Monday, March 27, 2006

when i know what i want

Ordering food at a restaurant is only slightly less painful for me than losing a toenail (which, it turns out, isn’t as painful as it sounds, but that is beside the point.) I hate the pressure. I hate how everyone else always knows what they want before I know what I want. Really the debate is between going with something I’ve had roughly 387 times and know I like, or choosing something new that shows promise, but with no guarantee that I’ll leave satisfied. I mean, if I’m going to pay upwards of $4.50 for my meal, it had better be dang good. I loathe the realization that I don’t like the expensive food on my plate, and it’s too late to make any changes. So every time I go to a restaurant, I just sit there. I wait for everyone else at the table to list what they are getting as if their choices will somehow inspire my choice. I wait, and I wait, and then when the server comes back to the table for the seventh time I finally cave in: “What would you recommend?” Restaurants have to be one of the dumbest places I ask for advice. What are the chances that the server has the same taste palette that I do, and could actually recommend something that I would enjoy? What I really want is validation that whatever it is that I’ve already kind of sort of decided on is a restaurant favorite. And then I generally end up going with the old standby anyway, because, apparently, I crave stability and fear the unknown.

But what if the unknown is what would really be best for me? What if, and I’ve moved out of the restaurant and am speaking of life in general now, the things that I have chosen for years, and that I find comfortable, are not the things that could make me the happiest? I mean, I’ve been choosing good things all along, I think, but maybe if I try something unexpected, just every once in a while, I will discover new things that will open up and change my life. Who knew I would like blue cheese on steak? Or anything with the word “chipotle” in it? Or lip gloss, for that matter? But, I do. I tried all three and discovered that I loved them. Recently, of course, I made one of the bigger leaps of my life and started dating someone who is not the same race as me. Granted, it was something I’d never given much thought, one way or the other, but it’s different in that there are things that come up as cultural differences between us that I’ve never encountered before. And, to be honest, given the choice on a menu, I would probably have gone with the familiar meat loaf and baked potato over the stir-fry and curry, just because I play it safe and, as established earlier, fear the unknown. I have no idea why this time I chose different, but how lucky am I that for some reason I did? And now I would be okay if he was the only thing on the menu. For the rest of my life. Now that I’ve made the choice, and am having the experience, all I can say is, “Thank you for changing my life. Thank you for bringing in a million things that I would never have encountered in my own sheltered, Midwest culture.” So, there you go, Somebody. That’s how I feel about the interracial relationship. Bring on the tiny octopus and the funky cabbage. You are spicing up my life.

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