Look, I firmly believe that you should always eat dessert. I go around quoting some line about “just imagine all the women on the Titanic who didn’t have dessert!” But in reality 1) I don’t really do that, and 2) I kind of think those women were probably sadder about all their dead loved ones and/or freezing to death than their reluctance to tuck into a tiramisu.
I’m a bit neurotic about what I do eat. This obviously varies in degrees – there are weeks when I eat pizza and don’t really care, and then there are weeks where I watch The Devil Wears Prada with friends and when they express wonderment at the opening montage where someone weighs out almonds I snap “that seems perfectly normal, actually.”
So, I wanted to try one day when I ate whatever I wanted without reservations (or going for a two hour run afterwards). I was down at my school for croquet weekend, where alumni typically come down and set up picnics. It seemed like a good time to eat food, and, also, to pretend I’m in a Whit Stillman movie as hard as I can. Honestly. Here is a picture:
I know you are probably wondering “did they bring forth the Imperial Wickets from all the prior years immediately after the chorus sang “For Those in Peril on the Sea?” and “how many children did you see that were named after program authors?” and the answer is “of course, you silly-head!” and “2, Dante and Augustine.” But stop with your incessant questions. I am here to recite my food diary to you. Let’s begin.
10:00: I rise. My back has spasmed.
10:30: Shit. Rolling around on the floor with my knees all up. Legs flying everyplace like a bug.
10:35: Shit, fuck you, back. Fuck you, being human. I AM NOT EATING YET.
10:40: Grab a chocolate truffle left on my bed the night before and attempt to eat it while still lying prone on the ground.
10:41: Not bad.
11:30: Have pulled myself down to the tea-room of the B&B I am staying at, which I love in part because they do the best tea service ever. Order savory tea.
11:40: This is savory tea. Hello, savory tea.:
12:00 Leave, pleasantly sated, back still in pain. Hobbling. Hobbling like someone who just ate some pretty nice cucumber sandwiches, because that is an accurate depiction of what I am.
12:15: At croquet! Immediately run into friend/former classmate. Friend leads with “I am absolutely certain you won’t have any, but there are cookies there if you want some.” Oh, foolish old friend! Fuck yes, I want cookies.
12:20: I AM COOKIE MONSTER ALL THE COOKIES.
12:22: Seriously. S’mores cookies. They made them with chocolate chips, and nuts, and marshmallows and we have to try this. You have to try this. Call my friend and get the recipe from him. Oh, for heavens sake, you have his number, we all know each other.
12:25: I am going to be real, here, the chocolate toffee blend is just not quite as good a the s’more blend. Probably because it does not have marshmallows in it.
12:30: Friend noticing how many cookies I am eating, asking if they’re really that good, congratulating him on his talent.
1:00: Chocolate dipped cookies from another tent. Champagne and chocolate dipped cookies, they are what’s for 1:00 eating hour.
1:15: I am pretty sure I could literally fly if called upon to do so. Also, I am immortal.
1:20: Like those people in the 300! Crossed with a superhero! I am going to achieve immortality by never dying!
1:22: Flapping imaginary wings really subtly.
3:00: Going to my favorite baked potato place. Eating baked potato. Cheddar and bacon. I know you would probably pick a more inventive topping – kidney beans, maybe? – but I like the standards. The standards work.
3:10: Some man in line telling me “I must have one of those metabolisms?” Considering explaining why this is a dumb thing to say to say to someone insofar as it is not true, and makes me feel incredibly guilty about eating my baked potato on Freeeatingday. Reply “Thank you! The liposuction really paid off.”
3:12: He took me at my word. Do not have the heart to tell this man I was being snarky while smiling, now having a serious conversation about liposuction, elective plastic surgery, pros, cons.
3:20: I think I’ve sold him on fat freezing!
4:00: Back at croquet. Wandering. Exhausted.
4:30: I feel as sick as I have ever felt in my life.
5:00: Home. Fall asleep immediately.
6:30: Wake up, have dinner invite from ex-boyfriend. Which is great because I am inexplicably starving. There is no logic to any of this.
7:30. At dinner. Ex-boyfriend telling waiter I will most likely have a glass of prosecco, the beet salad and the steak tartare as my main, and that “we will share the chocolate souffle, even if she says she doesn’t want it”. This is a logical assumption, because this is what I order at restaurants around 100% of the time. Not tonight, buddy!
7:31: Telling waiter I will have the crabcake to start, then the shortribs.
7:32: Asking about desserts. Really investigating this shit. Like a detective.
7:34: Apparently there is an ice cream pie.
7:34: Asking if the ice cream pie could properly be described as “glacial?”
7:35: Asking if there will be some manner of chocolate sauce on this ice cream pie.
7:35: Asking if there will be nuts of some sort.
7:36:There will be an Oreo crust? There will be! Sold, waiter! Sold on ice cream pie!
7:37: Asking if instead of prosecco I could have a glass of… Bailey’s.
7:37: Ex-boyfriend looking at me as though I am insane.
7:40: Ex asking if I am, maybe, upset about my birthday?
7:40: Replying “every time you order for me I think about throwing myself off the Titanic.”
7:41: Ex flustered, asking if that is seriously offensive, I’m laughing like a legit super-villain crazy person, now. I think it’s all the food. I think this is probably why Roman Emperors were always killing people. Telling him I am pretty sure ordering for people is still mandatory south of the Mason-Dixon line.
7:42: Thinking a lot about feminism.
7:43: Ex-boyfriend asking “is this some Megan in Mad Men move? Because you’re mad you couldn’t be there to land the Heinz account?” Shaking head.
7:45: Ex-Boyfriend asking if I can tell him why I am mad at him.
7:46: Explaining that I’m doing a piece on eating whatever I want. Case being made for “you are going to make yourself sick.” Pointing out that “the day I moderately consumed a reasonable amount” was not a catchy title.
7:47: Good fucking God, do not order Bailey’s, this stuff is ridiculous. This is absurd.
7:48: Kind of into it. Asking Ex if he’s tried this, waving it in his direction. Ex drinking scotch, wordless.
7:55: Fuck, this crab cake is delicious. Not as delicious as it could be, though. The pretzel crusted crabcake at Townhouse, say, is better. Irrationally angry that I am not eating that crabcake, on this day when I can eat whatever I want.
8:00: Reminding myself that while this is a free pass eating day, I am not actually going to die tomorrow, unless my heart explodes. Food will still exist in the world, and be there for the eating.
8:20: The short ribs are depressing. Not great. Overcooked, bad layout. Pushing them around on my plate like a sullen child. Making the pieces race one another, one with my fork, one with my knife.
8:22: Knife wins! Go, knife! Fork piece, you will be punished by going in my belly!
8:30: Vaguely aware I’m behaving very badly. I’m just smiling and racing meat pieces and really wish I’d ordered the steak tartare. Realizing that my thoughts are consumed only with food, and not with the social experience aspect of dining. Trying to listen to words, now.
8:31: Words. Reinsurance? Equity. Privately owned company. Murmuring intelligent things like, “Seattle is a place.”
8:35: Staging meat races is fucking hilarious.
8:37: But seriously – why so lame, little short rib? Why are you taunting me with how lame you are?
8:50: ICE CREAM PIE.
8:55: It would be better if it wasn’t made out of coffee ice cream. Telling Ex that I am furious at him for allowing this to happen, and that orange sherbet does taste like perfume. He laughs, but also looks genuinely terrified.
8:57: Ex takes ice cream away from me. Threaten to stab him with my fork. Tension.
8:58: Ice cream returned.
10: Back at the waltz party. Eating a strawberry with whipped cream. Officially too much. Go home and collapse. Sleep for 12 hours.
What I got out of this experience was….
1) Eating a lot of food will probably result in some wildly swinging highs and lows. In an apocalyptic sitation, I think this would be appropriate. So if the world was ending, this would definitely be an experiment I’d repeat again.
2) Other people will take your eating habits really personally. Really, really surprisingly personally, especially, I think, if you are a young woman. Or perhaps just if you’re someone who has firmly established their eating habits.
3) It’s probably impossible to eat without regret, really. Not from a “feeling physically ill” standpoint, but from a standpoint that whatever you did eat will somehow not seem good enough. I imagine if I’d tried this in, say, New York I’d regret not being able to eat things I loved from other cities. Maybe you can do this if you have a private plane, and if you’re some sort of cartoonish 1%-er who says things like “you like gelato? Let’s fly to Roma!” (Like that, “Roma”) but even then, I think it’s tough.
4) Dude. MEAT RACES.
5) I highly recommend s’mores cookies, for every reason in the world. Eat them in moderation so you do not feel sick and hollow eyed, maybe.
6) I feel like maybe I didn’t choose well enough. Please list the things you would eat on such a day. Then go out and do it. It’s an experience that will really make people think you are insane.