May 29, 2006

Are you going to eat THAT?

I’ve dated men with food issues. Actually, no, I only dated ONE man with food issues. He hated anything creamy such as cheese, Ranch dressing, or sauces. He wouldn’t eat Indian or French or Italian. Going out to eat was an ordeal.

I ONLY like things that are clear! he’d bellow.
Then drink a glass of water! I fired back.

What’s wrong with Ranch dressing? In junior high, the salad bar was the diet discovery of the Decade. Let’s go to Marie Calendar’s, slather a piece of lettuce with a quart of Ranch Dressing. And then reward ourselves with a five-pound brick of cornbread! Why we didn’t lose weight we could never figure out.

Anyway, I love creamy foods. Milk, cheese … it’s not gluttony; it’s a woman’s instinct for calcium. But my ex-boyfriend didn’t see it that way. He saw it as a hateful assault. And never saw me being more hateful toward him than when I ate mayonnaise. He hated mayonnaise like Paris Hilton hates Nicole Richie. If I dared defy him and eat tuna salad, he would storm out in a rage, as if I’d told him I was cheating on him. But then, he was a freak.

Well, thank God yesterday's gone. And thank God I found a guy who's as accepting as the previous guy was a drill sergeant.

I love Larry. For all the reasons that matter: his spiritual beliefs, his style, his sense of humor. Not to mention we share the same tastes in music and film.

And Larry loves cheese! He even eats Ranch Dressing. Of course he does have his food issues. Chiefly, carbs. He won’t eat them. They’re evil. Sure, he can pack away a pound of pork sausage and brie in a sitting. But he won’t eat bread or cookies or cakes … scones. Mmm, scones!. It was a big deal for him to eat the Key Lime pie our waitress offered us at our engagement dinner.

You need to eat carbs, Lar.
I do. I eat trail mix. And the occasional salad.
You need to eat LOTS of salad. And what’s wrong with carbs? Like potatoes and rice?

Larry smiled, I eat tortilla chips.
He does. I’ve seen him.

I hate Dr. Atkins. Before he died of a stroke, he suckered a generation of dieters into thinking that carbs are evil. But carbs are in the food chain! They provide fuel. Atkins has demonized potatoes and rice. What’s wrong with rice? The entire third world survives on rice. And you don’t see them dying of obesity. Sure there are bad carbs, like cake and pie and scones and … mmm, ah, scoooooooones. But animal protein isn’t perfectly innocent either. Your liver has to work to digest it. Eat LOTS of meat, and your liver works harder. Your body pees so much to get rid of the liver toxins, you can drain your bones of calcium. And animal fat clogs your arteries. Meat isn't evil. Carbs aren’t evil. The Atkins Diet is evil.

I myself am much more balanced. I prefer the Tootsie Roll Diet.

But I love Larry. So I eliminated Tootsie Rolls (just for today). He’s been eating the occasional chip. And rice. So I’ll let him manage his own life. I did tell him he HAS to get a full checkup, including a kidney screen and an EKG. I don’t want to be a widow in five years. Besides, I remember too well the Mayonnaise Wars.

The other night at a party, I was completely avoiding the pastries and chocolate cake, and made myself a plate of fresh veggies, cheese, and even a few pieces of a sourdough baguette. I sat down with Larry and he leaned over. Eat that, and I can’t kiss you or touch you for the rest of the evening.

I thought he meant the bread. But no. His finger pointed directly at a vegetable on my plate. A living, green, vegetable: packed with nutrients, fiber, and mild flavor. A stalk of celery. Larry hates celery. It makes him gag.
You can smell that? I asked. Larry can’t smell the decaying cardboard boxes or dust bunnies that overrun his apartment. But he can smell a stalk of celery?

Yup. From here.
Well, it's too late.
I pulled my napkin away to reveal a half-eaten stalk of the Green Menace.

He gasped in mock horror. Guess I can’t kiss you now.
Guess not
, I smirked back.
He laughed. And he kissed me anyway.

I knew he was only joking. Sort of. I went upstairs, brushed my teeth and gargled, came back down and breathed on him.
All better!
He smiled. Aw, you didn't have to do that. I kissed you .
But you didn't like it.

A life without celery? Ah, all the holiday meals that will never be. No turkey stuffing with celery. No home made chicken soup with celery. No Dr. Brown’s Celery Soda. I’ll have to skulk around the produce mart the way alcoholics sneak off to the bar.

But Larry’s worth it. It’s a negligible trade-off for all the incredible things that he is, the things we both love together. Including cheese.

Now if I can just get him to eat sushi.

Want to read Larry's account of the evening? Read Celery Sins

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