Making Dinner For Your 20 Year Old BF Is Cute, Right? Wrong!

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It all started out very romantic; it was my last night with my boyfriend, Ryland, before he left to go back home for the summer. We both knew this day was coming after spending the past 5 glorious months together with nothing between us but a 5-15 minute drive, depending on how fast my hybrid Honda civic could get me there. So, we did what any two (seemingly) sophisticated 20 year old adults would do and planned a candlelit homemade dinner to bide our time with on our last night together (world’s tiniest violin cue here). But like most (if not all) life events, our night didn’t go quite as planned.

We planned all of of this a solid two days in advance, which by our standards, was record breaking. Ryland’s favorite dish is chicken Cordon Bleu, so we decided to make just that – all the while telling myself, “It’s just chicken. You got this” (right? wrong). I told my bf that I would take care of getting the necessary groceries to make the recipe, which is about the most domestic thing I’ve done as a #20yrold. Around 8pm Ryland was on his way over, so I turned on the oven in our 50 year old kitchen with a fluorescent light that has been burnt out for about 2 months now. It is also worth mentioning that the burnt out light fixture was home to a family of about 15 crickets. We called them our “frenemies”, since we slowly began to grow accustomed to the soft lull of cricketing on those hot spring nights. Everything was perfectly in place, and then Ry walked in and we got to cooking.

First step was to prep the chicken. We took the chicken breasts out of their wrapping, and I realized that we needed to pound them but where was the meat hammer (more commonly known as a meat tenderizer) ?? No meat hammer (or tenderizer for that matter) to be found, so my bf thinks that using his hands to pound the chicken will probably work. Nope, wrong. So what does a handy woman like myself do? I grab the (unfortunately) empty Jack Daniels fifth out of the recycling bin, give it a good scrub with some dishwashing soap, and go to town on the chicken breasts. All is well that ends well right? Wrong. Turns out I bought the wrong ham. Who knew James Dean ham steaks weren’t what the recipe called for? But whatever, I decided to start on the veggies, so I threw some carrots and a couple sweet potatoes in the oven. Next we were instructed to use toothpicks to pin together the sides of the chicken breasts, so the Swiss cheese and ham (thankfully we had some leftover Oscar Meyer in the fridge- roommates to the rescue) wouldn’t fall out. No toothpicks??? No problem!! We just smushed those babies together, set the timer (as instructed) for 30 minutes, put a lid on and hoped for the best. Now we had some downtime, so (since we think we’re pretty bougie at this point) we sat down to have a nice glass of the best pinot noir that our local Albertson’s had to offer.

Fast forward to 30 minutes later. Our chicken is burnt to a crisp. The sweet potatoes are soggy. And the carrots are so burnt we could have lit the candles with them. But after trying so hard and having everything literally turn to sh*t, I still look back on this night fondly. I laughed so hard I cried, and I consoled Ry by telling him that no matter where we were in 50 years, we would look back on this night as “The night we tried to tenderize a chicken breast with a Jack Daniels bottle”. For all you other 20 year olds out there just know that if you’re not getting everything right you’re not alone. At the end of a long day, maybe things didn’t go as planned but try to laugh at your failures and smile at your triumphs- no matter how big or small. We all have A LOT of time to make mistakes, and (hopefully) you also have a few loved ones to be there for you when you do.

PSA: We still ate the chicken after pulling off the burnt skin, and Ryland, being the sweetheart that he is, said that soggy sweet potatoes are actually his favorite.


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