Sunday, March 14, 2010

Essay: I Lied to Make It True

When he asked me, I lied. Of course I lied. I was 40-something and he was just barely 30-something and, besides, I wanted it to be true. So I made it true by saying it and wanting it and maybe even believing it a little. Plus, we were on stage, where you’re invited to lie anyway.

“You’re not one of those girls who doesn’t eat, are you?” he asked, peering over his mimed menu.  “I hate girls like that.”

“Nope,” I smiled guilelessly, deciding to fake-order the steak, a bottle of red wine and substantial wedge chocolate cake for dessert. “I love to eat. I eat everything. Absolutely everything.”

“Good,” he nodded, as if he knew all along that was the case, before signaling for the pretend waiter.

My young actor never would have understood anyway. When I was his age, I used to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without a care. “Teflon belly,” I’d say proudly, patting my slim mid-section. “Another curry for the road, señor!”

But then I turned 40…


Around the age of 40, I became dangerously allergic to bell peppers. Just out of the blue. Like Epi-pen allergic. Totally stupid. So now I have to be that lady at the restaurant who whines to the waitstaff, “Are there bell peppers in it? [pause] Are you sure? [pause] Would you mind checking with the chef just in case?” Do you really think anybody WANTS to be that lady? Spoiler alert: No. The answer is no. Personally, I want to be the lady who says, “I’ll have the left side of the menu please. [pause] Yes, all of it. [pause] And please double the order of the jalapeño poppers and bloomin’ onions.”

Around the age of 40, I became lactose intolerant. And soon after I even became unable to consume goat’s milk. Goodbye cheese. (Wiping away a tear at the thought of never again enjoying a melty Camembert on a crusty baguette.) Goodbye milk. Goodbye – sobbing openly now – ice cream. Who screams for ice cream? Me! Me! I scream for ice cream. That’s who. I do. I dooooo!

Around the age of 40, I also went on a health diet to combat migraines; although I feel great, it also means I rarely consume wheat, sugar, refined grains, and a whole host of other delicious stuff that I can’t even talk about. If it tastes good, chances are I can’t eat it.

Yes, that homemade éclair does look delicious, Madame Lafleur. Would I like one? No…whimper, whimper…merci quand meme.

Would Mommy like to go to the sugar shack with you? Yes, yes, she would love to go. But since being there and smelling the maple syrupy-wheaty goodness of it all will make Mommy want to hang herself from the nearest tree, I think I’ll pass.

Do I like piña coladas and getting lost in the rain? Of course I do, dammit. It’s hot, someone is playing the steel drum, and we’re on the beach in the tropics. What the hell do you think?! But I’ll have a tall glass of ice water instead.

Truth is, I love being in my 40’s. I would rather be my age than back where my young actor friend sits. But still, for me, the whole food thing is getting to me. I’m hoping that in twenty years, I’ll be back to drinking milkshakes and eating Pop Tarts. In the meantime, this is the soundtrack to my dining life:

I’ll have the salad, please. Dressing on the side.

I’ll have the salad, please. Dressing on the side.

I’ll have the salad, please. Dressing on the side.

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