No matter what others believe, I know there’s no such thing as a “harmless” crush.
I know, because I occasionally came to harm as a result of some of my own crushes during my lifetime. I don’t just mean heartache, I mean physical pain. In college, the object of my unrequited affection was a forestry major who was also a talented guitar player and singer. So, when he and my two best friends invited me on a three-day trek on the Appalachian Trail, I jumped at the chance to spend some isolated quality time with him. I got the isolation – not so much the quality.
As I huffed and puffed up hill and dale, I carried a pack that seemed to be filled with cement. Close. Turns out he had filled it with two bread bags stuffed with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Whole loaves of it. The Trail was gorgeous. The crush was over by the time I threw my exhausted and somewhat stinky body into my dorm bunk on my return.
A couple of years later, I agreed to a group canoe day trip on the James River because, yep, my fellow paddler was going to be a really nice guy I couldn’t wait to impress with my paddling prowess. When his best friend’s partner begged out at the last minute, he decided to paddle with him instead. I was paired with a guy who had never been in a canoe before, yet insisted on steering “because you are a woman and not strong enough.” Long journey short, we tumbled over in a tricky rapid, I lost my glasses and cut a gash nearly three inches long in my calf. The other two guys not only did not act gallantly and come to my aid, but actually laughed at me as I stood on the bank, blind, bleeding and furious. I had never felt more dejected than I did when I limped into my apartment that night.
Food, of course, was the only solace that could fill the ache in my ego and calf. I set about whipping up a dish I had thrown together one day in college and lazily named Vegetable Mess. And as I immersed myself in slicing tomatoes and zucchini, grating cheese and ferreting out spices, I forgot about the humiliation – a little. I’ve still got the recipe on a splattered index card, (with a note that it was invented July 28, 1981) and the scar to prove that the course of true love often throws some boulders in your way.
serves one lonely, frustrated, but strong woman
1 small zucchini, sliced into rounds
1 spring onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano and 1 tsp. dried basil
1 cup your choice of spaghetti sauce
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese mix (OK, that wasn’t available in 1981, but it works today)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cover the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish with the zucchini, top with onion and garlic and herbs. Spoon on spaghetti sauce, and half the cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven. Turn on broiler. Top casserole with fresh tomato slices and remaining cheese. Broil until cheese bubbles. Eat it straight from the dish.