Thursday, November 10, 2005

Lunchtime "Rules"

Everyday I face the same quandary... What to do on my lunch hour? I pretty much "brown bag" it every day (and yes, I have finally given up on the Special K diet- too boring for this gal), so going out to lunch is both unnecessary and, frankly, expensive. People in my office do not generally go out to lunch together. We order in for special occasions, but generally, the thoughts of group lunches out, well, they just don’t happen. However, dining alone doesn’t bother me. Obviously, it’s not as entertaining as dining with a companion, but there is a part of me that finds dining alone refreshing.

Whenever I eat with a partner I feel compelled to order in a certain manner. I follow the cues of others, if all the women order a salad, then I, too, jump on the vegetation wagon. Dining with the opposite sex has always less than enjoyable. When I would first begin to date someone, the pressures of being "feminine" all crept up. And even though I know that most men will say they like a woman who will actually eat when on a date (yes, guys, I know this) my head still told me to order light. Always the small portion- dressing on the side- oops, er, I mean, light dressing on the side (I detest light dressing)- grilled please, nothing fried- and of course, most importantly-never finish the meal. These are the "rules" that would always pop into my mind.

I can’t recall the exact moment the "rules" made their appearance. I used to order what I wanted, even if it was the Frisco Melt at Steak N Shake and at 1am. But somewhere between Full House and Sex in the City, The Rules became my code of honor. My personal Gospel. I remember a boyfriend joking with our friends as I finished the large salad I’d ordered "Damn girl, take it easy. No one wants the fat girlfriend." He was joking, of course, and even though my feelings were hurt and he tried to apologize ("I’d never say that if you really were fat") the damage was done. I began to look around at what the other girls ate on our group dates (come on, we were 16- it was always a group). Small salads, bagels, soups, or the ever present HALF of anything on the menu always graced their plates, so I began to follow suit. Somehow these eating patterns found their way into dinners with everyone, even those who were "just friends" and to this day there are certain people I know I will follow The Rules while we dine.

Despite all of The Rules I followed, deep down I have always had this secret love affair with food. Memories are governed by where I ate rather than what exactly I saw. I thought of about food all day long- what I would eat, if I was eating. Where I would go with friends and what I would order. Although I tried to eat to live, inside I was always desperately wanting to live to eat. Dining alone became a treat. My one time I could order what I wanted, in whatever portion size I felt like. My secret food outings became what I looked forward to, even over an evening out.

When J and I began to date, I knew I had found a kindred spirit in my secret love. We went out to eat, ordered appetizers, entrees, tried each other's food, shared in the joy of a great find. We truly love to eat. And although both of us know we have to indulge this love in moderation, he is one of the only people I can eat confidently in front of, knowing he will never judge me for cleaning my plate (even though I tend to stop when I'm full- a good habit I learned and kept). His eyes hardly react when I order something fried, or when I'm desperate for pizza or Chinese food. Eating with his family is like eating with my own- always enjoyable, and always fun. I've never felt the need to hide my love of food- or to down play that, even though I am a girl, I have an appetite and a palat that wants for more than vegetables.

It's a great thing that I have this bond with J- especially since I intend on eating my meals with him for the next 50 years. Maybe even more- we've got good blood lines! I still enjoy dining alone, for the simple fact that it's the closest I get to "me time" anymore.

This entire entry has drifted from it's original subject of trying to find out what people do on their "lunch hour"... I hope none of you follows The Rules, because, honestly, they pretty much suck.
posted by Kellie @ 12:19 PM |

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