It was an affront. I’d returned to the supermarket for a second time because that’s what you get when you leave half your act behind. I was baking, which should serve as a satisfactory explanation as to why my act wasn’t together. I’m a whirl in the kitchen, and most of the time, it simply looks like “aftermath”—whatever that means to you, yes.
The first “buy” list consisted of cream cheese and random odds scribbled, “as we go,” on a running list tacked to the fridge: Montreal Steak seasoning, Gorgonzola crumbles, Love Phil. He asks me to write this at the top of all my lists, but sometimes a girl’s got to prioritize. Cheese is just going to win every time.
I returned home and continued to bake my Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares, opening my condensed milk. Something wasn’t right. I check the expiration date. 2007. Motherfcuker. I search the web for, “using expired sweetened condensed milk.” I sniffed. I tasted. I threw it out. But I’d already assembled all the other ingredients, which left me deflated, slogging my way back to the store for 2013 Sweetened Condensed Milk. Also, I’d forgotten to buy DVD-R discs—an essential for the girl movie night.
Which brought me face to face with the aforementioned affront. Right there at the checkout counter amid glossy magazines promising a thin organized younger life was a text treatment that bordered on assault. Beneath a screen split of Courtney and Ben from ABC’s The Bachelor read, “CHEATED THREE TIMES,” with the subhead, “He proposed to Courtney, and now he’s embarrassed by her.” It was featured on the cover of US Weekly. Spoiler. No alert, just spoiler. With the final episode still to air, the guess is out of the game. Now, it’s just a black (romantic) comedy, where you know all the answers save for one: how. He chose her, but now I can at least watch the how. How he proposes, how he comes to his decision, how he lets the other one down. It feels so anticlimactic. Especially when it feels like whatever happened in the finale (filmed in November), their relationship is unquestionably different today, in March, 2012. If they’re together, if they aren’t, do we really even care?
Am I attached to their story, feel deeply for either of these strangers? No. As someone I’ve never met and can only view through the edited lens of producers, Ben F still strikes me as someone who, all his life since fifth grade, has heard “nice” as his defining character trait. Frankly, I say let him go be nice somewhere else, somewhere other than national TV. Lovely people don’t always make for the most scrumptious television. Though, I feel most for the “mostly nice” Kacie Boguskie—a woman for whom I was rooting throughout this season.
As for scrumptious, my Dulce de Leche Cheesecake bars didn’t come close. There wasn’t enough of that dense, stick to the roof of your mouth, sour cream blulk. Good cheesecake should feel like “blulka” and have the consistency of a block, with a wet lingering of cold soured cream. These squares were silken but lacked the back of the throat milk web. All in all, it was a day of stalls. My movie didn’t finish burning onto the DVD-R disc in time. I arrived at girl movie night with subpar squares and old movies. But my spirits were lifted around a kitchen table, a group of women in our pajamas, so wrapped up in talk and pizza that we never made our way to the movie theater room. It’s lovely the way a day can turn, even in the middle of the night.
Today, it’s raining, and I’m snuggled inside on the sofa, in pompom socks, cross-legged beneath the quilt my truly generous Austin friends made for me, and I feel so loved. Everyone should have such a quilt, and such friends.