Sunday, November 10, 2013
Yes, I Would Like Fries With That.
I can't stop thinking about food and clothes these days. If you knew me when I was a skinny kid, you'd know I was a frustratingly picky eater born to a mother and father raised in the Great Depression. By the age of seven I could quote you chapter and verse regarding my Southern mother's memories of rationing stamps and my Yankee father's sad saga of meals where there was no meat to eat. Only beans. To my young ears it sounded like a nightmare, albeit THEIR nightmare. At any dinnertime moment, my own personal horror story consisted of three remaining bites of tomato that taunted me from the oily remains of my salad bowl. Dinner was long over and I was alone at the table watching the clock's minute hand creep closer to the deadline my father had set for the consumption of those three red taste bud assassins with their demonic seeds encased in gag-inducing slime. Food was my enemy then.
As a skinny teenager I did not know what a temporary privilege it would be to buy clothes at the 5-7-9 Shop. I had but to eyeball a pair of pants or a blouse from Casual Corner before taking them to the cashier. My only concern being whether the pants would be long enough to avoid the "flood look" so feared in the 70s. Food was something I ate when I got hungry and nothing more. Clothes either fit or were too large.
Even as a young married I had a pair of favored black pants from The Gap which fit me to perfection and did so before I had babies and then again after I had lost all my baby weight. All this was true for me and yet I believed that this could also be as easily true for everyone else if they just tried. Even though I didn't have to try. It just WAS for me. I ate what I wanted and when I felt I had gone too far, I would simply run it off in during a soccer game or work it off at the gym. I was the Seinfeld-ian "master of my domain". Food-wise, anyway.
At 39 I trained for and ran a marathon and I have a photograph from the following summer vacation where I wore a bikini in public for the very last time. I didn't know it then, but I looked fabulous. I drank beer on the beach and ate ice cream at night. I was having to work harder to feel normal (thin) but I had the time to do it and youth, plus the slightest overtones of my father's Type A personality helped me keep everything in check.
Then the freight train of middle age hit about the time our kids were in constant "graze" mode. We went through eight gallons of milk and two loaves of bread per week. I was cooking and either writing part time or doing my part as PTA slave. We saw two kids into college and then I went back to teaching while attempting to monitor the last son through high school. I developed an enormous ulcer which tried to kill me and almost succeeded. I was in ICU and then hospitalized with a nasal/gastric tube for another 7+ days, after which I then had to train my stomach to accept food once I was home, one bite at a time. THIS JUST IN: I succeeded!
Where does that leave me now? Hopelessly menopausal and in possession of a metabolism that is slower than an IRS refund and pants which are visibly angry with me. I don't recognize my body or my face. Age and stress are in collusion with what few hormones I have left to make me crave food that I cannot possibly burn and then arrange the results cruelly on a facial structure which--though never beautiful--was once strong and (some said) striking. Despite yoga, everything slops over its original boundaries like that melting watches painting by Salvidor Dali. And all I want to do is eat.
I get a pedicure and--over the scent of acetone, I can smell the Vietnamese noodles the manicurist had for lunch. I want seconds on everything all the time. I actually had a dream about bacon the other night. Salted popcorn and cashews. Chips with salsa or guacamole. Happiness would be a tankard of wine, followed by a bucket of Ben and Jerry's and a shovel with which to eat it. I eat candy corn while grading papers. I have flashbacks about visiting the Betty Bakery in Boerum Hill during our last Spring Break trip to New York. I have a juicer and dream of replacing one meal with something healthy, but I'm afraid I'm too addicted to chewing to make a go of it. My sister-in-law told me last night that she's gone mostly Paleo in her diet and the results are amazing to behold. But doesn't that mean that planning/shopping/cooking/eating will now require as much energy as my job? The thought of that just makes me want to fall down out of sheer resentment. Fall down into a big bowl of macaroni and cheese. You see my problem, no?
I'm open to any helpful suggestions you might have, dear readers. Meanwhile, I must attend a birthday lunch for my mother whose own "love language" is food. Not eating very much will only send the message that I hate her, am not enjoying myself and that I wish nothing more than to destroy her birthday. But that's another Oprah entirely. What else is there to say but, Bon Appetit?