I am hands down the worst person to take on a date. Not only am I morally opposed to chain restaurants and establishments under a 99% health rating, but I require a menu diverse enough to accommodate my dietary restriction du jour. It’s no secret that I’m picky. But — a true rationalizer through and through — I believe that I am picky in a good way. Picky in a way that prevents me or any of my loved ones from eating at questionable restaurants or, God forbid, at a Cheesecake Factory.
If you knew me as a child, my current state of judginess would shock you. I grew up with a particular fondness for bologna and my favorite restaurant (using the term a little loosely here) was Taco Bell. Yes, Taco Bell. “Two soft chicken tacos no tomatoes” was a phrase heard all-too often in my household. At one point it was even my birthday dinner of choice.
So what happened, you ask? When did I turn from a Taco Bell lovin’ gal to a completely unqualified food critic? The first–and certainly most memorable turning point–happened when a girl at elementary school carpool told me that Taco Bell meat was actually dog food (an early whistle blower, if you ask me). As this girl had more LTD2 outfits than I had pet rats, I considered her an authority on all things important, and so I began to more thoroughly inspect my food for signs of foreign elements, including–but certainly not limited to–kibble. I began to question ingredients, food preparation and sanitary guidelines, and I no longer yearned for my favorite breakfast: the Hampton Inn continental buffet.
The red flags followed me well into my young adult life (the Mad Cow scare of the early 2000s, a live butterfly in my sister’s pre-packaged salad, Food, Inc., etc.), all culminating in one completely life-altering moment that set me over the edge: my first job as a server. I’ll spare the details, but it was at that moment I realized that I was truly alone in this world. No one shared my steadfast commitment to frequent and vigorous hand-washing, and no one understood the importance of cleaning lemons.
I should also note that at some point between my Taco Bell days and now, I became a vegetarian of sorts. I say, “of sorts” because I’m actually a pescetarian, but that just sounds way too pretentious. Now, I have nothing against meat eaters. Clearly, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of meat. And dog food, it would seem. And if a pepperoni were to sneak its way into my mouth, I wouldn’t throw a fit. It’s happened before. And–considering I once broke a tooth while demolishing a slice of Goodfellas– it will probably happen again.
But here’s the problem (yes, there’s more). Without painting too vile a picture, I can say that my digestive system is something akin to Mel Gibson –unstable and inflammatory. It’s not a new issue — I once went to the ER with a suspected case of appendicitis, only to come home with a formal diagnosis of gas. But since college, I’ve been plagued with an array of stomach pains and problems that have truly infringed on my quality of life, most notably on my favorite weekend pastime, Quesadilla Sunday. My doctor diagnosed me with IBS so, I kid you not, my chart now reads, “Anxiety, asthma, IBS” (I’m a catch, to be sure).
A few months ago, I decided it was time to do something about digestive misgivings. And–with at least one Pure Barre class under my belt–I felt I was ready to go full-on aristocrat and diagnose myself with gluten intolerance. Now, I realize that unless you’re a 40-something-year old white woman, you’re thinking that “gluten intolerance” is totally BS. And you’re probably right. But can you blame me if I want to have a backhand like Djokovic? Or abs like Bill Clinton? Or, at the very least, the ability to enjoy an afternoon without writhing in pain?
If you’re keeping count of my confessions, you’ll now know me to be a germaphobe, vegetarian, gluten-free* date with incredibly high-standards. To say that I am “delicate” is an understatement, as my frailty extends to all aspects of my life. Particularly traveling. Perhaps one day I’ll blog about how difficult it is to take me on a car trip. Or on a vacation, for that matter. But as I’ve now revealed my somewhat embarrassing health record, I think I’ll leave my soul bearing at this for the time being.
*After months of living on hard cider and overpriced ginger beer, I decided my love for beer (and pizza, when I’ve had too many beers) outweighed my desire to live up to a Gwyneth-like standard of gluten freedom. So I’m now drinking beer (and eating pizza, when I’ve had too many beers). It’s all very scientific. I wouldn’t expect you to understand.