A Slice of Life, or Two

It’s my lunch break and I’m at a grocery store down the street from my workplace. I often walk here because they sell pizza by the slice. I’m sitting in the dining area, chowing down and reading a book I brought along, when I hear someone say my name. I look up and see an old friend I haven’t talked to in months.

She totes her bag of groceries over to my table and joins me for a brief visit. “I really like their pizza here, too,” she says, gesturing to the what’s left of mine. “And their slices are so big, I can make two meals from it. I eat half here and then take the other half home for dinner.”

I force a nervous chuckle, hoping it sounds like an “of course” kind of laugh. I’m suddenly glad she didn’t show up earlier, suddenly glad I already finished off every last crumb of evidence that there was another slice of pizza before this one. As far as my friend knows, the half-piece in front of me is from my first (only) slice.

We chit chat for a few minutes as I self-consciously nibble at my food. I leave a little of the crust. Maybe leaving three crust bites will mark me as a not-glutton.

I tend to be very enthusiastic about eating. I was raised by parents who grew up during the Great Depression. While they had more money than their parents did, that wasn’t saying a whole lot. We still experienced tight times as a family, with six kids to feed. “Yay, food!” was the attitude in our household. Food was not something to be wasted, or worse — disdained.

Once I left home and lived in a college dorm, with people from different economic classes, I discovered the phenomenon of the woman who pretends she doesn’t like to eat. It boggled my mind that some folks, women especially, thought they had to maintain an image of being able to exist on air. It was also the first time I noticed myself being judged for liking my food too much. I learned to keep my enthusiasm for tasty calories under wraps a little.

My friend at the store is one of the least judgy people I know. She probably really does feel full after half a slice of pizza. Different metabolisms, etc. I’m 99% certain she’s speaking strictly about herself and not judging my eating habits. I don’t think she’d think less of me if I ate that last little bit of crust.

Still, I wonder about the possibility of discreetly wrapping it in a napkin and stashing it in my purse for later. Can I do it without her noticing? Probably not, and it’s a stupid idea anyway. With a wistful glance, I toss the remnants into the trash. I’m not even sure why I think I have to do so instead of eating every bit, like I want to. I only know I’m destined to overthink it for the next week or two, until I perplex myself with some other, different behavior and let that edge out my pizza crust ruminations.

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