Charlie and Marianne were sitting on Charlie’s rug in a warm patch of sunshine, going through seed catalogues, and deciding what to plant in the garden next spring. Charlie circled the things he wanted and handed the catalogue to Marianne. She started to flip through the pages.
“Strawberries are a great idea, but we’ll start them from plants rather than seeds,” Marianne said. She wrote strawberries on her list.
“Do you think we can make jam?” Charlie asked. “I love strawberry jam.”
“If we don’t eat all the strawberries first,” Marianne said. “They’re hard to resist.” She turned the page. “Pumpkins?”
“So we can carve one for Halloween. If there’s extra pumpkins, maybe we can make pie,” Charlie said.
“Good thinking,” Marianne said. “What else? Corn, tomatoes, peas, broccoli. Good choices.” Marianne turned the page. “Asparagus and artichokes?”
“They look like alien vegetables. They look interesting,” Charlie said.
“Maybe we need to try them before we plant some in the garden,” Marianne said. “It would be disappointing to put so much work into growing them if we found out that we didn’t like them when they were finally ready to eat,” Marianne said.
“Let’s have an alien dinner,” Charlie said.
“What do you mean?”
“We’re already going to have alien vegetables,” Charlie said. “So, let’s make a whole alien meal.”
“What kinds of foods are alien foods?” Marianne asked.
“Green jello is definitely alien,” Charlie said. “And pasta with the green sauce.”
“Pesto?” Marianne asked.
“I don’t know,” Charlie said. “But we should get those oranges that are red inside. They’re creepy. And pineapple.”
“Pineapple is alien?”
Charlie nodded. “Of course it is. It’s really weird. I think aliens planted it here on one of their trips so they have something familiar to eat whenever they visit earth.”
Marianne laughed. “You’ve been listening to too many of your dad’s stories.” She wrote the dinner menu on a paper and wrote a shopping list next to it. “Would you like to come to the store with me? We can surprise your dad with an alien dinner.”
Charlie jumped up. “I’ll go get my coat and shoes. This is going to be great.”
“I’ll just put these papers and catalogues away first.”
Charlie and Marianne went up and down the aisles of the grocery store, filling the cart with items on their list. “We could put shredded apples and carrots into the jello,” Marianne said. “What do you think?” She laughed at the face Charlie made. “Maybe not.”
“Swiss cheese is odd,” Charlie said, as they passed the cheeses.
“It is, but it doesn’t go with the rest of the meal,” Marianne said. “Maybe another time.”
Finally, they bought and bagged their ingredients and headed home. They put their aprons on. “Time to cook,” Charlie said. “Where do we start?”
“Let me look up the cooking time on the vegetables,” Marianne said. “Then we can plan our cooking strategy so that everything finishes at the same time.”
“This is more complicated than I thought,” Charlie said.
They planned, and then they chopped and steamed and boiled and strained and tossed the food. After a flurry of activity, dinner was done and on the table. “This is a meal fit for aliens,” Charlie said. “If only we had some to invite to dinner.”
Just then, the door opened. Charlie ran to the entryway. “Dad! For a moment, I thought there was an alien at the door.”
Isaac laughed. “Nope, just me. Dinner smells great.”
“We’re having alien food for dinner,” Charlie said. “Guess what we’re having.”
“Onions?” Isaac asked. “I’ve always thought they were strange.”
“There’s some in with the pasta,” Charlie said. “But onions are boring. Think of real alien food.”
“No. Squids are weird,” Charlie said, “But I don’t want to eat one.”
“Of course pineapple,” Charlie said.
“Aliens planted it here on one of their trips so they have something familiar to eat whenever they visit,” Isaac said.
“So true,” Charlie said. “Come see the rest of what we made.”
Dinner was strange but delicious. Charlie liked the asparagus but decided that artichokes were too hard to eat. “The aliens can keep their artichokes,” he said. “But they’ll have to share the rest of their food with us.”