On Mac And Cheese

The first thing I learned how to cook was mac and cheese. When I was about ten, we lived in a giant house on a hill. It wasn’t a mansion, but it was a large house with lots of rooms. We had lots of property and horses, too. My stepdad’s daughter was visiting for the weekend. Her name was Allison and she was thirteen.

I was hungry. Allison was busy sneaking cigarettes in the bathroom. Grandmother had a babysitting client that day, so she was occupied. My mom and the truck-driver were doing horse things. I found the mac and cheese in the cabinet, read the directions, and started the process.

The first major mistake I made was not letting the water get hot before I put the noodles in. I hadn’t learned yet that the noodles would stick to the stainless-steel pot if you didn’t. I also didn’t know about adding salt to the water. It was fine, eventually. I only drained the noodles for a few seconds, then added the cheese and milk. What I had brewing now was a soupy, liquid-cheesy bland mess.

Cheese splashed all over the stove. It got under the burner. I wiped the stove with a paper towel. I got another one to get the cheese-spots near the burner. The paper towel caught fire. I screamed and threw my hands up. The paper towel just burned on the stove next to the pot like kindling. The baby Grandmother was watching started crying. After no one came into the kitchen, I took my shoe off and hand-stomped the fire out with it. I turned off the stove and cleaned up the evidence.

A few minutes later, Allison came out of the bathroom twirling her curly brown hair with her finger. I ate my precious mac and cheese that I’d hoarded into a big plastic container. She sniffed her arms, her shirt, her hair, around the kitchen, and then rushed back into the bathroom. I went back to the trash can and poured some water over the burnt paper. I sniffed until I couldn’t smell the smokey smell from it any longer and dropped the water cup in the sink.

Allison came back into the kitchen. She sniffed the stove, the wall behind the stove, the sink, the spice cabinet, the refrigerator, and the trash can. She took a little too long at the trash can, then sprayed perfume from it all the way back into the bathroom.

My stepdad came in. He went into the cabinet and pulled out a Nutty Bar. He looked down at me and my empty bowl.

“Did your Granny burn something?” He asked. I nodded. He shook his head as he walked to the trashcan. Then, after a moment of thinking, he wandered over to the bathroom and knocked. Allison yelled and he turned back to me. I tried to look like I didn’t know anything at all, but I don’t think I was doing a very good job. He pounded on the bathroom door again.

“Allison!” Allison came out of the bathroom.


My stepdad went into the bathroom, opened every drawer, opened the medicine cabinet, checked every box inside, lifted the toilet seat, pulled back the shower curtain, and checked behind the door. The baby down the hall cried again.

“Where is it?” He asked.

“Where’s what?” She said. He looked to me. I ate an empty spoonful of mac and cheese. They argued about how her mom had told him that she thought she was smoking but she didn’t know for certain. When the argument was over, she was grounded for the rest of the weekend there, and he was going to see to it that she was grounded back home, too. She went down the hall. My stepdad opened his Nutty Bar.

“Don’t ever sleep with a woman,” he said. I nodded and put my empty bowl in the sink. I eventually got better at making mac and cheese.

Were you brave enough to try to cook mac and cheese by yourself?

What was the first thing you learned to cook? For instance, was it mac and cheese? Ideally, you had supervision if you were really young, so maybe it was something a little more complicated? Comment below! I soon started cooking spaghettis, which quickly became my favorite. Eventually I graduated up to cooking a hamburger, but I remember being super grossed out by it. I didn’t try cooking anything else for a long time because a lot of the other foods freaked me out. For instance, chicken is just weird.

To be honest, I’m one of the few people who don’t enjoy cooking. All I can think about is the dishes. However, I cook because I have to. I’ve somehow become the designated cook in my apartment, too, which was not at all my plan.

Oh yeah, in addition to your cooking stories, let me know if you accidentally almost burned down your house or if you accidentally ratted on your stepsister for smoking.

Eric Shay Howard with coffee at Belle of Louisville
Me with coffee at the Belle of Louisville, thinking about my next blog post.

I also wrote another recent blog post about my childhood, On Decaf Coffee, so check it out sometime.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Kyle

    I honestly can’t remember the first thing I ever cooked, but you’re not alone, I hate cooking too. I just want my food quick and simple, but maybe that’s cause I’m a lazy bitch lol. And no, I’ve never accidentally almost burned down my house or accidentally ratted on my stepsister for smoking lol.

    1. Eric Shay Howard

      Yeah somehow I’ve become the default cook in my apartment. Roommate doesn’t understand that I absolutely hate it! lol

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