When I met Chris, he was very embittered toward the Air Force. I didn’t understand it. Coming from a very pro-militia family, I couldn’t wrap my brain around a military man who didn’t WANT to be a military man. After all, I thought it was all Hoo-rahs and Hoo-yahs and Boo-yas and general chest-bumping enthusiasm for war. What’s more, I didn’t know why he didn’t just GET OUT if he wasn’t in love with his job. It can’t be that hard to leave a job. I’ve been forcefully ejected from plenty of them, sometimes for offenses as grave as showing a sliver of shoulder from a shirt-neck that was askew. And no, I’m not kidding. Working for Seventh Day Adventist organizations isn’t all fun and games and brimming glasses of wine.
It turns out that my adorable, handsome new boyfriend had merely had his fill of living on a particular military base, in a particular city that he hated very, very, very much. And he’d had to live there for the duration of his residency, and it had seared into him some very deep, festering wounds. That city? Dayton, Ohio.
Which brings me to the next possibility on our endless list of giddy housing joy: Dayton, Ohio.
That’s right! Dayton! And it’s a very, very real possibility. Far more likely than Travis AFB in California, which I have on good authority is the CROWN JEWEL OF AIR MOBILITY COMMAND. Balls.
Here’s a fun fact–When Chris and I were not yet being threatened with a return to his geographical nemesis, it was always fun to remind him that he had a faint birthmark shaped exactly like Ohio on his shoulder. That’s the kind of behavior on my part that earned me the moniker of “spiteful girl,” which is how I became “the spiteful chef.” I can only imagine how horrified I would be if I found a birthmark in the shape of Texas on my own personal body. I’d end up in an emergency room, having carved off a hunk of my own skin. It’d take me a while to explain I wasn’t on PCP.
So the familial hatred of Dayton is one of the very first impressions I had of Chris’s past. I knew he’d spent 6 months locked away in Mountain Home, Idaho as a trade for being stationed back in Colorado the first time. What I know of those months is that he played a lot of video games in a dark, military apartment and drank a lot of Cap’n and Coke out of a coffee pitcher, because he had no cups and hated life. But Idaho, he said, was joy unbounded compared to Ohio, especially since he knew he’d be going back to Colorado soon. Where, shortly after returning, he would locate me. And I, my loves, am the CROWN JEWEL OF CHRIS’S MARITAL COMMAND.
So when I think about Dayton, the only thing I really know is that Chris thinks it’s like being stationed in a root canal, only without the benefit of local anesthesia. And I trust Chris’s judgment.
What I know about the food scene is that there isn’t one. Googling Dayton restaurants leaves a distinctly Cracker Barrel-ish impression. Speaking of Dayton Googlin’, Wikipedia has some pretty fascinating, hysterical sentences about Dayton.
“Dayton’s primary nickname is the “Gem City”. The origin of the name is no longer clear”
Uh…lolz? Translation: “at some point, somebody thought this city was awesome, but now we can’t figure out, using the collective genius of almost 2 BILLION internet users, why anybody would say this city was a gem.”
“In 2008, Forbes magazine included Dayton on its list of the ‘Fastest Dying Cities’ in America”
translation: “Dayton wins top honors in major magazine rankings!”
“The region is dominated by a humid continental climate, characterized by hot, muggy summers and cold, dry winters.”
and, this is the ENTIRETY of the section on Dayton’s food scene,
“Dayton is home to a variety of popular pizza chains that have become woven into local culture, the most notable of which are Cassano’s and Marion’s Piazza. Also based in Dayton is the Mexican Restaurant chain Hot Head Burritos, which was ranked by AOL.com in 2009 as one of America’s next big chains. Other Dayton-based food chains are Super Subby’s which specializes in submarine sandwiches and chili, The Flying Pizza which is a New York-style pizza chain, Fricker’s which specializes in chicken wings, and The Submarine House which specializes in submarine sandwiches.”
Translation: “Dayton is a veritable cesspool of fast food and ‘popular’ pizza chains that nobody has ever heard of.”
Please do forgive the mess of punctuation in the above list. My soul has become one of the fastest dying souls in America, having read the Wikipedia stats on my potential new home.
Housing is really a delightful prospect. $420,000 will buy you a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom, newly renovated, beautiful home with a guest house, swimming pool, private duck pond, gazebo, playground, and 5.4 acres of quite attractive forest. They’re just giving homes away out there. But back to the food.
Now, I could have copped out and made you a sub sammich for your Dayton specialty food. Or I could have cheated and made you food from Cincinnati. They do have some specialty grub there. Their most famous creation is that they put chili on top of spaghetti. And then they top it with cheese. And onions. Not really an innovative food. My mom does that too, on occasion, where she cleans out the fridge and mixes whatever leftovers together and calls it “leftover pie” and none of us kids will eat it because we feel strongly that leftover Chinese food and pickles and meatloaf aren’t ideal bedfellows, and also we are not pregnant.
Not to insult chili on top of spaghetti. If I were stoned off of my ass I’m sure I’d be like “Hell yes! Bring on the chili spaghetti! And also some root beer! And then let’s play MarioKart!” But I’m woefully not stoned, and not planning on becoming so.
So instead I tried to focus on a positive aspect of living in Ohio. I don’t want to be a negative Nellie, or insult the stunningly, gob-stoppingly beautiful installation and people of Wright-Patterson AFB. And I noticed that Dayton is only a hop, skip, and a 5 hour drive to Chicago. And Chicago is AWESOME. And Chicago has a FANTASTIC food scene. And Chicago has fun things to do and culture galore and athletic events and really cool row-houses, and ALINEA.
Dehydrated Nieman Ranch bacon
Homemade, deeply flavored butterscotch
Apple that was baked, pureed, and dehydrated into fruit leather
Thyme (dried because I forgot to get fresh and I was not about to leave the house in my pajamas)
I put slabs of bacon in my dehydrator, and turned them into delicious jerky
I drizzled them with butterscotch
I cut the apple leather into crude strips and wrapped them around the bacon
I sprinkled the edge with thyme
And then I made the leftover butterscotch into ice cream
I also had bacon jerky and Monster for second breakfasts this morning. First breakfasts was Kashi GoLean and blueberries, so I don’t feel too bad.
Now, the pro and con list:
Pro: Chris knows the area well
Con: Chris loathes the area with fiery passion
Pro: Ohio is close to Chicago, which I love
Con: Chris is likely to balk at the idea of a 5 hour commute each way, meaning I will not be living in Chicago.
Pro: There are no polar bears or mudslides
Con: There is absolutely zero scenery, unless you call looking at submarine sammich shops “scenery”
Pro: Very nice homes cost NOTHING
Con: That’s because nobody wants to live there
Con: It is literally 1200 miles from my family
Tune in tomorrow for the next installation. I’ll give you a hint: I had to think really hard to avoid having to make oysters for dinner tonight.