Friday, May 2, 2008

Wife Rule #44: She's Perfect for a Cheesy Guy Like Me

I have a recurring nightmare.

In this dream, I awake in the middle of the night. For some reason, I'm not tired at all--I feel hungry. It's also unusually cold, so I pause for a minute and clutch our soft, heavy comforter up around my neck. Something is wrong, something is out of place. I try to shake the uneasy feeling. As I get out of bed to begin my trek to the refrigerator, I slip my feet into the velvet slippers I keep at my bedside, but instead of the usual warmth, they too feel cold, as if they had been sitting on blocks of ice.

Trying not to wake my wife, I stumble through the darkness until I grasp the bedroom doorknob. It too feels like ice, and my hand recoils momentarily. My stomach rumbles. Mustering my determination, I grasp the handle firmly and twist. But this time, the normal quarter-turn doesn't do it. I just keep twisting and twisting, hoping to meet the resistance that lets me know that the latch is free. It never comes, and I realize that my hand is frozen to the handle, which now seems to be turning of its own accord. I watch in horror as my arm continues to twist around like a braided rope, doubling back on itself, twisting and knotting up tighter and tighter. My mind is frantic. Why can't I stop turning the handle? Why won't the door come free? When will it stop?

And then, all of a sudden, I realize that I'm not in my bedroom at all: I'm already inside the refrigerator. And my arm is no longer an arm, it's a huge green twist-tie, and the doorknob has turned into what would be the open end of a giant plastic bag, were it not tied up. The writhing twist-tie coils at an accelerated pace, ever tighter, like an angry snake. Suddenly it glows red-hot and then bursts into flame, and the giant plastic bag pops open with a deafening explosion, revealing what's inside, and then


The scream in my head wakes me up. I'm not sure whether I cried out aloud or not. I am sitting bolt upright in bed, my forehead beaded with sweat and my hands trembling. I check my arms. Yup, both there. I look over at my wife. She stirs a bit, but apparently I didn't make enough of a disturbance to wake her completely.

I roll out of bed, slide into my slippers, and make my way to the door. It opens easily this time, and I step out into the hallway, which is dimly lit by our porch lights. Their eerie luminescence streams through the abstract glass designs in the front door windows, casting ghastly patterns on the wall at the end of the hall. It does feel a little uncharacteristically cool. Shuddering, I avert my eyes from the strange spectres and quickly make my way into the kitchen, grasp the refrigerator handle firmly, and open the fridge. And then I see it--my worst fear, the realization of my nightmares:

There's no cheese.

All that's left is an empty plastic bag with a loose green twist-tie. My mind panics: Great, just great. No 3 A.M. nachos. Now what am I going to do? Just throw me to the wolves.

Okay, a little honesty is in order here. I'll admit that I've never had a cheese nightmare like the one I described above, and actually, I've never even attempted to make nachos at 3 A.M. I usually sleep like a brick. A luscious, mellow, faded-yellow brick of mild cheddar....

But the important fact remains that if we ever did run out of cheese, this hypothetical situation could happen, which could trigger a series of unpleasant nightmares like the one I described above.

I just can't afford to take that risk.

For this reason, I have opened up to my loving wife and a few close friends about my CHEese Deficiency Anxiety disordeR, or CHEDAR (okay, I'll admit it's a bit of a stretch, but give me a little credit; trying to come up with an acronym for MOZZARELLA would have been downright ridiculous).

Because this is undoubtedly a wide-spread affliction, one which tragically goes almost completely undiagnosed, I am now going public. I'll take up the cause and be the self-proclaimed spokesman for CHEDAR.

The first step to coping with CHEDAR is to accept your condition, without shame. When perfection is in your grasp, it's hard not to fear losing it. Cheese is the virtuoso food of versatility. It melts on patties; it coats in a fondue pot; it pleases as an appetiser; it shreds in salads, side dishes, and main courses from nearly every culture in the world. It's a snack food; a breakfast food; a lunch and dinner food; it's an I'm-not-hungry-but-you-look-so-yummy-I'll-eat-you-anyway food.

Besides being delicious and colorful, cheese is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, plus, as a bonus, it solves world hunger (find me a Boy Scout that's done that! Ha!). And perhaps most noble of all, cheese never hesitates to serve its Highest Purpose, as the single, most-spectacularest, yummiest ingredient on pizza.

Thus, you can see that it's completely rational to experience a high degree of anxiety at the prospect of running out of cheese. This is why the President of the United States--most likely a closet CHEDAR sufferer; why else would the men in black suits and sunglasses refer to him as "The Big Cheese?"--anyway, as I was saying, the President recently ordered a 50% increase in the storage capacity of the Strategic National Cheese Reserves. It may drive up prices a little, but it's a small price to pay for peace of mind. And using similar logic, the last time I visited a grocery store, I came home with twenty half-pound bricks of cheese. I'm not kidding. It was the size that was on sale. So sue me.

Such an obsession with cheese, while completely natural, could become an unhealthy, unbalancing force in one's life if not kept in check. This is why I recommend a solid support system of family and close friends--it might help to think of them as the necessary curds in your whey. I mentioned that I have told a few friends about my CHEDAR. For this reason, a couple of them who recently brought by meals for us after our newest baby was born, were thoughtful enough to include bricks of cheese with the meal (really). If only every CHEDAR sufferer could feel so loved and supported!

It goes without saying that the hub of my cheese-wheel of strength is my wife. Not suffering from CHEDAR herself, she doesn't really understand my anxiety about stocking our fridge with cheese, but she cheerfully puts up with it. Don't worry about her sanity, though: if you think this Wife Rule is getting pretty weird, then my wife surely agrees with you. But that's one of the great things about her; she accepts me, weirdness, worries, warts, and all. When something is as important to me as cheese is, she doesn't question it; she just puts her loving arms around me and gives me a squeeze and her full, if not wildly enthusiastic, support.

She's just the type of wife a cheesy guy like me needs.


Shell said...

I admit that I have some parts of this obsession in me too. Our freezer currently has three huge cheddar blocks from Costco AND about 13 bags of frozen shredded mozzarella.

LuckyMatt said...

Whew, thanks for responding. I was feeling like a real wierdo there with all the silence following my candid confession.

chelse said...

wow. that's amazing. i did not know that someone could write that much about cheese. cu-dose!