One man’s fast is another man’s feast

One man’s fast is another man’s feast

by Lisa Smith Molinari
The Meat and Potatoes of Life

“What should I make for dinner?” I asked my Navy retiree husband, Francis, the other day, like I have a million times in our 29-year marriage.

“I’m not having dinner tonight,” he replied with an expression of disciplined superiority — a most unusual response from Francis, who was not one to turn down meals. In fact, his love for pasta, pizza, bread, cheeseburgers, hoagies, sausages, meatloaf, anything drenched in mayonnaise, cookies, peanuts and cheese and crackers was well known in our family.

Sensing my shock and confusion, Francis explained, “A medical assistant is coming tomorrow morning at eight-thirty to do a health check that’s required for our new life insurance policy to be approved. She has to do vitals, a blood draw, a urine sample, and I’m supposed to fast for twelve hours beforehand. So, I’m just going to have a snack for dinner,” he said, proud of himself for going the extra mile.

We’d made the decision to get more life insurance a while back, after I told Francis I was nervous that, God forbid anything should happen to him, I’d be left with our large mortgage payment, my small second income from two jobs, and would likely be forced sell the house and move again.

He made the mistake of suggesting, “You could just turn the house into a bed and breakfast.” I reminded him that I neglected my career as a lawyer to follow him around for 28 years of active duty service in the Navy through 11 moves, took the primary role in raising our three children and maintaining our various homes, and currently have two part-time jobs that keep me far too busy to “just turn the house into a bed and breakfast.”

We contacted our financial manager who, after admonishing us for not buying more life insurance a long time ago, set us up with new policies. The health check was required before the policies would activate.

After announcing his fast, Francis foraged in the pantry for the “light snack” he’d decided would be a substitute for his normal dinner, and toddled off to the living room to watch reruns of “House Hunters.”

An hour later, I found him lying across the love seat with a load of crumbs on his sweater. “You should watch this one with me,” he said, supporting his head with one folded arm and holding a glass of bourbon on ice in the other, “they’re buying a house in Charleston.” I noticed two empty bags on the floor — one for tortilla chips and one for cheese popcorn. “I finished off a couple snacks that had already been opened,” he explained as if he’d done our family some kind of favor.

I was in the kitchen baking cookies with our daughters when Francis sneaked back to the pantry. “Are you sure you don’t want a little dinner?” I offered, but he waved me off, refreshed his cocktail and returned to the living room cradling something under his arm.

I found him later, with a bag of gingersnaps on his chest, chewing one and holding the next one between his thumb and forefinger. There was a jar of dry-roasted peanuts wedged between his hip and the love seat cushion. “It’s not eight-thirty yet,” he mumbled through chomps, “I still have a few more minutes left.”

At nine-fifteen, I was in the laundry room when I heard our daughters yell, “Dad, you’re supposed to be fasting!” I poked my head into the kitchen to see Francis foraging in the cheese drawer of the refrigerator.

“Honey!” I blared, worried that his blood test was already coursing with salt, alcohol and sugar. “Why didn’t you just eat dinner?” He tsked and moped back to the loveseat.

A week later, Francis thumped down the stairs from his office and haughtily announced, “Our new life insurance policy was approved!” Although his intonation said “How dare you doubt me!” the look on his face showed unmistakable relief. I was relieved that I would no longer be required to “just turn the house into a bed and breakfast.”

“So,” Francis asked with an unflinching tone of self-satisfaction, “What’s for dinner?”
Read more at the website and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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