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Quiet Desperation

Musing about numbing nourishment is food for thought, or thought for food


There's comfort food and there's discomfort food.

Sometimes one precedes the other.

I am still trying to figure out what discomfort food led to this narrative. Usually I can look back, and finger the wrongdoer. But not this time.

I woke with a stomachache, felt old and useless, and didn't feel like doing anything.

But when you live alone, you'd better roust at some point, because no one is headed your way with soup.

The Washington Post (2014) reported that there are more Americans living alone than ever before.

In the 1920s it was roughly 5 percent. Now it's more than 27 percent. In Manhattan and Washington, D.C., it's closer to 50 percent.

If you have looked into this, you know that aging alone raises health and safety issues.

In my instance, the good news is that I do not live in the woods, or on a farm in the middle of nowhere.

My episode, which passed (he said), made me commiserate with anyone who can't get up and about without pain. Or anyone who cannot get up at all.

I've seen that.

My misery accomplished something else. It kept me off of the computer and my nose out of the news.

The news has never been this sour. I can't seem to get any relief. Maybe the trick, occasionally, is to eat a stuffed pepper or a smothered burrito.

Current events hold little consequence when you are unwell.

Was a time when I drank to extricate myself. I went to time zones where the clocks are all counterclockwise.

Somehow or other, I have gathered just enough wisdom to get beyond that.

But I don't know exactly what I would do if I was mostly immobilized. I read about people who live it out with courage, no matter what they are up against.

I don't think the arrow is pointing in that direction.

When I felt fit again, I thought about comfort food.

What is your comfort food? Here in America it might be different than what an ailing Norwegian asks for.

An ailing Norwegian might want puffin.

Comfort food is typically associated with childhood or home cooking.

We all experience very different childhoods, however.

The Smiths were middle-class, and we ate middle-class meals.

When little Princess Charlotte of Cambridge isn't feeling it, what might she ring for? It can't be macaroni and cheese.

Macaroni and cheese comes out on top in the United States. Meatloaf is in there too, along with sweets, especially ice cream.

Further on down the line are clams. Much further down.

Diners, which are disappearing, are the beneficent angels of comfort food.

I will write a poem to mashed potatoes and gravy. Chicken and dumplings? I am working on a song.

Just keep spicy food away from my door, when the ague is on me, even though your intentions might be kindly.

Unless, of course, you want to keep me down.

One of my girlfriends preferred me when I was off a bit.

"Craig, I have a new recipe," she would say, and before I caught on to her, I'd have a next-day bout.

This is a get-well card from a stranger. Be yourself and shine on again soon, you crazy diamond.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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