“Were you starved as a child or something?” husband-head looked at me quizzically as we loaded bag after bag of groceries from the truck into the house. “This is enough to feed everyone on the cast of Titanic.”I just smiled because it’s true that I grocery shop – a lot.Mainly, it’s because cooking is kind of a hobby for me, but this particular trip was in preparation for some long-distance friends that were coming by that evening on their way through town.”For God’s sake, they’re only going to be here for one night, not one month,” husband-head complained, shaking his head in amazement. “It always gets eaten,” I assured him. “If not, we’ll send the brussels sprouts to the starving kids in India.”That’s the logic my mother used to use when trying to guilt me into eating the green vegetables on my plate. …”I’ll bet no matter how hungry they are, THEY won’t eat them, either” I used to reason.But with plenty of food and beer stocked up, we were ready to receive our guests.When they arrived shortly after 8 p.m., they were hungry, so I offered to fix them something to eat.”Can I make you a panini sandwich? How about grilled steak or chicken? Lasagna? Shrimp scampi?” I said, opening up my large, well-stocked refrigerator. “You can have whatever you want!”Our friend, Mark, just stared at the contents.”Well, I can’t eat anything with wheat in it because of my allergies,” he informed me. “So that means no bread or beer.”OK.”And I’m lactose-intolerant, so I can’t have any milk products or cheese,” he continued.The viable contents of my fridge were quickly diminishing.”And Tiffany doesn’t eat meat or anything with animal by-products,” he said, still staring at what was now an entire refrigerator stuffed with things that the couple couldn’t consume.The digestive houseguests from hell. …They had also brought their 3-year-old son and their very large chocolate Labrador retriever.”Honey, do you want an ice cream bar?” I asked the 3-year-old, trying to pretend that I liked kids.”Oh no,” his mother interrupted. “No sweets after dark. He’ll be bouncing off the walls.”So I tried the dog.”Who wants a treat?” I asked, petting their big, sweet-faced Lab.”No, he’s on a diet,” they both informed me. “He only gets dry food with organic pumpkin mixed in for fiber.”Yeah, that’s what I have in my pantry.At this point, I was ready for a large shot of whiskey, which is something that I don’t normally consume, either. …And then I remembered several years ago when we had gone camping with this couple, and I had been shocked when I watched them eat flower petals for dinner while husband-head and I did the traditional hamburgers on the grill.”I totally FORGOT! that they were the petal people!” I hissed to husband-head, as they continued to stand in front of the refrigerator, not finding a thing to eat after my massive shopping trip.”They’ll FIND something!” husband-head whispered back. “Plus, I just landscaped out front – there are plenty of flower petals out there.”Still, I felt bad that I didn’t have anything to offer our guests.”Ummm, I’m fresh out of wheat germ,” I lied, as I’ve never purchased that product in my life. “But perhaps I could offer you a bean sprout?”Or an organic dog turd?But taking in their dietary restrictions, I mentally calculated that we were down to eggs, vegetables or salad.Which, in the end, is what they got.Heidi Rice is a staff reporter for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her Web site at http://www.heidirice.com.
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