Mac and cheese, my old enemy, we meet again.

Photo courtesy of Jspatchwork on Flickr.
Actually, I can’t believe how many pictures there are of mac and cheese on Flickr. People love it so much that they’re taking photos of it. Gross.

I cannot say it loud enough: I hate mac and cheese.

Hate it. Detest it. Loathe it in the way some people shy away from rats or snakes or spiders. I don’t like spiders either but give me a choice between a house spider and a bowl of Kraft and I’ll take the spider every time.

I realize this places me in a very small subset of humanity. Most people not only like mac and cheese, they adore it. That’s weird to me. How can you like ingesting a bowl of slimy, orange-yellow noodles covered in fake-cheese?

As a child, I honestly thought that it was only my brother who loved mac and cheese, because he was my brother and therefore a weirdo. Anyhow, as my  brother, I expected that he’d love all the things I hated, just to be difficult.

But then I went away to college.

Lo and behold, everyone there was stocking up on mac and cheese , eating it on rainy days and singing its damn praises. I’d done a pretty good job of avoiding mac and cheese  up until that point, but it was  everywhere in my dorm. In my room. In the hall garbage can. Dishes caked with the orange residue of mac and cheese clogged the bathroom sinks. Microwaves smelled of it. It was like being in a Kraft horror movie. All of a sudden I realized that my brother was not the weird one. I was the freak show. It became clear that I was The Only Mac & Cheese Hater in The World.

Oh come off it, you might be saying. So you didn’t like a food and a lot of other people like it. Get over yourself.

Am I being a big baby about this one particular food? Oh yes. Completely. I choose to be stoic about other things I don’t like: violence, chicken soup, traffic, fires. But the smell of macaroni and cheese? It makes my gorge rise.

My hatred of mac and cheese was so bad when I was a kid that my mother, an Irish-Italian matriarch of the Clean Your Plate vintage, wouldn’t make me eat it if she was serving it for dinner.

This isn’t to say that the poor woman didn’t try to overcome my mac and cheese aversions. At first she took my dislike as a challenge. She and my dad figured okay, I hated Kraft Mac and Cheese, let’s make this kid some real macaroni and cheese from scratch before she develops a phobia. (If you’ve read this far, you know that approach didn’t work.)

They made scores of recipes. Some had meat in them. Some had vegetables. All of them had cheeses I liked in different dishes. Some were baked. Some not.  I remember thinking that one dish in particular was tolerable, so my mother made it again, but the second time I had a very hard time choking it down.

My father tried to reason with me, based on my love of Italian food. “Ann,” he said, “you like lazy lasagna.* Lazy lasagna has both macaroni and cheese in it.”

I chose not to hear this, but even so, it made me suspicious of any noodle not covered in tomato sauce.

In the end, my parents gave up, and I was allowed not to eat mac and cheese at dinner, which was a great relief.
I guessed that as I grew up  and moved out into the world, I’d meet other mac and cheese haters and we’d form our own little mac and cheese haters’ club, but that was not the case. Because apparently the rest of humanity loves it some Kraft.

By the time I was out of school, I was afraid that I’d be turning down mac and cheese for the rest of my life, trying to suppress the awful faces my inner child wants to make at the site of the dish, when I was served a big piece of luck: when I was 25, I was diagnosed as being intolerant to both gluten and lactose. Hallelujah! I sure missed eating pizza, but it was worth it, because now no one would expect me to eat mac and cheese.

But recently, gluten-free technology caught up with me.

Right now, there are a bunch of mac and cheese restaurants out there. Some entrepreneurial hipsters thought that would be a great recession idea, I guess – comfort food during a time of need. A mac and cheese bar would be like the seventh ring of gastronomical hell to me, but fine, I’m allergic to everything in those places, so no worries.

But no. Because the considerate proprietors of these restaurants have created gluten free menus. And even worse? Kraft has also changed its ways. The awful orange cheese sauce? It’s gluten free. And people are cooking it over brown rice pasta.

Terrifying.

In conclusion, I will not come to your birthday party if you have it at one of these restaurants. Please don’t be mad at me; it’s really better if I’m not there. And if you show up at my house with a packet of GF Kraft sauce, I won’t be there. I will be hiding under a rock with a bunch of spiders.

*Lazy lasagna is a casserole made with tomato sauce, a lot of cheeses and ziti. It is nothing like mac and cheese.

Evite is Dead, or, Why My Husband Should Join Facebook.

My husband refuses to join Facebook.

That’s his choice, and I’ve been supportive, but man,  I wish he would join. Not because I think he needs to bond with Internet friends, or because I think he should communicate with long-lost buddies and ex-girlfriends, or even because I think the online world should be exposed to his unique brand of humor.*

It’s because Facebook has eclipsed Evite as a way of inviting people to events.
There was a time when my email inbox was cluttered with Evites. Evites for parties. Evites for work events. Evites for things I needed to cover for work. A long time ago, I got one Evite a week.

Alas, the golden age of Evite is over. An informal survey of my inbox reveals that in 2009, I got nine or 10 Evites. In 2010 I got three. Last year I got six – which is so many that I’m afraid I’ve miscounted.

You know how many Evites I’ve gotten in 2012? One. That’s because everyone is sending Facebook event invites instead. And that is why my husband really needs to join Facebook.

Let’s take this week for example. One of my husband’s friends is hosting a Depends-themed party.

I can’t make it to this event. I will be hanging out at the other end of the maturity scale that day, dispensing spatulas and marital advice at a bridal shower. So no Depends for me.** My husband, however, is going. (To the party. Not at the party. Although you never know, the invitation promises that anyone not in a diaper by dusk will be voted off the island.) The problem? I am the one who has all the details about where and when and who’s providing the pack of Depends, because I’m the one on Facebook.

This has happened with other events. I believe I once got a bachelor party invitation on Facebook. I’ve occasionally gotten communication for him through Facebook, because apparently Facebook’s sneaky tactics are working and FB  messages are also eclipsing traditional email.

You may think that my objections to my husband’s Facebook boycott stem from the fact that I don’t like being his secretary. That’s only 20 percent true. Yeah, the part of me that’s a hairy-legged overalls-weraring 1970s second-wave feminist objects to taking messages for my husband. But that’s not the real problem.

The real issue goes a little something like this: I don’t even look at my event invitations on Facebook.

I get so many random invites from bands and local organizations I covered when I was a local arts journalist, that I don’t register events anymore. When I see I have event invites, my brain blocks them from view as it does with junk mail and spam. They are invisible, and I wouldn’t have even noticed the Depends party invitation if the host hadn’t accosted me in person last week:

“Are you guys coming to my party?”

Uh-oh. “Party?”

“I sent you an invite.”

I panicked  and racked my brain. What invitations have come through my inbox? Have I looked? It must be on my phone, right? Luckily, his party has a pretty distinctive title.

“Was the word ‘poop’ in the event title?”

He grinned. Another Facebook event crisis averted.

So what’s the moral of this story? That Facebook is taking over all kinds of Internet services, from email to evite to the sort of social networking once provided by Friendster, I guess. Or maybe the moral is that if you’re married to someone who refuses to Facebook, you might end up being his Facebook receptionist. Or maybe it’s that you should always insert words that stand out in the titles of your Facebook invites. Like “poop.”

*It should.

** At least not yet.