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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Let's Get Something to Eat

She had made and repeated the fearless moral inventory of herself as an important part of her 12-step program. It had not been as difficult for her as some addicts find it. She had had a lot of therapy in her lifetime, spent many years seeking self-realization and was naturally quite introspective. She did not lack awareness of her many shortcomings. She mostly did not let herself off the hook for them either, working actively to correct some of them, and at least admitting to them all. That had come with age and growth. Her youth had mostly begat denial and excuses. But now she saw herself quite clearly and she was OK with most of it.

She was a wordy person which some people appreciate and some do not. She didn't care for numbers at all. Numbers were not logical to her, and she was bright enough to know that that was completely illogical. Words warred to be the first to escape her brain whether written, spoken, sung or expressed in some other media. Numbers remained more firmly lodged in the gray matter and she had to struggle to manage even their simple use. Oh, she could add, subtract, multiply and calculate square footage quite nicely. She just always had to check her work twice to make sure. It hadn't been difficult to embrace her affinity for words over numbers. Despite that, her head was a veritable treasure trove of dates of events both important and unimportant, even to those more affected by the dates than she. The plethora of dates and events she could spew was remarkable.

"I'd like to take you out for dinner on Thursday." His face was a little more animated than usual and his fairly attractive smile lit it up.

Since he was pleasant, she determined to be pleasant and put a smile on. She teased, "Well, why Thursday instead of Tuesday or Saturday?"

He became kind of odd and the smile slipped. "It's the date we met each other. It means something to me." She cringed inwardly while trying to keep her game face. "I knew that," she lied. "That's why I was funning you!" Her hands became very busy and she moved the conversation forward. "Where shall we dine?" He named a couple of large resorts, each of which has several different cafes from which to choose. "You decide and I'll be happy with it." She pondered and said she'd enjoy a good meal of Mexican food. "OK, but you'll have to tell me what to order. I don't know about Mexican food." She felt the slow burn beginning again. It wasn't going to be about his deplorable driving this time. It was going to be about food. Food was not a good thing for her at which to aim anger.

She had never seen anyone eat the way he ate. Both his food choices and his table manners were atrocious. Some days he ate nothing whatsoever and some days he ate his weight in food. Sometimes he ate at 3:00 a.m. - ice cream and really bad "artificial" fried chicken one cooks in the oven to let all the grease run out from the crispy coating in streams. He'd never heard of low fat or reduced sodium or less sugar. She was certain he never knew vegetables came in any form other than canned until she pointed out the fresh and frozen varieties. He wanted white gravy on everything, just like his mother made for him.

By far, the bananas were the worst. She had never seen anyone consume 5 bananas in an hour. And there was something about the banana consumption that carried her from simple revulsion to real anger. She wasn't certain why she landed on anger. Perhaps it actually did start with disgust and escalated, as she longed to knock him in the head with a stick, to anger. His banana dance did not vary. Perhaps it was sacred to him. He first peeled the fruit entirely and then fist-gripped the naked banana like a child or a monkey would handle it, eating from both ends, with gusto and sound effects.

She had tried, rather half-heartedly and early on, to mine his food preferences so she could occasionally make them a meal. She found it hard going. Then she found it made her angry. He had lived his entire life in the southwest but he didn't know about Mexican food. She'd laughed at that! "What? You've never tried a taco?" He said he hadn't. She asked about lasagna, as she enjoyed making that. He'd never had that either. She didn't laugh. The man was more than 60 years old. In a part of the country where Mexican food reigns and has for decades, he's never sampled a taco? He's never tried lasagna at a restaurant or at someone's home or at a potluck meal at work? Never? Or did he simply open his face, insert food, never actually tasting it, never weighing whether he enjoyed it or not, never wondering if he might try it again sometime?

It occurred to her why he made her angry. It didn't come in a flash of brilliance. She'd had to sneak up on it, but it was gradually revealed. He went through life with blinders on all of his senses. Because he experienced so little of life, he had few memories, no stories. He had no texture. It seemed to her he simply ambled through the world, neither looking at anything, tasting or smelling. He paid no attention to other human beings, so he had never become socialized. He didn't know what 22-year-olds had already learned by simply asking or paying attention. He was singularly incurious, whereas she was curious about everything.

It seemed to her that it had finally happened. She had finally met a man to whom she would give utterly nothing of herself and he would find that acceptable. He might offer every fiber of himself to her, but she was not interested in the least. It had been her experience there was usually some accord about whether to continue casual relationships or end them. Mostly, the parties viewed the interaction similarly. That wasn't going to happen this time. For he was having the time of his life and she felt like she was losing ground. Her mistake was the same tired one: submit and resent. And now she'd allowed a situation to develop.

Some said she was a bit of a bitch. He was the salt of the earth. He had become sufficiently comfortable to walk up behind her as she typed personal e-mails, reading from the screen. She'd heard his hand on the doorknob a time or two when she hadn't quite finished getting dressed. She had become sufficiently uncomfortable to fantasize about running - literally, physically - down the street until she could not be seen. But, no. Running away like a child wouldn't resolve anything. Perhaps he'd even follow behind in his red muscle machine and find her! No, this time she'd have to stay and work to take back her sense of peace and self and self-respect.


  1. This is the kind of writing that inspires me to reach the peak it sits on. Kudos!

  2. @ Rory - Wow. I'm floored. Thank you. As I've said before, fiction is new for me (only the third installment here) and I was really scared about posting it. Thank you for your input. I appreciate that you took the time.

  3. Hard for me to comment until I know how it all turns out. Just a few observations.

    Though the story (which I assume is a continuation of your two earlier forays into fiction) is written in the third person, it thus far is soley from the point of view of "she". I wonder just how reliable that point of view is. DON'T TELL ME! I want to be suprised.

    I'll say this for people who go through life with "blinders" on, they're not likely to be the manipulative sort. This seems like the type of relationship she could easily back out of. Unless there's something you're not telling us. DON'T TELL ME NOW!

    People think she's a bitch, yet she seems to feel her self-esteem is constantly in peril. Could the former be the result of the latter? DON'T ANSWER THAT QUESTION!

    Obviously, what you've written has got me thinking. If my observations are completely off-base, DON'T TELL ME! My self-esteem may be even more fragile than hers.

  4. @ Kirk ~ Very good comments and observations, thank you. Yes, it is a continuation. If there are no illustrations and the title begins with "Let's", it's the continuing story of . . .

    I'll be straight with you - there isn't a lot I could tell you right now to spoil future installments. The story isn't complete. It's developING, not developED.

    Just a couple of early(est) thoughts from me: it's told from her point of view because he wouldn't have one. No story would exist if we waited for him. And I think she COULD get out of it, but the point is that she DOESN'T get out of these less-than-good things.

  5. People who have no memories/interest in food frighten me. It's like, not caring about air. But worse. Because at least from food you get some emotional and physical enjoyment. Food is amazing. I can't stand that he hasn't had a taco or lasagne.
    My husband and I will sit and have conversations about memories of our favorite meals together. I would run screaming down the street if he didn't share this interest.
    I'm having a strong reaction to a fictional character, which can only mean one thing: the author has described him incredibly well. :-)

  6. @ CramCake ~ I'm with you! No memories due to no life savored. No interest in food because of no paying attention to a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. You know my relationship with food, of course. I wish I could enjoy it the way you do and still look like you! That doesn't keep me from enjoying it, though.

    Thank you re: my writing. I'm beginning to enjoy writing fiction.