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My Troubles with Eating Alone

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And Other Things That Shouldn’t Exist
03/11/2015

My Troubles with Eating Alone photo-2

I’m terrible at feeding myself.

Not literally – when it comes to getting a forkful of food to my mouth, I’m actually over 98 percent accurate. What I mean is, in this life that could be considered adult, when I am tasked to eat a meal by myself, I constantly feel as if I’m failing quite spectacularly at it.

Now don’t get me wrong, there have been successful meals in the past. One you can actually read about here! That’s right, I wrote a whole Oy!Chicago piece about how I ate dinner successfully by myself one night. But what I’m really getting at is, for some reason, eating by myself seems to pose quite the multitude of troubles for me that really shouldn’t exist.

It all began in 19-aught-87, when I was born to wonderful parents, albeit bland-paletted ones. As I grew up, my mother was not one to cook much. I blame my father. That’s honestly not meant to be mean-spirited; let’s just say that for my dad, BBQ sauce is the most exotic thing he eats – as long as it’s normal BBQ sauce, which I think to him means McDonald’s BBQ sauce. Hence, my mom didn’t cook often, so we went to restaurants often; hence, as an adult, I am often at restaurants. Ironically, despite my lacka-taste-ical upbringing, I’ve actually developed quite the diverse palette myself, relative to my family of course. So a son or a brother, since that’s how I’m relative to my family … I’m so sorry.

The irony of going to restaurants on a more than regular basis is that my introversion would lead you to believe I wouldn’t want company. It’s not that I need company, but for whatever reason, I can’t just sit there and eat. Regardless of being at a restaurant, I need to either be watching something or have my mind focused elsewhere other than on the monotonous task of chewing my food. Therefore, because I get what I like to call “All By Myself Restaurant Anxiety,” I sometimes, like to play Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” when eating, hence the title of the anxiety.

One major reason why I love all the big Jewish holidays is it gives me a reason to be around others conversing and having a spectacular meal. And while I love the leftovers that come with it, when I have to eat those leftovers alone it is just not the same. Not even close. At home, I pretty much have to be watching TV or something. It is the darndest thing and kids aren’t even saying it. I will literally plan my meals around a TV show or a sporting event which on occasion means I won’t eat dinner until roughly 9 p.m., or if I’m lucky, around softly 8:30.

When I don’t have plans to eat a meal with a companion, sometimes the struggle involves simply taking the time to eat. As a rational adult, I know that I need to eat or I will die. Not immediately of course, but pain will come via a rumbly in my tumbly if I don’t feed myself. Unfortunately, sometimes I get so hungry or as some like to say, hangry (hungry + angry) that I cease to have the ability to make any rational decisions. At that point I want to forgo any preparation time, so dinner sometimes becomes a bag of Flamin’ Hot Fritos and that weird flavored water that has been at the back of my fridge since I moved in three years ago.

I think the silliest struggle I have is the one with breakfast, the quote unquote most important meal of the day. I never eat it for the quote unquote exact reasons I’m supposed to eat it. It gets my metabolism going far too early and come lunchtime, I’m dealing with a whole different version of the Hunger Games. Yes, this paragraph was written just for that joke.

But here’s the thing, despite all these struggles, I manage to get through these spectacularly and honestly asinine troubles I have with dining by myself. Mostly because, and this is a whole different can of worms (I own about seven cans by the way), when eating alone at home, I don’t cook – I microwave. And with that microwaving, I have my fail-safe that has been my fail safe for the past two-plus decades: SpaghettiOs. Glorious, glorious SpaghettiOs.

I don’t think I’ll ever grow up.

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