A Little Slice of Life – Piranhas in the Pantry

by Patrick Dykie

     My wife works long hours as a nurse in a hospital, and I’ve learned to chip in with chores around the house. One of my jobs is to do all the grocery shopping, clip coupons, look for specials at the supermarket, keep the refrigerator full of an assortment of meats, cheeses and fruits, and provide a pantry stocked with dry goods and essentials. Until I did it for the first time I hadn’t realized what a tough job it really is.

     To all you women who do the family shopping along with cooking, cleaning, endless loads of laundry, raising children, and many times working a full-time job; I salute you. No wonder my wife is always so tired. I pride myself on being a very meticulous and organized person. In my quest to provide a balanced and healthy, but also economical diet for our family, I have done my best to plan for any eventuality. It seems that in my fervor for shopping perfection, I may have overlooked one small problem. It appears I have piranhas in my pantry. You may call them teenage boys.


      Well, maybe they’re not actually piranhas, but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. If you were to ask me the difference between a school of ravenous, meat-eating piranhas, and a group of hungry teenage boys, I would say the only difference is that piranhas will clean their rooms if you ask them to. 

     My teenage son will often have friends over, and my wife will inevitably tell them to make themselves at home. I would like to visit some of these homes to see if they all have empty refrigerators, barren shelves, drained containers of juice and milk, and garbage cans full of empty bags, cartons and boxes. Make yourself at home? Do these teenagers call the “Old Country Buffet,” home?

     After the teenagers have left my wife will smile and say, “Honey, they’re just growing boys.” As I view the empty shelves and furiously scribble down items to replenish as I plan an emergency shopping trip, I think to myself,

“Growing boys? I thought they were bamboo or something. They give new meaning to the phrase, growing like a weed. If they grow any more, I’ll be broke, and their heads will be poking through the roof.” 


     I have learned a few things about the hearty appetites of teenage boys. You may think that when teenage boys are on the hunt for life-sustaining nourishment, that like piranhas, they will indiscriminately feed on the nearest, and most convenient food. If you were to take a high-speed camera and slow it down, you would see something different.

     Teenage boys are actually quite selective. I call it the “$5.99 rule.” The rule in its simplest terms is this. Teenage boys will search for, grab and ingest the most expensive items first. That $3.99 per pound bologna is safe for the moment, as is the bargain brand apple juice, and anything green, including lettuce. The first foods in the refrigerator to go are the gallon of pure Tropicana orange juice, the delicious Italian roast beef, the large chunk of Muenster cheese, the Ben and Jerry’s cookies and cream ice cream, and the last two slices of Sicilian piazza with the extra mushrooms that you hid way in the back behind the skim milk, and the low-fat pineapple yogurt. Teenage boys also love hard-boiled eggs, red delicious apples, and fruit on the bottom, blueberry yogurt. 

     The pantry is then emptied of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies, soft and fluffy, white Wonder bread, Ritz crackers, and the last box of blueberry Pop Tarts. 


      I think I found another difference between piranhas and hungry teenage boys. The piranhas will at least leave the bones! My son and his friends just headed out to McDonald’s for a snack, and I’m left with the job of refilling the refrigerator and pantry. Let me get a pencil and paper, and start my list. Hmmm……. interesting. The leftover meatloaf from last night, the okra, a few brown grapes, some cheese with green mold, my prune juice, and the glob of tofu are still here. Hey, look; I see that cheap bologna I bought last week. Maybe I can find some end pieces of bread, and make a sandwich. Darn, now where is that mustard.

2 Comments to “A Little Slice of Life – Piranhas in the Pantry”

  1. As I recall, there is no such thing as hiding in the back of the refrigerator when teenaged boys are in residence.

  2. You must have some experience with hungry teenage boys. I had to learn the hard way that nothing is safe. Especially something that is thick, cheesy, and delicious. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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