Posts Tagged ‘Eating’

She moves through the office of pencil skirts, short shorts and barely-there bottoms, feeling like her very walk is an apology on behalf of women with thick ankles and swaying backsides everywhere. She hugs the files to her chest, hoping they cover what should probably be the least of her worries and tries to hold her head high.

She gets as far as the third cubicle.

Sure that Monica produces a snicker, certain Shelley looks up from her ledgers and giggles, mortified that Terry might’ve just let out one big howl⎯she looks down at her feet.

And walks on.

She endures growing consciousness with every step. Aware that the fabric in her own knee length skirt bunches with every movement, mindful no one wears hose anymore as her own cause her to sweat right through her high-wasted undies, regretful of the tightish blouse she’d questioned herself on twice this morning before eventually locking her apartment door with a sigh.

Today is no different than yesterday or the day before or the day before that. Her clothes never fit right. Never look right. Never, ever, feel right. She doesn’t walk the aisles with the ease the other women do. She doesn’t head in early to stand at the Keurig allowing everyone to acknowledge her new, may as well be painted on, skinny jeans.

Why did she chose an office where every day is Friday?

No, she comes in early to clamber into her chair and hide behind her desk before anyone else gets in. She waits well past much needed bathroom breaks, hoping for a clear coast and sits parched long after everyone else is off to be fed and watered.

“Hey, Dot. Sitting in again?”

Her boss is a tall man⎯thin and wiry, looming over her desk like a flag at full-mast.

“Oh, yeah, I guess. Just finishing these last reports.”

He glances at all the other desks sprinkled with open files, papers askew, clearly nowhere near completion.

“In a dream world, your co-workers would do the same.” He laughs.

“Well, we can’t all be perfect,” she jokes nervously.

She’s good at her job. Gets her work done. She’s thorough, accurate and always on time. She works through her lunch and stays late without complaining. She is perpetually professional and despite what she feels is a less than desirable façade; her appearance is unfailingly tidy.

“So true.” He smiles. “Ah, well I hope you get time to eat at some point today. I wouldn’t want you fading away.”

Her face is a fiery inferno. Fading away? Is he making fun of her now too?

With shaky hands hidden below the desk’s surface, she tries desperately to smooth out the fabric covering her belly. She pulls her body out of its slouch and shifts in her chair.

“No chance,” she replies uneasily. “I’m hardly that fragile.”

Mr. Brig looks her up and down and then directly in the eye.

“Don’t underestimate yourself, Dot.”

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Her thumbprints are still in the bread. I can see them, little oval dimples through the glossy plastic wrap. My hands shake as I unfold the flimsy, sticky film protecting my sandwich. The sandwich she’d made me this morning. The sandwich we’d argued over. The sandwich I am now eating at midnight.

I don’t like whole wheat bread. That’s all I’m saying.”

She’d stood at the counter, morning light from the window ghosting her custard colored hair, her hands busily dispersing the zero fat spread she’d bought to replace my mayonnaise.

“It’s selfish, Darren. Your cholesterol is high. If you want to leave me, you can just say so. Slow self-sabotage is much too drawn out.”

“Well, I’m my own self to sabotage.” I’d said. “I don’t like whole wheat bread and I don’t like fake mayo. Why bother eating?”

I’d watched, my anger mounting, her fingers sinking into the fresh brown slices as she aggressively wrapped, chucking the finished product into my bag alongside the veggies she’d spent her morning washing and cutting.

“We bother eating, so we don’t starve,” she’d gritted tightly, “and we eat healthily, so that we don’t die,” she went on, “and we don’t die, before our time if we can help it, Darren, so that we don’t desert the person who has graciously chosen to spend our whole, assumedly long lives with us, while they’re still in their early forties!” Picking the bag up, she’d forcefully pressed it into my chest as she walked out of the room.

I hadn’t gone after her. I was a little hung over from the poker game the night before and besides, I was tired of her nagging. She thought she knew everything, always right. Heaven forbid anyone had a differing opinion or an alternate take on things.

Before I’d left, I’d thrown the bag of food on the bottom step with a scribbled note;

‘Think I’ll buy lunch today. A double bacon cheeseburger sounds great right about now’.

She’d be furious. A smile had hovered at the corners of my mouth.

I’d driven in to work, still ranting, wading through all the things about her that made me insane; my water glass disappearing into the dishwasher before I was done with it, the tied baggies of garbage she’d leave hanging off various doorknobs throughout the house as she cleaned, always onto the next thing before remembering to dispose of them, making the bed the moment I was out of it, closing any window for me to hop back in and forgetting to pay the bills, distracted by the kids or the house, the gas company forever threatening disconnection.

But by the time I’d pulled into the parking lot, I had mellowed. Pondering her flaws, I’d come to realize they weren’t really flaws. They were more like quirks. Quirks were okay, weren’t they? So maybe my glass vanished all the time, but that meant it was getting tidied all the time, as were the full garbage cans and the messy bed and the bills always got paid in the end. If she was busy with the kids or the house, I should be grateful, shouldn’t I?

As the car door had swung shut, I’d decided I’d been a selfish bastard and had practically run through the parking lot, eager to get the day over with so I could get back home to her.

Now, twelve hours later, so much has changed. I sit, chewing in time with her breathing, the ventilator’s accordion flip-flopping oxygen into her lungs. She’s not taking it willingly, grappling with the insistent machine. I can almost hear her; it’s not natural…inorganic. I can do it on my own.

She’d fallen after I’d left this morning, opening her head on the corner wall facing the stairs. They’d found her face down, my blood-soaked note between her slender fingers, the strap of my bag still looped around her ankle.

“…we don’t desert the person who has graciously chosen to spend our whole, assumedly long lives with us, while they’re still in their early forties!”

“I’m eating it, honey.” I whisper into the darkness. “I’ll eat whatever you want.” The sandwich sticks in my throat as I realize what she wants is for me to fight for her.

So much has changed since this morning but so much has stayed the same.


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“I know, right?” She agrees, clicking her tongue.

I try, but I can’t stop staring at her mouth. Her teeth are so white now, they’re almost blue and the effect makes her lips and tongue look like cream soda drenched cotton candy.

Am I missing something? Either I’m imagining our conversation or, all of a sudden, I’m in need of hearing aids. Either way, I cannot believe she’s ordering what she’s ordering. I grit my teeth as I hear her say;
“I’ll have the tomato salad. Ah, is there sugar in the dressing?”

“Yes,” says our server.

“Dressing on the side, then please. Actually, no dressing. None at all. And, oh! No avocado. I know it’s good fat and everything,” she flutters her polished nails, “but I’m completely fat free right now.”

“Yes, M’am.” Patiently accommodating, he explains; “I just want to make sure you realize it will basically be tomatoes then, with a little bit of vinegar, salt and pepper.”

Yes, yes, fine,” Tasia agrees. “Wait, no oil, right?”

“That’s a given. M’am.” he says, head down.

I’m caught off guard. Only moments ago, we’d discussed chicks who want burgers but order leaves, ladies who ask for side dressing and use the whole portion anyway, women who only drink Skinny Girl cocktails…by the dozen.

Our waiter glances at me and I flush, instantly wanting to change my order. My medium rare New Yorker with sautéed garlic prawns now seems a tad excessive.

But, almost as instantly, I regret my brush with backpedalling.

I want the steak dammit, and the prawns. I don’t want to pay just as much for tomatoes with salt as I will for a real meal.  I do not want to be a fake bitch that drinks Skinny Girl. I mean, if I’m gonna drink Skinny Girl, I’m gonna mean it; a three cocktail cut-off, for sure.

“I’m good,” I tell him. I’ll live with whatever kind of fat I’ve ordered.”

“Yes, Miss. Excellent choice.”

“So, anyway,” Tasia starts the moment our server turns his back. “What have you been up to?” Her big, black-lined eyes tilt up and away from her Pellegrino, flickering over various parts of my being.

“Well, the shop keeps me…”

“Did you hear the waiter, by the way? I mean, he pretty much insulted me by complimenting you. Not cool.”

“I don’t think he…”

“He will not be getting a good tip from me,” she continues. “Not cool at all.”

I attempt to distract her; “You know, work, I’m consumed with trying to…”

“Oh my God. I forgot to tell you. Paul and Maxine? They split!” She almost looks happy announcing it and I feel a little sick.

“Weren’t they, I mean, married for like, ever?”

“Yeah, crazy, huh?” She manages to sip her bubbling water and maintain a smug look at the same time.

“Don’t they have kids? How many kids do they have…?”

“Two, three? I don’t know, God. I’m just trying to tell you, they’re done. He found someone else…had it going for a while, like, a couple of years while. So typical.


The corners of her super pink mouth are frothy, cream soda foaming over the side of a cup and I focus on that, not wanting to say regretful things.

“Sad.” I mumble.

Our meals come. Well, my meal and her salted tomatoes.

“Do you have bread?” She questions the waiter.

“Of course, yes,” he replies. “But I thought…”

This is simply tomatoes. I need a little more substance.” Tasia looks to me, expecting empathy, but I shift my glance to the topiary tree behind her. I decide it looks like it’s growing out of the top of her head.

“Definitely,” he replies. “I’ll bring the bread right away.”

“Whole wheat. Light margarine.”

My food looks delicious and the steam rising up, infusing my pores is mouthwatering. The garlic, the butter, the meat…all divine.

Oh my, can you smell the grease? Insane, right?

What’s insane, I think to myself, is that you’re commenting while slathering even more margarine on top of that already thick layer.

“Maxine,” I interrupt. “Is she okay? Are they, you know, going to try counseling?”

“God, no. Are you crazy? He cheated on her, Em. You don’t recover from that.”
“Well, their history, the kids…anything’s…”

“Ugh! This vinegar is so bitter. How do they get away with this?” She moves her plate to the middle of the table and takes out her phone.

I think back to high school and lunches with Tasia. We haven’t seen each other in years, but not a lot has changed.

“Save me a seat!” she’d shout down the hall the period before lunch, already knowing I would. Just like she knew I’d give her money when she forgot her wallet, like she knew I’d rush to my locker, throw in my books and fight the desire to organize them to save a few seconds, like she knew I’d hurry to the dining hall to snag two stools side by side.

Like she knew I’d wait.

I’d wait while she chatted to Mel and Sean, wait while she flirted with Mr.Polson and wait while she butted the line to get her lunch ahead of mine, fanning the tenner I’d lent her earlier in Troy Danning’s face while she fiddled and fluttered.

“Ah, you’re such a sweetie!” she’d exclaim approaching our table. “Like Sawyer; always waiting for me. You just need a tail to wag. You’re the best, Em.

And with a flip of her ponytail, my head would sink as she’d plunk down her tray, straddle the stool and delve into whatever gossip was happening around us. I was sure to throw my sweater over my own spot, knowing she wouldn’t shoo anyone away if they tried to take it while I lined for lunch.

Looking up from my plate, I see she’s still tapping at her screen. I eat my grease in silence and, I have to admit, I enjoy every bit of it, the calories, the quiet and the calm.

“I bet he wasn’t getting any.” Head still down, she continues. “You know as well as I do, she’s a total prude. Remember when …?”

Wiping my mouth with my crisp, cloth napkin, I, possibly for the first time ever; cut her off;

“I really don’t want to get into it. We don’t know the first thing about their marriage. Speculating is definitely not fair.”

“Well, all I’m saying is…”

Instead of looking surprised when I stand, she squints, her huge, round eyes melding into selfish slits.

You’ll have to pay, Tasia. I forgot my wallet.”

I swear our server gives me a nod of approval as I fling my purse over my shoulder and walk out the door, head held high.


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