I have a couple pet peeves. Being told to calm down. That’s probably #1. I CAN’T CALM DOWN. FOR GOOD AND FOR BAD. FOR BETTER AND FOR WORSE. I LIVE LIFE AT 100 FUCKING PERCENT AND I CANNOT CALM DOWN. If I could, I would. But I can’t.
I’ve got two other big ones. Don’t tell me what you did can’t make me feel some way. My soul dictates my feelings, not your design for me. Period.
Darling, if I offer you a cookie:
EAT. THE. FUCKING.COOKIE.
Oh, wait? Did you think I was offering you a snack? Some extra cals for your food log? A chance to rot your teeth?
Au contraire, mon frère.
It’s gifting, dears. It comes down to that. I am gifting you something — and this one’s something easy. Something I made – or paid – for. Something that is generally considered awesome. So when I lift out my hand, and I offer you a sweet — please reach out your hand and receive. I’m offering you more than a treat. I am offering a piece of me.
I was a hardcore vegetarian for many years. I didn’t run around preaching a meatless life, I just stuck to meatless meals. I never went hungry, without meat on my plate. I never felt sad, without blood running down my chin. I ate plenty and happily.
I fell in love with food in Italy. I ate better than I had ever dreamed, and though some folks questioned how I got on without meat, I answered them with hearty plates full of pasta and veggies, pizzas with mounds of mozzarella but no sausage.
One afternoon, I went to an eatery deep in the heart of a local university. Mamma Maria’s. Still today, I can’t believe it was real. The eatery was an extension of Maria’s home. There were tables in a common room, but the dream was to get the table in her kitchen. In her real and actual kitchen, where the lovely old lady was making the magic happen. The heavens opened for us the day we went. She invited us into the kitchen, and there we sat.
We were in there for what felt like hours. Course after course, laugh after laugh. When the meat course was on its way, I told her to pass me by. Just skip my plate and I’ll get back on the train for the next thing around, I relayed. She stepped back, horrified. There was shock on her face, and worry and fear. I saw her scrambling. Not just to understand, but a physical scramble, moving about the kitchen rapidly, her furrowed brow at the helm.
And when the meat course came, she placed the traditional fare on the plates of my friends — and then, on mine — roughly three pounds of cheese. I had various types, textures and flavors. I had cheese for the evening, the next morning, and for the following week. I had more cheese than I could ever want. More cheese than I wanted.
Mamma Maria had been so scared that I’d go hungry without the meats, that she piled high my plate with what she deemed the next best thing.
I thanked her graciously and then I ate enough to have her see me eat. And then, I began stuffing mounds of cheese into my lap. I stuck pieces together, like rubber band balls, and wrapped them up in paper napkin, dropping them into the purse at my feet. I kept my eyes up, while my hands worked furiously down below. A pond duck.
A year or so later, I sat, two a.m., outside a food truck in the cool night air. We’d been dancing all night, and needed food, not for more dancing, but for the strength to find home.
I sat next to Lisa, who was purring and panting, going on and on about ‘the best hamburger of her life.’
She kept trying to get me to eat it. Just taste it. Just please.
I was steadfast in my denial. I already ate. I don’t eat meat. I’m fine. No thanks. But she kept on, and on, and wanted me to eat it so badly, that at a certain point, I threw my hands up in the air and grabbed onto the bun. I bit in.
We deny gifts all day long, and for so many different reasons. I don’t want. I don’t need.
We hear people offer us a thing. An object. A thing.
That’s not it, friends. I’m offering you, me.
So the next time someone holds out their hand, take one for the team.
The team is you. The team is us. The human race. The we.