Several things have happened in recent weeks and months (and years),
and they have me thinking. I guess the most accurate credit for
it deserves to go back to the group trip to San Francisco in October
of 2007. On that adventure, I was a bit surprised by how underwhelmed
I was by the food.
My brother-in-law… Mike, you’ve met him on the site before… believes
that a portion of my feelings about the food on that trip comes
from how I limit myself. He wasn’t accusing me of anything wrong
in saying I prefer chicken and beef dishes while avoiding seafood.
His thought wasn’t to compare me to a picky eater that wants nothing
but chicken fingers and fries. Instead, his point was… or at least
seemed… more geared to the idea that, for all practical ways of
explaining, I am picky in a way that has closed off experiences
with some great food.
I don’t necessarily agree with Mike’s take, but I can’t fight
him on it. I can claim to be easy all I want. The reality is,
as long as people are out there saying “Bob’s coming over too,
so we need to have something that isn’t seafood” the results are
clear… I’m fussy.
And so I’ve been giving alot of consideration to my thoughts and
preferences about food. While reading a book or watching a show
involving Anthony Bourdain for instance… and even some Top
Gear travels to Japan and Vietnam… comes the question: What
would I be willing to try if I traveled to Japan or China or some
other exotic locale where perhaps the food was amazing, and yet
the virtually unyielding focus was squarely on seafood? Would
I really skip these meals (and possibilities) during a never to
be repeated journey?
then, after spending an afternoon speaking
with Tom Colicchio last summer, and having
eaten at Craftsteak… consideration must be given to the idea that
perhaps there are other things I need to try.
I have tried.
There’s one. Three years ago… not a shot. About three months ago…
yes, and I even can name a couple of versions I like more than
others. But that doesn’t mean I’m ordering calamari on a regular
basis. And I’m certainly not craving it.
I definitely can’t forget the scars from years ago, when I gave
in and tried something I was sure I didn’t like.
One day at work, someone new walks in. Cute girl. Great to be
around and talk to at work. Friendly enough that I’m interested
in getting to know her better. I eventually ask her out and she
this point, there are roughly 47,000 comments I’d like to make.
A ridiculously high percentage of those comments will do little
to advance this particular story. So allow me to simply say two
things, and you can use them in any way you wish, applying them
to this tale or not as you deem fit.
one ~ Until I met my lovely wife, you could make a very
good argument that I should have just given up on dating completely
and waited for her to arrive. I have a running joke with Justin,
where we will say “everything ends badly or else it wouldn’t end”
as a way of letting go of those inexplicable moments where the
world just doesn’t look kindly upon you. (We also have a few sayings
about how women tend to be involved in everything evil brought
upon us. That’s just not important right now.) The fact remains…
and oh yes, it is a fact… my social life before my wife was a
mess. Just a joke. I was, frankly on an inexcusably high number
of occasions, the nice guy that over and over and over again suffered
the fate of not enjoying a fun or lasting relationship because
I wasn’t a jerk.
two ~ This particular girl would eventually take over spot number
two on the list of “Reasons why every girl named Jennifer should
be avoided at all costs” in my life. Face it… we all have a name
that we should avoid… due to experiences with one person or several.
Jennifer is that name for me. And considering legendary tales…
“The Work Christmas Party of 1992” and “Hey, there’s a pool table
in this basement”… there are two things that I will never be able
to overcome and should just simply accept: (1) This particular
Jennifer honestly should be number one on my list of reasons to
avoid every Jennifer in the world. (2) That particular Christmas
party, and how I behaved, should have earned me instant sainthood
as well as sap-of-the-decade honors.
get back to 1992…)
had gone out and it went fine. She was a bit younger than me…
a few years in age, and a few decades in maturity. (Item number
three… but not related to her name, so I didn’t include it there…
there is a reason why the better relationships I have had involved
older women. (Wait… I mean older woman… singular… lovely wife
of mine… older woman.)) And it did become apparent that
we didn’t have much in common.
we got together once or twice soon after that first date, and
for some reason she invited me over for dinner. I don’t recall
made shrimp parmigian.
pause here while those that know me really well chuckle for a
I ate it.
now I’ll pause while those same friends wonder whether or not
don’t know why I ate it. (Ok… that’s a lie. We all know why
I ate the shrimp. Because she cooked it. And despite every sign
saying we weren’t in a relationship and it wasn’t going to develop
into one, it was still in those early stages of trying to make
the right impressions instead of standing up for likes and dislikes
and differences. But I ate the shrimp and still didn’t get the
girl. Pay attention and stay with me and where I’m going here.)
so here I am today… torn.
don’t need to impress anyone these days. I can say no to my wife
when she suggests a restaurant or movie or whatever and not panic
that there won’t be a second date because of it. (In fact, I can
say no to my wife and the end result will likely be her leaving
me alone while the ballgame is on. That’s like a win.)
the lessons learned in the past are simple. My educated guesses…
I don’t like most seafood for a reason… generally turn out to
be pretty accurate. And experience shows that when I’ve given
in and gone against those instincts, I wind up losing in more
ways than one.
I can’t help but thinking that I do need to take more chances.
I need to say yes a bit more and try some new things. (It would
probably help if Zooey Deschanel was involved in the process…
Yes Man wasn’t awesome, but I enjoyed that film.)
won’t be tossing swordfish on the grill… but I suppose if I plan
on going to the Great Wall or Tokyo Disneyland or experiencing
some fantastic cooking, I shouldn’t punish myself by saying no
just because of a girl named Jennifer and a plate of shrimp.
least, I think that’s what I think.