Thursday, September 16, 2004

In which I learn a valuable lesson about hamburgers and french fries

There were tears this morning. Before that, there was an itchy nose. That's where it started. Actually, where it started was at a soulless chain restaurant in the soulless big box planet just outside of town last night. That's where I thought, hey, I'm good. I earned, like, a brillion activity points, I would like a hamburger and french fries, and that's what I will order.

Duly ordered, duly eaten. No big whoop.

This morning, with the itchy nose. A symptom I get from foods I'm sensitive too. Including, once and for all, puffy white bread. Hello, Steph? You can't eat that shit. It makes your nose itch!

So I tell the professor about the itchy nose. He doesn't get it at first. I tell him that I ate a burger and fries for supper, and that it wasn't, actually, very good. And now that I have the itchy nose, in the cool light of morning, it's easy for me to see that the burger and fries weren't very good. And he's all, well of course they weren't very good. Geez. You ate at Montana's for the love of Mike.

Which made me cry.

Why? Oh, because I'm a crybaby. And probably premenstrual. And because it's so simple for him, and so not that simple for me. And because all my revelations now make me feel like an idiot. Because the thin world knew them all along. But anyhow, I sobbed. I expressed dismay that he wasn't trying to hear me. He sat down, I started talking, I figured it out as I went.

See, the thing is, I'd been thinking about that burger all day. About the fun experience of going shopping with a friend, and then stopping for a burger and fries. The thing I realised, though, is that in the past, I have eaten all burgers and all fries as if they are good. I have thought of them as abstract foods-that-I-enjoy eating. Whether or not the actual, concrete experience of eating them THAT TIME were really pleasurable. In the past, I have eaten many a mediocre burger in a mindless way, thinking, yup, burger, good. When really? The burger at Montana's -- and so many other places, so many other times -- was exactly what you'd expect. Merely whatever. Merely ok, inoffensive. But if I'm going to eat a puffy bun that makes my nose itch, it had better be a beautiful puffy bun. If I'm going to eat french fries, they had better be handcut, skin still on, piping hot so the vinegar tastes sharp and the salt sticks to them. Because otherwise, what is the point? Last night, I ate an only-ok burger and fries and it turns out I would have been happier with salad.

Talk about a revelation.

Not because I don't love salad. I do love salad, actually. I do not serve supper without salad, as a generally rule. But I never think of it when I'm out. When I'm out, I think of treat foods. Like burgers and fries. But you know, maybe if I ate those at home, where I could make really great burgers and really great fries, maybe if I scratched that particular itch in a way that I control, then maybe when I'm out, food could just be food. Just something you eat when you're hungry. Instead of some iconic meal I eat whether I want it or not.

Obviously I'm going to need to eat more fish. Because as it stands, I am just not smart enough to understand myself right now.

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