First of all, congratulations! You’re in a relationship! However did that happen? Probably not a good idea to look too closely. You can fool some of the people all of the time, and so on. Regardless, enjoy it for the two or three weeks of anxiety-infused happiness before she wises up.
Second, while we usually try to make our incredibly advisable advice apply to as many groups of people as possible (not the Dutch, though. Screw those bastards), some topics are limited in their scope by their very nature. There’s no equivalent we can provide our intelligent and discerning non-cishet male readers for something like How To Even… Cook A Nice Meal For Your Significant Other, because (1) non-cishets tend to have basic life skills down pretty well (not hard), and (2) you couldn’t give a rat’s ass. Either way, we’re not here to condescend. However, you might consider reading this post as a warning of what to potentially expect if you find yourself slumming.
Okay, so, gentlemen. Your relationship with Girlfriend is going well. You’ve managed to conceal your true personality from her, in hopes that you can construct another at some point (see How To Even…Date). However, one evening, without thinking, you offer to make her a romantic dinner at your place. She says yes, and gives your hand a little squeeze, clearly thinking that you want to advance the relationship in a positive direction. You, on the other hand, are clearly thinking about how to get cosmetic surgery, assume a new identity, and relocate to some horrible place where you’ll get dysentery and die. Maybe we mean clearly panicking rather than clearly thinking.
But none of that worked because you’re an idiot and couldn’t figure out the paperwork. The truth is you’ve trapped yourself. You’re with someone you like, who likes you back — will wonders never cease? — and you’ve just decided to take a stroll through a shark-infested relationship minefield. Let’s see what that looks like.
First, we’re going to assume that, just after this conversation, you broke your lease, or bent your mortgage, or something, and have moved to a new, clean living space. Or, you know, hire some people to clean it. Whatever it takes to keep her from realizing the sad little life you live. This way you don’t have to make your home presentable, or enterable, and can concentrate on the challenge of cooking something beyond your capabilities for someone who so far has not been horrified by your presence.
Now, you’re drunk and crying in your bathroom, like most Tuesdays. You’ve got to get past that, though, and get to cooking. Those bags aren’t going to boil in themselves.
Let’s clear out a few cobwebs. You may be thinking that a bag of chips and a jar of salsa equal dinner. They do not, not for someone other than you. They equal appetizers at best, which is fine, assuming they’re all fresh, and haven’t been sitting on a table for three months. Now that we’re on the subject of dipping things into other things to eat them, let’s talk about the wonderful world of hummus. What is hummus? Fuck if we know. It’s this paste-like substance that you stick carrots and weird-tasting crackers into and eat. Listen, take our word on this one, the ladies love their hummus. Whatever you do, don’t accidentally get humus, which is basically dirt. Some ladies do love humus, but probably not for dinner. Unless your girlfriend has pica, which is, in fact, not a kind of Pokemon.
But where to get hummus? Should you try to make it at home? Pfft. Have you met you? No. Leave it up to professionals. Get it at the store. Wait, you know where the store is, right? The place that sells beer. Unless you get that from a gas station, and if your gas station sells hummus we’re going to make an executive decision and say don’t buy it.
Okay. So, now you’ve got hummus. You’ve got some carrot wedges you bought in a little plastic cup because you’re so pitiful, you can’t be trusted to peel a carrot. Are you ashamed? You should be. Feel it soak into you. And then set it aside, because you haven’t even gotten to the actual meal yet. That was all appetizer.
You’re going to need some liquid refreshment for the dinner. You have beer and spoiled milk in your fridge, and that’s what we’d expect. Maybe go ahead and toss that milk, sport. Okay, so, women have these things called taste buds. We’re not entirely sure what they do, but they make women like to eat and drink things that don’t have the word “Rodeo” in the title. Yeah, we know it’s weird, but stay focused. You’re going to need something for her to drink — other than beer. Maybe she’ll like a beer, ok, but you need options. Something weird, like Fresca, or that stuff that tastes like what escapes from a fruit’s body after it’s murdered — you know, the “sparkling” stuff. That’s just to get started. You’re also going to need some kind of wine. Ladies love wine. Sure, it tastes like rotten fruit juice — that is, in fact, what it is — but women like it. And some men pretend to. You’re probably going to need to ask someone who works at the wine store. Or, pick something with a whimsical cover with like a bicycle or a mime on it, or something. (Do we need to point out that you’ll need glasses — made of glass — for her to drink it out of? Clean ones. The sparkling stuff might require ice.
The Main Course
All right. You’re doing well. You have snacks. You have drinks. You bought some new glasses — regular and wine glasses. We’re assuming you have plates to serve all this on and utensils to eat it with — not plastic ones. If not, put it on the list.
Now, you need a meal to actually serve. This is a tough one. Let’s think about what you had for dinner last night: it was something your girlfriend made. Okay, maybe bad choice. How about the last time you were on your own? What was it? Oh yeah, a bag of Doritos and a frozen pizza. You cooked it, ate all the cheese off, then emptied a bunch of parmesan cheese packets on it, sprayed Cheez Whiz on it, and stuck that in the oven until it was hot, ate that off the crust, and did it again until the crust was a burnt, black brick, which you almost broke a tooth eating. So maybe don’t serve that.
What does your girlfriend like to eat? Do you even know? Look, we’re trying not to get angry with you, but come on. Make an effort. Do you know your own name? Okay, sorry. This isn’t helping.
Let’s role play a little. Imagine you’re a human being. A real one, not whatever you are. Sorry again. Okay. Imagine you’re your girlfriend. And you’re having a meal you enjoy. Maybe think back to a meal she had that she enjoyed. Don’t say ribs. Now, what was that meal? Try to think of something that’s actually doable. Like, sure, she liked the Indian takeout place, but let’s be honest, you can’t make Indian food. And you can’t just order takeout because you said you were going to cook. And she knows you.
When all else fails, give up and buy a baked chicken from the store.* Don’t forget to get some kind of sides. Maybe bake her a potato, which means you need to get butter, sour cream, probably salt and pepper. Did we mention forks earlier? Maybe also get some kind of crusty bread with decent butter and some kind of vegetable dish for a side. Not something out of a can. Frozen is fine, but fresh is better.
*Yes, you did say you were going to cook, and this isn’t technically cooking, but you work with what you’ve got, here. If you think you’re ready to bake a chicken, go for it, sport.
Everything is ready. Your girlfriend is here. You moved the laundry pile from the couch, sprayed it down with Lysol, and hid it. She’s had some hummus and a sparkling drink. You’ve talked about something other than that weird spot on your ankle or whatever you did on a video game. Things are going well. You’re thinking this might work, but now comes the big show: it’s time to feed her.
You’ve sat her at your table. You were smart enough to buy two chickens so you could practice carving one of them. You’ve thoughtfully taped notecards at key points on the wall with instructions, conversation prompts, etc. You notice the one that reminds you to ask if she wants dark meat or light. You don’t actually know what that means, so you give her a leg and part of a breast (and don’t make a dumb joke out of it). She thanks you, so good enough. She says something about the trivet (you know what that is now!) on the table being new. You refrain from mentioning that it’s all new — including the table — and that you usually just prop things on beer cans if they’re hot. You serve her some green beans which you nuked yourself, offer some bread (you’ve removed the blood-soaked pieces from the “cutting board incident.”). You both sit and eat.
Your notecards have topics to discuss because you’ve thought of everything. You mention the weather. You mention the war. (There’s always weather and war.) You ask her about her day and let her talk instead of just waiting for your chance to complain. Whatever she says happened, you take her side instead of devil’s advocating. This is just simple not-being-a-dick behavior.
You’ve fed your girlfriend. You even got some fruit for dessert (Thank you YouTube!) instead of the beer pie you intended to make. Now, it’s time to clean up the mess.
This may be the most daunting task because you’re so unused to it. Take her plate (WHEN SHE’S DONE WITH IT!) along with yours to the sink. Scrape out any uneaten food into the trash. Rinse the dishes off and put them in the dishwasher, unless the dishwasher is where you hid your dirty laundry. If it is, just leave them in the sink for now and say something like, “I’ll get to those later,” when we both know you’ll throw them away and just buy new dishes.
Now, you’ll need to put the uneaten food into containers. No, the fridge is not a container. DO NOT just shove it all in. That’s gross. You’ll need Tupperware.
Now, you’ll want to move to the couch, which may just be a pile of laundry arranged in a vague couch shape with a blanket thrown over top. Offer some more wine. Don’t go straight for the sex. Give it a minute. You just ate.
What have we learned? Well, a lot, in one sense. We’ve learned how to do a basic task we should’ve already known. We’ve learned to care about the perceptions of others, which is a solid step down the path of self-awareness, if we choose to continue that way. We’ve learned that Skittles actually make a decent appetizer. More than all this, we’ve learned that relationships take work, and that we are capable of doing work. Congratulations! You’re a person. Keep working at it, and you just might get somewhere.