese (not knowing this had been Mo’s choice.) This reaffirmed Mister Pants’ theory that Mo was basically a Mini-Me of her mom. Sister the Elder said barbecue Fritos. Mister Pants was skeptical at first but then realized this seemed very Texan considering she was a Washington girl, so he approved. Sister the Middle said milk, which isn’t a comfort food at all, but would come in handy if one had mac and cheese and butter. Whatever, Sister the Middle responded.
Isn’t that what’s really important? Sure, you can focus on toilet paper and hand sanitizer and beenee weenees and other “essential” items, but when push comes to shove, what you really want is food that makes you happy. And there was a lot of pushing and shoving these days.
Char, Mister Pants’ friend and go-to source for celebrity voiceovers and obscenity-laced rants against Salazar, settled on a box of Cheerios and a book of crossword puzzles. When you’re 90, you can’t go to the casino and bar so much these days, but she seemed to be OK with the essentials as she continued her isolation. Although Mister Pants suspected that despite her promise not to, she would still be headed to Lowe’s as soon as he left to buy a plant. Rebels never stop being rebels, and sometimes you really, really need a plant.
Mister Pants ran 4.5 easy miles on the mad dog, dreaming of mac and cheese and nachos and and a day when the runners on the course would no longer be swerving away from each other because of the vermin, and go back to swerving away from each other just because they were runners and that’s what runners do.
And then he realized. Maybe the secret of comfort food wasn’t the food at all. Maybe it was the person you were sharing it with.
Except, of course, the last two Heath Crunch ice cream squares in the freezer. Mister Pants would wait until Mo was asleep so he could eat them both. Sharing can be way overrated.
Mister Pants had everything he neeed. Except chips. And a good excuse as to where the ice cream had gone …