I have a close friend who is naturally very slender and yesterday I received a phone call from her requesting a visit. Specifically, she wanted us to go out and have a milkshake and a piece of chocolate cake. I told her I was happy to go along for the ride, but that since I had just made myself a cheeseburger, I didn’t feel that eating sweets would be a very wise choice for me.
Now the point of recording this is actually not to highlight a moment to be proud of – although I am, especially considering the shake she was suggesting is my all time favorite flavor. The reason I want to write a post about this is that I was totally surprised when my answer turned out to not be adequate. She was obviously unsatisfied and pressed me more, raising the point that it was a pastime meant to evoke commiseration and camaraderie. Now she is a great girl and was not even a little bit rude when she was trying to convince me to eat with her, but I was really shocked that it was an issue.
Not that I should be. In today’s society we go for coffee, meet for lunch, bring pastries to business meetings, have friends over for dinner, and go to the bar to watch the game. These are all common practices that completely revolve around what we put in our mouths. We are a civilization comforted by the common practices of eating and drinking. In this busy world, we enjoy visiting and socializing with others more when we feel justified in slowing down, and we do this by fueling our bodies in some form or another while simultaneously engaging in social interactions.
This is not to say that it is not a valid practice. I, myself, would never dream of failing to offer some sort of sustenance to a guest in my home. I was just unsettled by the idea that people put so much stock in this custom that challenging the status quo leaves them scrambling to correct any divergence from the norm.
Maybe I’m over-analyzing the whole thing. Maybe my friend just had a moment that was uncharacteristic yet perfectly timed to get me thinking on this subject. I do know that like the great person she is, she respected my second refusal and we went out anyhow. She ate and I didn’t, and I never felt like I was missing out on anything.