Back when my friend, KS, and I were single, we devised what we considered a fool-proof method to get ourselves some men. It wasn’t that we were discontent or had such low self-esteem that we thought a relationship = happiness, but there comes a point in pretty much every woman’s life when she’d like someone to hug and kiss and love her back. We were there.

She baked, I cooked. Over the years, this has evened out a little more and we both do double duty, probably because we no longer live together and have to be more self-sustaining than we once were. We figured there were very few men on this planet who would be able to resist our abilities to make incredible food that wasn’t out of a can or surrounded by plastic packaging, but as it turns out, there apparently were.  Never mind; we are now both happily married to guys who actually get it.

On one particularly brilliant night, we decided our best plan of attack was a themed date. We’d eat apple stuffed chicken, apple pie for dessert, and play a couple rounds of Apples to Apples. This would prove our cooking/baking skills and also our senses of humor and clever wits. And for whatever reason we thought these boys were the really desirable types (they weren’t and we are thusly married to men who are about as opposite them as possible), so with apples in hand, we set forth to wow them.

For all the cooking and baking we did, we somehow managed to have a kitchen devoid of toothpicks. Strawberry huller? No problem. Multiple cheese graters? Of course. But toothpicks are the type of kitchen necessity that really only rear their heads perhaps once a year, so for as necessary as they might be, they’re also forgettable. The pie was in the oven, the game was out, the entire apartment was fantastically clean (that was probably more her doing than mine), and the chicken was pounded flat with the apple mixture just sitting there in a bowl. We had no definitive way to actually stuff the chicken and then keep it together while it cooked. Rather than one of us hopping in the car and buying toothpicks (KS – why did we opt for anything other than that?) we chose our next best option. Q-tips. Because once you cut the fluffy ends off, they’re more or less toothpick-like. I grabbed a handful from the bathroom (don’t worry, they were still in their sanitary package, lest you imagine me pulling them straight out of a drawer) and got to work.

In looking back, this wasn’t actually too bad  a plan. Odd, to be sure, but a nod to quick thinking and slight ingenuity. The chicken cooked up perfectly moist with a warm, comforting filling, and when the boys were sitting at the dining room table, we plucked those Q-tips right out and served up the food. It wasn’t till we were sitting around the table, feeling pretty proud of ourselves, that I noticed out of the corner of my eye something white peeking out of my date’s chicken. Having sworn we had removed all the Q-tips, KS and I were completely mortified, so before he could figure out what was going on (or discover them himself), I snatched his plate off the table and ran into the kitchen. It had seemed like a great idea at the time, as most ideas do, and the evidence was going to be destroyed so our dates would be none the wiser. It was really the only time my food has ever mutinied and betrayed me.

Incidentally, we had bamboo skewers in the small gadgets drawer that whole time, which as we all know are just big toothpicks.

Later, we would each get smart enough to realize these were not the men for us. That, in fact, we should have been running, arms pumping, the entire time. There would be other dates — Q-tipless, of course — and other guys. But retrospectively it seems as though that one dinner wasn’t betraying us as much as it was offering up fair warning, letting us know something better was going to come along.