Let’s say you go to dinner with Friend A (who for the purposes of this post is now named Annamaria, a sultry brunette with masses of soft hair and curves to die for). (Oh, I seem to be a bit lesbian today.) Dinner is charming and when the plates are cleared and the waitress leans in confidingly to ask, “Did you save room for our Chocolate Salted Caramel Slab of Really Bad For You Deliciousness?,” you will look to Annamaria to gauge her reaction.
(Oh – I see. I’m not trending lesbian; I’m trending hungry.)
If Annamaria says “Hell yes, I saved room,” then you will feel a great sense of relief and demand to see the entire dessert menu because perhaps what you really wanted instead is Warm Fruit Stewed With Heaping Cups of Sugar Over a Slab of Buttery Golden Pastrylike Something, with a side of ice cream to cut the sweet, and you need to know you’ve been presented with all your dessert options. After all, if Annamaria is getting dessert, it would be RUDE and stick-in-the-muddish not to do the same. You’re friends, after all.
Now let’s say you go to dinner with Friend B (which stands for Birgid, a natural warrior goddess with a light, face-only ski tan and close-cropped golden hair). Birgid is fueling her body for her upcoming trek through Mongolia (she’s studying Przewalski’s horse) (I have oddly specific images of Friends A and B), and the waitress’s offer of dessert meets with a disinterested smile that says – perfectly kindly – “Of course not; don’t you see I’m on a mission here? I can’t carry gooey caramel with me into the grasslands; I’d be eaten by a snow leopard.”
In that case, you too offer your “no thank you” smile and head shake. You’re not going to sit there spooning in whipped cream while confronted by a swanlike neck and cheekbones of Cumberbatchian sharpness. It would be rude… and stupid. She’s glowing with good health; you should probably follow her everywhere and eat only what she eats.
The trouble with humans is that most people’s bodies crave a taste of sweetness at the end of a meal. (Chip, the nutritionist at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA, explained the science behind it, but I can no longer remember the why – only the fact that it’s real.) That craving fades after about 20 minutes, but for those 20 minutes, we are sugar’s bitch.
Plus, culturally, we like to act in tandem. As a species, most of us crave consensus. How many times have you heard “Well, is anyone else getting salad? Okay, then I won’t either.”
And of course you KNOW that person really wants a salad – they just don’t want to be the odd man out, eating at a table of people who aren’t, and being watched by those people; assuming they’re thinking “Look at her eat around the frisé lettuce. She’s making such a fussy little pile of the parts of that salad she won’t eat. What a prima donna. Eat your damned lettuce if you were so hungry for a salad!”
(Paranoia tends to increase in intensity as the event wears on…)
(I also won’t eat the dates in my salad. My college roommate Lynnae always said, with a glint in her eye, “I ALWAYS eat my dates!” as she popped the oversweet fruit into her mouth, and I thought that was so naughty and funny… Alas, I don’t like dates. You know, the fruit kind. As to the other, I make no statement either way. Remember, I’m a lesbian.) (No, wait – that’s not right. I’m hungry.)
WHERE WAS I? I know I had a point.
Right – got it. This is it:
You don’t have to refuse to go to dinner with Friend A because you’re more likely to indulge in the food that you know isn’t terribly good for you. Instead, you have to be Friend B, and be the one to smile “No, thank you” to the waitress. And then your other friend(s) are more likely to say “Yeah, I guess I won’t have dessert either.”
And if they do order a treat, then you can eat off their plate. There are NO calories if it’s someone else’s dessert. Everyone knows that.