Yes, I know that is misspelled. Despite the kindly urgings of many friends, family, and mental health professionals to “just suck it up and write something” and the ridiculous ease with which any old moron (or mormon) can start a blog of their very own (read: this) [no seriously, read this], my crippling fear of writing anything for public consumption has kept me confined to the vast expanses of rambling nonsensical emails which have been littering the inboxes of the aforementioned friends and family for years. So today, I am turning the table (the altar?) on Catholic guilt! I’m using the 40 days of Lent to force myself to write, and to put the results in a place where someone might read them, for 40 days in a row! Now I know Lent was used as the premise of the shitty, “romantic” “comedy” 40 Days and 40 Nights, but this blog is at least predicated on the notion that it will be utterly crappy. And your reading this in no way supports Josh Hartnett or the premise that he’s infinitely bangable. (To me he looks like the lovechild of Ashton Kutcher and Brendan Fraser [What Happens to Encino Man in Vegas?] All fine people I’m sure, but not exactly the boner brigade for me). As a friend pointed out to me, using Lent’s mandatory discipline for something you should be doing anyway is not that bad an idea (i.e. Journey to the Center of That 70’s Show?). So here we are!
Years of Catholicism can probably be credited with the elevated mercury levels in my bloodstream, given the Fridays of fish and fish byproducts we were forced to endure through the dark, cold winter nights of the Pittsburgh Lent. Alternately, it could be my 22nd through 25th years of life on earth during which time tuna, much of it straight from the can, provided my main source of dietary protein. And I do not mean albacore. In any event, every year when fast food chains start advertising the delicacy that is their version of a fish sandwich (filet-o-fish being un-toppably catchy of course), I find myself cringing from muscle memory, experiencing anew the anticipation of weeks and weeks of fishy stuff. Just when the weekend arrived and it seemed like the perfect time for a treat of some kind, something that was 70% cheese maybe, dinner time would deliver the crushing blow of tuna noodle. I have since heard from other friends who enjoyed the austerity of Lenten Fridays that tuna noodle can be good if doctored with appropriate amounts of cheese, fried onion crisps, and other processed foods that have no nutritional value but taste delicious. My mom’s tuna noodle was as unexciting as they came (sorry Mom!). Even the crock in which it baked was the dullest brown that the corningware folks could craft. And then the oppression of cream of mushroom soup baked into an unnatural union with canned tuna. Dread! Somehow I think my family took the denial part of Lent a bit more seriously than most. It was not just abstaining from meat that happened, but often times abstaining from delicious food on the whole. Some friends had pizza or spaghetti or other vegetarian delights, but ours seemed to revolve around the dregs of the sea in their many many forms. The stuff that whales have baleen to prevent ingesting. Those fish.
Fishsticks were a treat! They at least had enough fat injected at the factory (or on the boat by Captain Gorton himself) to taste good. Once, thanks to a new recipe featured in the Sunday paper, we had a tuna pie. My mom makes the absolute hell out of a homemade pie crust. Delicious. Truly delicious. And so this recipe called for throwing the equivalent of a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, the same Lenten can of Cream of Mushroom Soup (I swear there must be an Archbishop Campbell somewhere to explain such excessive loyalty), and can of tuna into a pie crust and baking it all together in one awesome homage to asceticism. I had thirds! What a fantastic way to disguise the taste of tuna! Raves. The recipe won raves for Mom. What a master of making the meager meaty! And maybe that was the problem. Perhaps our joy was too apparent. We must have been too happy to eat that stuff, happy like we were Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Because I swear we never saw that tuna pie again. Mom was looking out for the nourishment of our souls, I’m sure. And cream of mushroom soup was probably 10 for $1.49 if I had to guess. In any event, it is fitting that now Lent brings me right back to something fishy, and probably not that satisfying upon finishing. Oh well. Using my tuna noodle feels fine.