Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Olive to Eat

I recently had the wonderful luck of meeting a man who seems to enjoy spending a lot of time with me. This is most fortunate because I, too, like spending a lot of time with him. And in the course of spending said time together, it behooves us to imbibe and ingest foodstuffs so as not to end up old and alone because we've bitten each other's heads off from hunger. (Okay, that's mostly me.) This is a most normal relationship. Spend time, eat food, spend more time. Maybe sleep a little. But here's the thing: While I awake each morning excited at the prospect of another day full of opportunities to eat new and exciting foods, he considers himself well-fed if he's drunk multiple cups of coffee and eaten a bag of microwave popcorn. Or whatever else is around. Because it doesn't matter to him.

I'll let that sink in.

FOOD DOESN'T MATTER TO HIM. It's one of those basic requirements, sure, but once that requirement has been met, he's good to go. Where's that paper bag from Whole Foods? I think I'm hyperventilating. Food, glorious food is our very means of survival. Food is life. It provides the crucial energy that we need to sustain our very existence! And that is precisely his point. You must eat to live. Full stop. Oh woe is I. I have gone and found myself a completely wonderful man who lives on the other side of the food scale from me. And not surprisingly, the people scale weighs us in at almost the same weight. This frightens me. Even though we're both small people, he taller and more slight than I, it scares me to think that I weight nearly as much a man. But I digress.

So here's my question: Can a person who lives to eat sustain a relationship with someone who eats to live? I know it's possible, I've seen it happen. But does one suffer while the other benefits? Do both suffer?

I hate forcing food on people. It's the Jewish mother syndrome. Eat! You must eat! You're wasting away. Man, that makes me crazy. I'll eat if I'm hungry, thank you. So to that end, I can understand where he's coming from. Okay, one step closer. And he does have foods that he particularly enjoys. Sushi. All Japanese food, really. Then Chinese food. Then Southern food. Fried chicken. Grits. Apple pie. Okay, I'm on board with all of that. But this is where his desire for food dwindles, and I am the one left to make the decisions of where to eat. For as much of a control freak as I am, I really do like it when other people suggest restaurants once in a while. I end up asking him twelve extra times if my choice is okay with him when the answer is, yes, it's fine with him because anything is fine with him. So is nothing. Argh.

I suppose I could have ended up with one LA's premiere food neurotics. These are the people who tell you that they're allergic to something simply because they don't like it. Or they act like they'll eat anywhere, and then you suggest something and they say, "Blech. No. I won't eat there." Okay Picky McChoosyPants, you select a place to eat. You might have seen the Sex and the City episode where Carrie asks for her meal without parsley, telling the waiter that she's allergic. Her dining partner gives her guff because she's lying about her allergy, she simply doesn't like parsley. This is what I mean. Sally from When Harry Met Sally has the same affliction. It's charming at first, and by the third date I'd want to throttle her. All I'm asking is that you say, "I don't like [insert food here]" and we stop talking about it. End of story. So to that end, my eat to live friend is wonderful. He can go anywhere and find something he'll eat. And he won't mention it or even complain. Okay, he might. We just had brunch at Axe (pretentiously pronounced A-shay) and he got a pancake that was too "hippie" for his taste. Fair enough. But he ate it, I didn't know until after our meal that he was unhappy, and he didn't really care either way.

So far our relationship has blossomed despite our lack of variety in our meal choices. He is wonderful in so many ways. I have grown accustomed, and even excited, to the prospect of walking around the corner to his local coffee shop and getting breakfast from people who know us by name. Especially if they have those delicious almond croissants. I am now used to eating only two meals a day, both of them usually small. In fact I believe I've lost a few pounds since we started dating, something that I am actually rather happy about. He, on the other hand, teases me about how much he eats when he's with me, as if I am the one lifting the fork to his mouth and placing the food inside his thin frame. I admit that I am usually the catalyst for the food run, but I don't force feed. Today, left to his own devices, he ate an apple and a bag of microwave popcorn, both of which I bought for him so he wouldn't just subsist on coffee. Part of me thinks that he deprives himself of food in the name of creativity. But most of me knows that he thinks that eating is a waste of time and he won't do it unless his body screams for food, which rarely happens. I am trying so hard to understand his way of thinking. And he tries his best not to stand in my way when I'm hungry. I suppose that's a fair compromise.

So in the end, I think the answer is to turn my food energy to my friends. I will indulge with them, discussing food ad nauseum, preferrably when he is not there so we don't bore him to tears. This way neither of us suffers, and both of us get what we need. Occasionally, I will bring him along in my food adventures just to expose him to new things. Together we can celebrate the foods he loves, which makes both of us happy. And I will just have to relax and understand that there is no way to change the people you love, you simply have to take them for who they are, lack of appetites and all.

As an interesting side note, the title of this post is taken from a trivet that was my mom's. As I child, I didn't understand its statement about olives, thinking that it was a silly phrase to put on display. Now I understand the play on words, and appreciate the sentiment. Because after all, I do love to eat. And the lovely man of whom I speak loves olives.