So, I just drank a bowl of gravy

By | January 9, 2009

One of the awesome perks of not actively hating my body/worrying-about-being-a-bad-fattie anymore is that I get to eat whatever the eff I want in the university cafeteria. During my undergrad, I was concerned about being labeled as one of THOSE FATTIES and so I always forced myself to eat the “healthy choice” option. The “healthy choice” was invariably some sort of “veggie stew” that bore a closer resemblence to soylent green than any actual cooked greens I’ve ever encountered. I’m not sure what soylent green tastes like, but I’m pretty sure it’s a damn sight more appetizing than “healthy choice veggie stew.” But I digress.

The one thing the cafeteria does passably well is french fries. I mean, I’m hardly a foodie but I’ve worked in fast food and eaten at enough greasy spoons and truck stops to know that barring old old oil or rotten potatoes even the most diviest of dives tend to do a decent fry, and usually a better-than-decent gravy. So now when I’m too rushed to pack a lunch or too gauche to charm an off-campus lunch date, I sit in the cafeteria with a big old steaming tray of spuds’n sauce. And I unapologetically bask in every finger-lickin’ moment. Or I try to. Ocassionally, on days like to day, my enjoyment threatens to be comprised.

I wound up sitting next to a table of first-maybe-second year education students. (I know this because I started out in ed before switching majors and I recognized the special shock collars they make you wear*). They were loudly discussing a lesson plan for anti-bullying when the conversation narrowed–perhaps predictably for this the super body-hating month of January–towards self-bullying in the form of food policing diet talk.

“This is the last fries and gravy I will eat ever eat” moaned one student, gesturing to what I guess was supposed to be her newly-expanded stomach.

“I promised myself that i won’t drink any beer until summer” said another student patting his own stomach in commisseration.

“I ate a giant meal EVERY DAY over the holidays” the student on his right hung her head in shame. “SOMETIMES TWO. And then sometimes PIZZA after that! I’m so gross!”

Another student started talking about some sort of low-carb beer and someone else talked brought up Nutrislim and at that point I tuned out for a second because I’d felt myself starting to nod off. (I have diet-talk triggered narcolepsy. Ten more seconds and my face would have been swimming in my plate).

Then they got up to leave. Glancing up at their unnecessarily miserable/guilty faces I felt compelled to do something. So I locked eyes with the girl who’d sworn off gravy FOR LIFE, reached for my gravy–today they’d run out of the little container they normally put the side of gravy in, so they poured my gravy in a soup bowl–announced “MMMMM GRAVY”, tilted my head back, tipped that fucker to my lips and proceeded to drain it. I then gave my mouth a hearty wipe and let out a satisfied “AHHHH.” And she, and several others looked stunned, and a few of them laughed as they walked away. Me, I’m still laughing. (Yep. At my own joke. I’m classy like that).

Now it’s possible that No Gravy Ever Again Girl doesn’t study theatre or politics or german culture (I mean there was only two of us in the faculty at the time I graduated) and so didn’t recognize my gravy drinking as the uh, pre-meditated-and-flawlessly-orchestrated-Brechtian-act-of-political-street theatre-meant-to-signal-both-the-absurdity-and-constructedness-of-diet-culture that it so totally and… obviously was. But even if it didn’t register as bizarre, random, and possibly ironic fattie performance art, I like to think the act itself could be effective even without context. That maybe my guzzling gravy–beyond triggering responses of “well, that’s certainly inadvisable”– can’t help but trigger a that’s so-absurd-it-must-be-deliberate-so-why? train of thought.

Best case scenario, I make a dent in the plaster of that student’s WALL OF DIET. The absurdity of my ACTUALLY DRINKING GRAVY tips her off to the absurdity of her never ever enjoying gravy again. Okay-case scenario maybe next time she thinks of fries of gravy she won’t think “god, look at my hideous thighs” but will laugh and think “god wasn’t it crazy when that weird but-also-totally-gorgeous-and-stylish fattie actually drank a bowl of it in the cafeteria.” It’s easy to imagine a worst-case scenario where my antics are used for the purposes of evil thinspo but I reject that potential reality and substitute it with the aforementioned options. Yeah I’m a dreamer, but–evidently– I’ll drink to that.

*I kid. They don’t actually shock you when should you try to exit the premises. That would be cruel. They use them to keep your heads from bobbing during pointless lectures about how to use power point.

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