“Oh, if you want to get married, you must learn to cook.” Oh, shit. Here we go...
I’d rather do anything than talk to cab drivers (or hair dressers, or bus seat mates or… anyone). I hate small talk. I put in my ear buds and I give short polite answers when necessary.
But sometimes they insist on talking — which is what this cab driver did. So I took this chatty cabby as a sign I needed to practice my small talk.
It started off nicely enough. He asked me about my trip; I told him that I was moving to the city soon. He welcomed me and had lots of opinions about why the move was a good idea. He talked about where his family lived outside the city. I said my parents lived near there.
He was effusive and had lots of opinions.
And I don’t remember why, but at some point he asked me if I cooked.
“Not much, I could definitely cook more.”
Well, he loved to cook. Great. Wonderful. I didn’t care.
But I decided to continue practicing kindly conversing with him. So I asked him what his favorite thing to make was.
He said, “I can cook anything.”
“Yeah, OK, but what do you like to cook the best?”
He went on for way too long about his recipe for stew. I didn’t care. But I listened, throwing in an “Ah, nice” every now and again.
Finally he asked me how old I was — “if I didn’t mind [his] asking.” Whatever.
"How can you be 28? You sure you’re that old?"
Har har. “Yepppp.”
“Can I ask: Do you plan on getting married someday?”
“Oh, if you want to get married, you MUST LEARN TO COOK.”
Oh, shit. Here we go. What do I do? Do I let this slide? Do I accept that this guy is from a different generation and country and culture? Plus, this guy loves to cook, so clearly he isn’t saying that women need to do all the cooking…
So I said jokingly, “Well… What if I marry someone who cooks?”
“No. You still need to learn how to cook.”
OK, let it be said: I can cook. I cook eggs. Pasta. Fish. Greens. Quinoa. Potatoes. Avocado toast (that’s not cooking, I know). Miscellaneous casseroles. I know about the best oils to use for different heats. I own a cast iron pot that I hate cleaning. I once read a book called “An Everlasting Meal.” It was about cooking. Very rarely I make chicken soup from scratch — but I hate the sticky mess.
Truth be told, I used to cook way more when I was into dieting, and now that I’m not, I’m so sick of cooking and thinking about food that I just eat whatever is easy and healthy-ish. I’d rather spend my time doing a million other things.
Oh, but he went on. And instead of responding, I just took out my notes app and took down what he was saying so I could write this article (imagine lots of conviction):
“Real men… We value a woman who can cook over one who can make a lot of money. I can make money — she doesn’t need to make money. If you can cook for the family, that is more valuable. Food is very important to me. Anyone can make money, but the family must eat!”
(I would say, “Ah, interesting,” whenever he would pause to hear what I thought.)
“When a woman cooks, our heart is wherever that person is. If a lady does not know how to cook — trust me — and a lady friend corners that man — and invites him over to prepare food for him to eat — not on purpose — but that man will never come back the same. His mind is somewhere else.
"I don’t care if you are Oprah Winfrey and make a lot of money. To a real man, it's irrelevant.”
I was livid. And also a little stressed out. Oh man, maybe he's right. Maybe I do need to learn how to cook. Maybe this is actually the reason I’ll die alone. Maybe women really can’t live the life they want and be in a healthy relationship? Maybe this man was sent to warn me of the lonely cold unfeminine life I am choosing to live…
Nah. Fuck him.
I do want to cook more. Sort of. Especially when I make enough money to hire someone to clean up after me.
Plus, my hypothetical husband will love eating my avocado toast and being able to relax because I make money, and that I’m happy because I don’t bother stressing myself out making stews I don’t want to make.
And if he goes over my friend’s house, and she cooks for him, and it makes him fall in love with her, she can have him.