On Thursdays after work, I go to the Whole Foods hot buffet and attempt to invent a meal that would make my surrogate television father, Guy Fieri, so proud that his unconditional love for me would manifest in a paternal fist bump on an episode of his landmark series Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Most of these food inventions have been dead on arrival. There was nothing appetizing about stuffing breadcrumbs into garlic bread for what at the time I called “inbred crunchy bread.” And certainly no one would eat my “buffalo mesclun greens salad.”

Last night, however, with my trusty biodegradable compostable to-go box in hand, I added chicken tikka masala to a base layer of tater tots and was so excited at the result that I emailed Guy immediately.

“I call it Tater Tots Masala,” I wrote. “Please consider it for any one of your restaurants. I ask for nothing except your approval, in the way a father might pat his son on the head for coming in second at a Boy Scouts’ pinewood derby event, or the way a father might pat his son on the head for securing a lure to a fishing line, or the way a father might pat his son on the head for suggesting something new and exciting for the family food business.”

Within seconds I received a reply. “Message delivery failure,” it read. “The email address you entered, papaguy @ foodnetwork . com, does not exist or is inactive.”

“Slip Away” by Perfume Genius is part of my annual best-of dishwashing playlist. [More on that here.]

Read more of my 2017 in review.

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