m.f.k.f. monday, the art of eating alone

 

i don't know what i eat.

that's not exactly true.

i know what i like and what i don't like to eat, yes.

but i don't know what i eat when i'm on my own.

this might, more than learning new neighborhoods and starting new classes, scare me more than anything else about moving.

 

i've never lived alone.

i don't know who i am without other people around.

and, worst of all, i don't know what i'm going to eat.

i'll subsist, but i have no clue on what.

 

our good friend, ms. m.f.k. fisher ran into this problem herself, and she actually wrote about it at length in her essay "a is for dining alone" (here quoted from my copy of her anthology the art of eating).

she starts it off saying:

“a is for dining alone… and so am i, if a choice must be made between most people i know and myself. this misanthropic attitude is one i am not proud of, but it is firmly there, based on my increasing conviction that sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly” (fisher 577).

there is something very lonely about eating alone.

as people, we tend to be sociable with our meals.

they're our sources of conversation, our basis to create bonds and connections and friendships.

 

and yet, they also serve to divide us.

“naturally there have been times when my self-made solitude has irked me. i have often eaten an egg and drunk a glass of jug-wine, surrounded deliberately with the trappings of busyness, in a hollow Hollywood flat near the studio where i was called a writer, and not been able to stifle my longing to be anywhere but there, in the company of any of a dozen predatory or ambitious or even kind people who had not invited me.

“that was the trouble: nobody did” (fisher 577).

elementary school sucked.

big time.

i could go into details, but here's the big thing you need to know: my birthday is september 2.

school often started on my birthday or right around it.

nobody ever knew about it, not even the teachers.

i never had cupcakes in class.

school friends never came to my birthday parties.

i never even got the stupid birthday pencils.

and my name was never on the class birthday calendar. (or it showed up a month after the fact.)

there were already so many divisions between my classmates and me, but my birthday always felt like the crowning, miserable achievement.

because, you know, cupcakes matter when you're eight.

and not being invited to share cupcakes or not being able to share cupcakes because it's-a-school-night or so-and-so-is-still-out-of-town or do-we-even-know-if-they're-still-at-your-school?-i-think-she-might-have-moved really, really sucks.

 

“it has for too long been the same with the ambitious eaters, the amateur chefs, and the self-styled gourmets, the leading lights of food-and-wine societies. when we meet, in other people’s houses or in restaurants, they tell me a few sacrosanct and impressive details of how they baste rouse with truffle juice, then murmur, ‘wouldn’t dare serve it to you, of course,’ and forthwith invite some visiting potentate from nebraska, who never saw a truffle in his life, to register the proper awe in return for a lucullan and perhaps delicious meal” (fisher 578).

eating with others is still a very strange thing for me now, and i've actually been starting to run into the same problem ms. fisher ran into.

the more i've learned, the more i've experimented, the more helpless i've felt about my dining choices.

even friends and family (you probably don't know who you are — that's okay) have made comments about not wanting to cook for me.

words and knowledge can be intimidating, but they don't have to be.

and don't even get me started on self-entitlement.

my family made up out own crest.

and then i think we lost it.

that's how entitled i am.

pretty impressive, right?

i don't think i'm going to mind if your soufflé sags or the cap falls off the blue food dye into the wrong bowl.

cause really, i do the same things.

just probably more often.

 

“that was when i decided that my own walk-up flat, my own script-cluttering room with the let-down bed, was the place for me. ‘never be daunted in public’ was an early hemingway phrase that had more than once bolstered my in my timid twenties. i changed it resolutely to ‘never be daunted in private’” (fisher 580).

i think i'm going to live off of breakfast pasta.

or hummus and cucumbers.

or maybe pepperoni slices and pita chips for weeks at a time.

maybe.

or i might make barrels of gazpacho soup and freeze them in serving portions and get sick of them mid-way through winter and throw half of them out.

i don't know.

i might set a place for myself at the table.

or eat pacing standing up while i type seeds posts.

or maybe the phebe cat will curl up in bed with me while i drink baileys hot chocolates at three a.m. and watch old episodes of lost in space.

this could go any number of ways.

it'll be an adventure.

a scary, fun adventure, but an adventure all the same.