I’ve always been sort of a tomboy. I never liked dresses (although now I love them, I’m wearing one right now, in fact). I never was fussy in a girly-girl type of way. I hadn’t had a pedicure until I was 40. I still don’t wear make-up on a regular basis. The trappings of femininity more of less escape me.
I’m not quite sure why that is, except that my mom wasn’t much of a girly girl either. Oh sure, she was tiny and petite and loved to dress up for formal events, but she didn’t wear make-up and kept her nails short and wasn’t fussy. She also ate real food, just not very much of it.
I never really noticed any of this growing up, except that part about her getting dressed up. My father was a physician, and they attended lots of formal events. There were hospital dinners, and colleagues’ dinner parties, and parties galore. My father had his own tux, and my mother owned several glamorous gowns. I loved when they went out, because my mom and dad always looked so refined to me. The house would smell of my mother’s perfume, and my dad would slick back his hair with some gawd-awful grease that made him look quite dashing. I can’t help but smile just thinking about it.
It didn’t occur to me until many years later that there was nearly always a doggy bag from those events, and we NEVER gave the dog table food, except Kraft American cheese. That was his training treat. Why was there always a doggy bag? Because my mother never ate her entire meal, and it was too good to waste. My brother or I would get the leftovers the next day, my mother claiming that it was too rich for her.
Now I know what that phrase means, but back then I had no clue. I have to thank my mother for not making me second guess every morsel I put in my mouth, but part of me secretly wishes I knew the secret of eating like a girl from way back. I eat lunch with some lovely young teachers, and they all know the secret. They munch on peppers and hummus or pick at salads or quinoa dishes with lentils. I’m sorry, it’s all too much for me. I don’t want to eat like that.
It’s true that we didn’t eat like that at home growing up, but we didn’t eat poorly either. I blame my bad habits on hanging out with the guys. Chicken wings and beer? Sure! Pizza watching the game? You bet. Those other girls may fill their plates with raw broccoli and carrots, but I’m going to have a delicious bowl of chili. With cheese. And sour cream. And Fritos. Ok, I’m done. Except maybe I’ll have a brownie too.
Years of eating like that has certainly taken its toll. Being “one of the guys” when you’re really a girl doesn’t always pay off. I’m learning to eat better, but old habits die hard. What I wouldn’t give for a double cheeseburger and fries right now.