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Home alone

By Joe Rogers

As of Tuesday, I will be a semi-bachelor.

Semi, because Kayne and I will still be thoroughly married. It’s just that she will not be in residence, having taken advantage of a temporary work posting in Hong Kong.

Some guys might look at this as an opportunity to capitalize on the resulting freedom. Binge-watch baseball and football. Play pool till 3 in the morning. Take off with friends on a guy trip.

Actually, I am going to do that next weekend.

But over all, I see the situation more as a challenge. Thing is, I never was very good at bacheloring. I function better as half a couple, since alone I lack certain life skills.

Some are not that crucial. For instance: Seventeen years in this house, and I still don’t remember when to put out paper recycling, and when to put out cans and glass.

Others are: I’m not real clear on precisely how our bills get paid, including utilities and the mortgage.

Chief among my failings, though, is what might be described as meal planning and execution.

I touched on this in a column about grilling. But the fact is, my incompetence also extends to inside the house.

True, I have become a fairly regular presence in the kitchen over the course of our marriage. But I’m generally in a supporting role: chopping onions and bell peppers, grating cheese, ascertaining when the pasta is al dente.

Even then I’m always supervised by Kayne, who is the kind of person who can pull random leftover ingredients from the refrigerator and – voila! – turn them into a flavorful soup or tasty stir fry.

On those occasions when I take the lead on a dish, she provides helpful guidance like “that hamburger meat isn’t done.” It can be hard for a colorblind guy to know.

Left to my own devices, canned goods figure prominently. Campbell’s soup. Dinty Moore beef stew. One concoction I used to be unduly proud of involved mixing a can of English peas and little onions with corn. That pretty much covered my vegetable efforts.

Cold cut sandwiches are of course a staple, and I still eat more peanut butter than the average 8-year-old. Frozen meals of one type or another helped when I made an effort at eating a balanced diet.

When I wasn’t making the effort, I’d have half a package of Oreos for supper.

And the rest for breakfast.

Eggs I can scramble or fry, but not boil. Spices beyond black pepper don’t much factor in: I feel reasonably certain the anise, marjoram and saffron in the pantry aren’t going to be in heavy rotation.

Two dishes I do have a pretty good mastery of are chili, and red beans and sausage. And the recipes produce both in such abundance that, as a solo eater, I could probably get by on either for a week.

The thing is, they either require or benefit from rice, another one of the staples Kayne has always taken care of and I haven’t mastered. Thank goodness she’s left me written instructions for that.

If only she could also leave instructions on how not to miss her.

Joe Rogers worked for The Clarion-Ledger, The Tennessean and The New York Times. He can be reached at jrogink@gmail.com or on Twitter @jrogink.

About Joe Rogers

I'm a retired newspaper journalist and a Mississippi native who found himself living and working in New York.

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