“People who love to eat are always the best people.” ~Julia Child
About a month ago, I got an email from Meetup.com letting me know about a new book club for women that was forming in my area.
If you’ve never heard of it, Meetup.com is a networking site that allows users to create and join interest groups in their local communities. There are thousands of groups to choose from. Everything from outdoor sports groups, to book clubs, parenting groups, exercise, volunteering, artists, dating, business related groups and so on.
I created an account about ten years ago when I moved to the Boston area from a small town in the mid-west. It seemed like a good resource for making a few friends in my new home state.
Only….I’m a complicated person. I think my personality falls somewhere between hermit-like and introverted. I am also very socially awkward. I don’t know if I have some form of social anxiety, or, chronic verbal diarrhea, or what. All I know is that I’m more of a wall-flower than a social butterfly.
I’m the kind of friend who will almost always return your call with a text message without having:
1. listened to your voicemail; they give me anxiety and so I delete them immediately
2. sent the text before you’ve even finished leaving your voicemail
I will decline every invitation to a Pampered Chef, or Scentsy party. Because I will always have plans to do something like, make my own laundry detergent, or de-pill my sweaters while listening to NPR or Relaxation Radio on Pandora. But, I will absolutely buy something if I can do so via a link that doesn’t require any human interaction.
I will call you 47 times in a row, not because it’s an emergency, or because I’m trying to be a creep. But because I can’t leave a proper voicemail message and so I will hang-up and try again, many, many, many times….before eventually giving up and sending a text instead.
So yeah, it’s not easy being my friend. Which is probably why I have so few of them. But, for all my faults, I’m a ride or die chick. The women I count among my besties, I love so much, that I would 100% help them hide a body and my only question would be, “How deep do you think we need to dig this grave?”
Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
Way back when I first signed up for Meet-up, I joined a book club for women. They were a lovely group of ladies, but it just didn’t work out. It wasn’t them, it was me, so I did what I always do and just stopped attending.
They were concerned for a while. Was I sick? Was I dead? Eventually they realized I was just an asshole and they unfriended me on Facebook and we all went our separate ways.
But, it’s been 10 years now, so when I got the notice of a new book club Meet-up, I thought….maybe I might suddenly be the type of gal who enjoys socializing with a large group of women I don’t know….this, by the way, after declining an invitation to a family members Sprinkle. Actually, I haven’t officially declined yet. I’m just going to wait until the last minute and then say I’m sick.
I know, I suck.
The details for the Meet-up said the inaugural gathering would be held at a local Mexican restaurant. I’ve eaten there on a number of occasions and they have some seriously good street taco’s….and I’ll pretty much do anything for a street taco. And I mean, anything. So, you could probably argue that a taco was the reason I signed up and confirmed my attendance.
When I arrived at the restaurant, I found the groups organizer, introduced myself, made some comment about the weather, because that’s my go to small talk tactic and then I found a seat where I awkwardly smiled and said, to all I met, “Can you believe this weather?” even though there was nothing remarkable about the weather.
When it came time to order, I picked one of the street taco selections, obviously, while the rest of the ladies ordered some kind of salad with a “hold all the good shit and can you put everything but the lettuce on the side?”
When our food arrived, I wasted no time digging in. As I was hoisting one of the taco’s to my mouth, one of the women said, “I wish I could eat like that. You’re so brave.”
Um….brave? I’m taking down a taco, not a terrorist.
I took an enormous bite, using the side of my hand to shovel in the parts that were trying to escape and looked up. My eyes clearly said, “Bitch, please,” as I slowly chewed, before swallowing and then saying, “Street taco.”
Which, to anyone with an ounce of sense, would have been a reasonable explanation, correct?
But she kept going….“I do, I envy you. I would feel so guilty.”
Me: I guess I just prefer to eat my calories, rather than drink them. (I’d seen how many margaritas she’d taken down and I can be a passive aggressive douche canoe too).
Her eyes said, “Bitch, I will have you black-balled from this book club.”
But I wasn’t scared. One of the benefits of having been raised in a largely dysfunctional and abusive household, is that I don’t really have any feelings.
And because I love nothing more than a super awkward silence, I decided not to say anything else and instead, I just sat there and exaggeratedly ate the shit out of every last taco.
No way was I going to be shamed out of the pleasure of perfectly seasoned steak, tucked into a double layer of soft, warm, corn taco shells, because Karen wanted to do that whole “Oh, I ate 150 calories today, I’m going to have to work extra hard at Globo Gym tomorrow morning,” dance that some women seem to enjoy.
Because, I feel guilty about a lot of things….
The time I filled my 6th grade math teacher’s water cup in the toilet. In my defense, she was really mean to me though and I was basically raised by wolves.
The time in elementary school when a friend dared me to call the number on a poster about a lost dog to tell the family I’d found him. And when the woman answered and I told her I had her dog at the public pool, she immediately began screaming and crying with joy and then I hung-up. Side note: I feel like maybe this was the reason God gave me cancer and I can’t say I blame him.
All the times I said my grandma died, because I wanted to take advantage of my employers bereavement leave policy.
That time in high school when I hit my friend Patrick with my mom’s minivan….and while he clung to the hood, I accelerated and then quickly hit the break, sending him flying through the air and into a concussion.
All the times I use the handicap stall in a public restroom, because I like the extra space.
All those times in my twenties I left a first date, in the middle of the first date, without saying goodbye.
But food? Eating? No.
I love food. All the food. I’m just as happy tucking into a boiled hot dog at a baseball game….with a soft pretzel covered in so much salt that I instantly swell up and don’t pee for a week….as I am a gourmet meal, at a fancy restaurant, with fancy drinks with my BFF Marie, while we catch up on life.
I grew-up believing there were only three food groups: Chef Boyardee, Betty Crocker Meal-in-a-Box and Hamburger Helper, so when I discovered the world was a literal oyster, I made it my mission to enjoy every bite. For me, food is fun. It’s a simple pleasure that is meant to be enjoyed.
Never will I ever buy into that line of thinking that a woman should only eat a thimble full of food in public.
If you want to eat lettuce and air, that’s your business, but I’m ordering something I can’t buy in a bag from the grocery store….and my own desert (I don’t like to share)….also, I’ll totally take your leftovers if you don’t want them.
Needless to say, I’m dropping out of book club. I don’t think I can mesh with the type of women who lure you into a club with the prospect of street taco’s, only to make you wonder why they didn’t just hold the meeting around the salad bar at Whole Foods.
Oh well, there’s always next decade.