Honey, look at me. No, really, put down the fennel and look at me. Fine, I'll stop the clock.
I know the past few months have been difficult, and I want to start by once again pledging to support you no matter what you do. Nothing comes easy, and I admire your persistence toward a new career. I'm sorry I ever doubted you. The regular paychecks were nice, but your happiness is what matters most.
Looking back, I shouldn't have chuckled when we watched that first episode of Chopped Champions and you said one day you would be on that stage delighting the judges. I should have later noted the wildfire in your eyes and the disturbing way you mumbled "divinely inspired dish." What I took as an innocuous post dessert wine comment may one day be the start of a long witness testimonial.
Don't get me wrong, it was fun at first. You had a spring in your step and I appreciated your willingness to cook the family dinner. Every day seemed like a new adventure. We even made it a family affair. Timmy and I made up the ingredient baskets and I let you go a little crazy with the kitchen appliances. I'll be honest; I started to rethink my misgivings.
Before long, though, the Chopped world your mind inhabited became a vortex. Ingredient lists became more complex and pricey. I was spending so much on dragon fruit and tahini that I couldn't afford white bread and milk. Every day you were coming home with odd shipments of meats and strange root vegetables. Our kitchen space extended well into the living room and parts of the bathroom. Even our medicine cabinet is now devoid of life-saving pills while heavily stocked with spices. Let's just hope the next time I come home to another one of your "renovations" that thyme can quell my anxiety as well as Cymbalta.
Speaking of anxiety, dinner time has become a perpetual source of it. There's no telling what will be on the plate after the allotted 35 minutes. I keep telling you to take your time, but you insist upon "respecting the clock." But what about respecting yourself? When you cut yourself julienning twizzlers too quickly I was certain it meant we'd be ordering Chinese food, but before I could finish my mental order of delicious sweet and sour chicken, I witnessed you throwing on a latex glove. The blood pooled around your wrist and you pretended not to hear my pleas. That night was spent in the ER waiting for you to get your finger sewn up and eating lukewarm twizzler and plum stuffed chicken from a tupperware container. 'Til death do us part.
Let's not forget how hard this is on Timmy. He's a growing boy who needs his nutrients. He's a picky eater as it is and now he can't even rely on the classics. Fish sticks and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are childhood staples that he's missing out on because they lack "complexity of flavor." Even when you do make something he likes, I worry that you're scarring him. Sometimes macaroni and cheese is just macaroni with some cheese mixed in. He shouldn't have to pick around the octopus. Not to mention how his tears made the dish far too salty.
Or the time you served us rocky mountain oysters with a mango glaze. Think what this meant for our son. Children can be cruel as it is, now imagine Timmy arriving at school with a brown bag of leftover testicles. And when he does speak out against a dish, I fear your reactions are too extreme. Yes, Timmy may have been out of line questioning your plating techniques, but you didn't have to ground him for a week. He's just a boy, he doesn't understand parsley like you do.
My stomach is in knots. I've had food poisoning seven times and my taste aversions are growing by the day. As I edit your latest Chopped video submission my hands quake. Malnourishment aside, I want our old family back. I miss the tableside jokes and pleasantries as we share a meal together. No more timers. No more bloody gloves. No more judging. I fear what may happen to this family if this goes on much longer. At night I dream of filling the station wagon with Hungry-Man dinners and a microwave and driving west.
What I'm really saying is: I love you. I'll support you no matter what. I'll put up with mood swings, mountains of debt, a child who now fears dinner, and piles of inedible food. All of this for you, dear. If this is what you want I will stand beside you for eternity.
But today, God today, can we just order a pizza?