Meals Men Have Made Me ||| Tupelo Quarterly

Broccoli eggs in bed after this boy managed to break through my nervousness and dignity so I’d actually have sex with him instead of simply canoodling on the couch for hours. The eggs were delicious, and he spooned them into my mouth. This made me feel loved and less sore. Or nicely sore. He shrugged over the eggs: certainly, he knew how to cook. He’d make meals for me all the time if I liked. This also made me feel loved and hopeful about a future with him although he seemed an unlikely prospect. As it turned out, he was kind of likely. He did love me, and he stayed. But he didn’t cook many things as well as those eggs.


Quiche Miguel. That was my first time for quiche. You can imagine how long ago. A friend of my brother’s chopped mushrooms and onions on a picnic table. My brother was living in a teepee on someone’s land. I said, “Quiche Lorraine?” since I knew “Lorraine” went with “Quiche.” My brother’s friend said, “Quiche Miguel” because Miguel was his name. I chose to sleep with him over another of my brother’s friends. I’ve wondered what would have happened if I had picked the guitar-playing poet, but probably nothing good either. The quiche-making artist wore hip vintage shirts though he didn’t walk me to the bus stop in the Mission. And he made noises during sex, like a woman. I thought I should like that, but I didn’t.


An entire dinner of chicken. Chunks of bread on the side. I think he’d meant to make something more—a salad or a side dish—but it hadn’t worked out somehow. The chicken came from a recipe by a famous author, a fact he kept repeating to the small dinner party. There were cat hairs all over his burgundy couch, and one of the guests looked reluctant to drop her jacket. I cringed throughout the meal: What a disaster! He must feel terrible! After the others left, I waited for him to confess his mortification, but he seemed pleased with the chicken and with his cat, and he still didn’t seem to want me to live with him.


These days my guy usually doesn’t cook for me per se, but he knows he’s supposed to offer me a portion of his food. When he makes himself two cheese sandwiches, he gives me either half of one, or, if I insist, a quarter, because I don’t want to eat that much cheese and mayonnaise. Each bite is delightful: fatty, stolen cherries. I like most of all when there’s a momentary reluctance in his wrist as he hands me some fraction of his sandwich. I don’t like it when he objects outright, which, amazingly, he still does upon occasion. I don’t like it when he automatically gives me half a sandwich with a napkin. I want to ask him for something he’s made for himself and to take my marriage-due: he must share his food with me or admit that he never should have made me eggs in the first place.


Cathleen Calbert’s poetry and prose have appeared in many publications, including Ms. Magazine, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly, andThe Women’s Review of Books. She is the author of three books of poetry: Lessons in Space (University of Florida Press), Bad Judgment (Sarabande Books), and Sleeping with a Famous Poet (C.W. Books). She has been awarded The Nation Discovery Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Mary Tucker Thorp Award from Rhode Island College, where she is a Professor of English.

Meals Men Have Made Me” originally appeared on Tupelo Quarterly.