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Jen’s Friday Night Insights: Home Alone

by Jen Polvogt

The following is a true story about my struggles when my husband goes out of town. And the struggle is real, folks. 

I don’t cook. Period. And I’ve never been the primary cook in my relationships. It’s not that I can’t cook. It’s just that I don’t want to. The whole thing feels so laborious and boring. And the food never tastes as good as when someone cooks for me. 

So, imagine my delight when I met a guy who cooked for a living! It was one of the many qualities that I was looking for in a partner. I had been single all of seven months when we met, and I was starving!

The contents of my fridge consisted of string cheese, milk and Coors Light. I’m not kidding. I would make a protein shake for breakfast, eat out for lunch and grab Arby’s on my way home from work. And, if I got hungry late at night, I would munch on string cheese. 

Now, before we get too much farther, please understand that my sister is the same way. My dad made the majority of the meals when we were growing up, so that was what we were used to. The man of the house cooked, the kids did the dishes and the lady of the house worked tirelessly to build her own business. It should be noted that my dad also built his own business and worked extremely hard, but generally, he was able to stick to a 9-5 work schedule. 

Our meals growing up weren’t fancy, and they weren’t varied. We ordered pizza or Chinese once or twice a year, and all other meals were made at home. Oh, and we occasionally went out to eat, but that was a rare treat. My parents never saw the necessity in spending money on things we could do ourselves. My dad’s response any time we asked to go out for a meal was, “Sure! I have the perfect place. The Johnson Family Restaurant!” All four of his kids’ eyes would simultaneously roll, and we knew we’d be eating at home. 

Spaghetti, burgers, chicken and flank steak were dinner staples, and they were almost always served with a side salad and baked potato. Breakfast was cereal, eggs or, on a special day, cinnamon and sugar toast! Lunch was typically a PB&J, or we could eat from the cafeteria. The cupboards and fridge were always filled with healthy snacks, so we would go wild at our friends’ houses that had exciting things like Goldfish Crackers, Twinkies and Dr. Pepper instead of Red Vines and rice crackers. 

I was a waitress in college, so I always had a guaranteed meal on the days when I worked, and I had a meal card for the cafeteria when I wasn’t working. I moved home after college and married my high school sweetheart the summer after I graduated. My then-husband cooked, and, bless my heart, I tried to cook. I watched cooking shows, went grocery shopping and tried to provide delicious, home-cooked meals. But I hated it. 

That marriage lasted a little over a year (not because of my disdain for cooking), and I found myself alone in a new apartment with a six-pack of Pyramid Apricot Ale and a Jr. Roast Beef combo meal from Arby’s. 

Like I said, I was starving when I met the new guy. 

He worked as a cook at a local pizza and beer joint that was right down the street from my apartment. I would meet up with a couple of my guy friends several nights a week, and we would throw back Coors Light, eat burgers and pizza, while of course, watching football. It was great! And also expensive. And loaded with calories. I had lost 40 pounds when I left my husband, but that was quickly reversing with all the beer and pizza. 

New plan. I decided I would give cooking for myself a try. I bought a small grill, a package of lean pork chops and some veggies. It was fine. I would binge my Sex and the City DVDs and eat my pork chop. Washing it all down with a cold Coors Light, of course. Have I mentioned yet that I grew up in Golden, Colorado, home of Coors?

I had no intention of dating immediately after my divorce, and I swore I’d never get married again. I was 24 years old and so naive. So when I met the future “Mr. Jen,” I wasn’t looking for him, but it was fate. And he cooked! 

Codependency is real. But it doesn’t have to carry a negative connotation. My husband and I have been inseparable for the last two years of our 11-year marriage. And apparently, that’s called codependency. It works for us though.

I decided to quit my well-paying job to stay at home with my family and watch my son grow up. My husband cooks every meal, and you’ll be comforted to know, I’m no longer starving. 

Unless he’s traveling. Then I’m in an all-out panic attack because I know I’ll be starving while he’s gone. He goes on an annual hunting trip with my dad and brothers, leaving me to fend for myself. We always set good intentions and plan meals for when he’s gone, but it never works out. He’s gone on this five-day annual hunting trip for a decade. A decade, people! And I still can’t get my poop in a group, act like an adult and feed myself. 

Not this time though! He left this morning, and I’ve got a plan. A pathetic plan, perhaps, but I’m determined to reach deep down inside and be the woman who used to run a $92 million business. If I can do that, I can take care of myself. Right?

A hard-boiled egg for breakfast. Easy. A spinach, apple and blueberry smoothie for lunch. Then leftover soup one night, a salad one night, salmon one night, and as a throwback to my college days, I’ll toss in a Totino’s party pizza just for good measure. 

It’s going to be fine. Right? Yes. It’s going to be fine. Stay tuned to see how I survived four days of feeding myself!

Speaking of survival, let’s talk about some football. 

Jen’s Week 9 Friday Night Insights

What a (bye) week. I just can’t catch a break! I’m very mindful of bye weeks when I’m drafting. But as we know, the injuries have plagued us all this season, and sometimes there are weeks when we just have to pick up whoever is available. Sound familiar?

This week I have Boston Scott, Jarvis Landry, Richard Rodgers, Gerald Everett and Dallas Goedert on vacation. And now starts the great scramble of the week. 

Leonard Fournette (RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

While Leonard Fournette isn’t my top-choice running back of the week, he’ll have to do. He’s been hot and cold this season when he’s playing. Last week’s matchup against the New York Giants provided him with 52 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards and no touchdowns. 

The word “meh” comes to mind when thinking about his performance. However, on the bright side, he had 74% of the snap count and could turn out to be Tom Brady‘s little darling as the Bucs head into Week 9 against the New Orleans Saints. 

Jakobi Meyers (WR, New England Patriots)

Jakobi Meyers hasn’t been the star of the show in New England, but I’m hopeful things will change for him in Week 9. He’ll be playing nicely with his fellow receiver Damiere Byrd as their buddy N’Keal Harry potentially rides the bench, nursing the concussion he received last week against the Buffalo Bills. 

Meyers saw 58 yards, with six receptions in that matchup and showed promise. As the team heads to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to face the New York Jets (weird, right?), Jakobi Meyers could have a breakout game. 

I always end my columns with a game day drink, and this week is no different. 

I’m here to join the conversation, drink in hand and watch this crazy COVID-19 year unfold. Cheers!

Game Day Drink Recipe for the Week:

Sex and the City Cosmopolitan

  • 2 oz citron vodka (plain vodka will not taste as good)
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz cranberry juice
  • 1 lime wedge, squeezed
  • orange peel for garnish
  • Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for about a minute. 
  • Pour into a chilled martini glass (we put ours in the freezer for 10-15 minutes ahead of time) Garnish with orange peel and enjoy!

Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter for more motherly and fantasy sports advice @JenPolvogt.

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