Long-standing assumption held that a portion of my late retirement years would be spent as many women in my extended family have spent theirs before me — enjoying bad daytime TV.
"My stories," as my grandmother referred to them, or, more specifically, soap operas.
After all, I'd watched soaps as a kid, as a college student and even as a young adult. Sure, it's been years since I've followed soaps, but, heck, everyone knows you can miss months of shows at a time and pick the story line right back up. A few months, a few decades, what's the difference?
But a recent surgery-induced stint home-bound revealed a shocking truth: Soaps kind of stink. In fact, they're fairly unwatchable.
There went the retirement years — not to mention the more pressing weeks of recovery time.
This was discovered after a glorious week of reading, napping and having meals served up in bed. (P.S., I highly recommend this if you can get it. In fact, a guilt-free week bed-bound could be the next hot, no-cost Christmas gift item.)
What a disappointment, then, to finally shuffle all the way to the couch, only to find plans — present and future — shattered.
Now, I'm no TV novice — this gal knows how to wield a remote. So the search was on for bearable daytime TV. With a gazillion channels, you'd think it wouldn't be all that hard. But it was: soaps, blathery talk shows and reruns of nighttime series I never wanted to watch in the first place.
Finally, I went to my go-to — albeit odd — channel for mindless television viewing, the Food Network.
Odd because cooking never has been my thing — not good at it, never liked it, hate cleaning up after it. Yet I love to watch other people do it. Mostly, I love to watch other people compete while doing it on shows like "Top Chef," "Iron Chef America" and "Chopped."
But those aren't part of the daytime lineup. Instead, it's made up of how-to shows featuring a variety of professional chefs whipping up mostly simple meals for the home cook.
I quickly was mesmerized — but not in a good way. I sat, spellbound, counting how many chefs turned on their faucets to wash ooey-gooey raw chicken hands, only to turn them off by touching the very same ooey-gooey raw chicken-hand spot they touched to turn them on.
Am I the only one who thinks that's icky?
But, after a while, the stuff they were doing in between recontaminating their hands started to look, well, fun. And delicious. And not all that hard.
By week three, cooking tips were being jotted down. Soon, a Giada De Laurentiis dish was tested in an oven that didn't know what had hit it.
By week five, my life was completely upside down. I was zesting lemons, had compiled an actual pantry of spice and food staples and was putting my own spin on a Rachael Ray chili, a Sardinian pasta dish found on foodnetwork.com and — mercy help us all — Guy Fieri's taquitos.
Finally, there was no choice but to return to work to pay off my grocery debt.
But the obsession hasn't passed. The DVR is working at this moment, recording everything from "Barefoot Contessa" to "Down Home With the Neelys." Lunch has been made for co-workers. My son, who has been forced to try artichokes and fennel, now has parsnips and quite possibly celery root in his near future.
And on it goes. I have no delusions that I'm a good cook. Just an obsessed one.
Soap operas won't be my retirement addiction, but if things don't change soon, I expect to at least double my weight by then.
The Food Network and its coterie of chefs has me hooked like a kebab on a skewer. I can't stop watching or — for now — cooking their creations.
Still, a question remains for Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, Tyler Florence and the rest: Would you please use your forearms to turn on those faucets instead of your ooey-gooey raw chicken hands?
Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.