I’m not one to play the one-up game… but I think I probably have her beat. I’m just a half-step shy of a straight-jacket and a protective helmet. Any tiny little insult or aggravation could plunge me into the abyss. So don’t be a dickhead; you don’t want me on your conscience for the rest of your life.
(Okay, fine, so it could be worse, I suppose. Despite my rather obvious failings and peccadillos, I’m still able to function, more or less, in society. I’m not completely antisocial, or maniacal, or misanthropic. I don’t belong to a cult. I don’t (currently) suffer from psychoses, or mood swings, or even trichotillomania. So it could be worse. Hell, I could be Harland Williams. If that isn’t enough to drive a guy off a tall building, I don’t know what the hell is.)
Anyway, I don’t want to go into the full list of oddball bullshit that I make myself — and the ones I love, naturally — put up with. Neither of us has that kind of time. Plus, I’ve covered a lot of it before; check out some of my 100 Things, or browse through the archives. Really, there’s plenty enough maladjusted, schizophrenic nonsense in there for everyone. Trust me.
But Lara has inspired me to mention something that I haven’t written about before. First, I’ll say that I usually eat the way she does — crappy junk first, and tasty stuff last. Really, that’s the only way that makes sense. You don’t want to be down to your last bite or two of dinner, staring at the last three Brussels sprouts or a lukewarm lump of liver. That ruins the whole damned meal. So, of course you gobble that crap up first — and as fast as you can, lest you smell or taste the rancid shit — and save the good shit till the end. The steak, or the garlic bread, or whatever’s smothered in cheese. That’s what eating’s all about.
That’s not the real kicker, though. What I’m really here to confess is that I’m a ‘plate cleaner’. I mean a compulsive plate cleaner. At home, in a restaurant, at a dinner party — it really doesn’t matter. If it’s on my plate, and it’s not obviously garnish or silverware of some kind, then it’s goin’ in my mouth. And if there’s sauce or liquid of some kind involved, then I’m getting just about all of that, too. I’ll use whatever absorbent-looking food I can find to sop, squeegee, or scoop whatever juicy goodness (or even not-so-goodness) is on my plate.
Really, it’s not important whether I like the food, though tasty dishes are a lot easier to clean up than bland, nasty crap. But the critical thing is that I finish it. Mealtimes are strategy sessions — potatoes have to be saved for a while, since they’re good at soaking up sauce and gravy. Bread’s a good liquid-control food, too. Tortilla chips are good for scooping. Every food has it’s purpose and place; my chowtimes are veritable symphonies of action — a well-placed bit of chicken here, a dinner roll put to good use there. And all the while, the fork is flying — sculpting, pushing, and mixing the foods, all with the final goal in mind: total and complete annihilation of all foods on the plate. No crumb shall be uneaten. No drop of sauce remains. When I’m done, you’d never know that there was food on the plate to begin with. The plate’s clean enough to eat from.
(Well, okay, not that clean. There’s probably some drool and stuff on it. C’mon, it’s just a saying.)
And why do I go to such trouble? Well… um… er… honestly, I don’t know. My friends don’t obsessively clean their plates. My wife doesn’t do it. Hell, my parents don’t even do it. You’d think that if I got it from anyone, it would be from my parents ramming, ‘Clean your plate! Clean your plate!‘ down my throat while I was growing up.
But they didn’t. One of my father’s favorite sayings is, ‘Eat what you want. But want what you eat.‘ Which seems to be some weird, old-fart way of saying, ‘Just eat until you get full, then stop. Don’t worry about what’s left on the plate.‘
And yet, I do worry about what’s left. Or rather, I would, if I ever left anything behind. But it just doesn’t happen. I’m routinely accused of licking my plate, or letting the dog clean it, or wiping the remnants into my hair.
(The last of which probably comes from my being a messy eater, and ending up with food on my shirt, or hands, or yes, in my hair. Hey, I said the food’s got to get the hell off my plate. I never said it had to all make it to my mouth. I’m not getting any points for technique here.)
So, that’s my story. If I thought you could think any less of me, I might not have told you. But I suspect that this changes your opinion of me very little, if at all. Honestly, how far could I possibly have to fall? And now I’m done. I think I’ll go eat a cookie to celebrate. And when I say ‘eat a cookie’, you can bet your ass I mean the whole cookie. I’ll chomp down every last bite, and then mouth-Hoover the crumbs off the napkin. If I lose a few on the floor, that’s fine. My loss; the dog’s gain — that’s fair. But you better believe that the napkin — or the plate, if I use one — will be pristinely clean when I’m done. Why? Dunno. That’s just how it happens. When the cookie crumbles in my house, it still gets eaten. No damned cookie is gonna get away from me. Not in my house.Permalink | 2 Comments