September 13, 2008
There are two things you need to know about me before we proceed to today's asking.
1) I am obsessive about food. Not obsessed -- that would imply I sit around at night drawing muffins or dream I've turned into a lucious piece of fois gras that's about to be devoured by an acappella group on tour in Dijon. I am, however, obsessive. What I eat, and when I eat, and whether I eat, matters a great deal to me. The where, how and why are secondary. I take unspeakable pleasure from the little things: watching a pat of butter melt on a skillet in anticipation for the steak it's about to caress, or the taste of a single grain of kosher sea salt. Consequently, I get very specific, and very insistent, cravings.
2) I love a quality cheesesteak.
I woke up this morning hungry. Maybe it was the Maine aire, or the spirit of fall quickening in my bones, or the fact that on the day of the wedding, i.e. yesterday, I skipped breakfast and lunch and supped on three blueberry mohitos, a delish Indian dish and a handful of hors d'oeuvres.
In any case, the official plan was to wake up at 8, head downstairs for the inn's delicious breakfast and then proceed to a farewell wedding brunch. But a few snooze buttons later, it was checkout time and I was still in bed. In a rush of packing and getting ready to leave for brunch, I realized the destination was a 30-minute drive away. Did I mention I was hungry?
Mr. A was in action mode -- carrying suitcases, imputting addresses into the GPS, checking under the bed for socks. I interrupted him with a critical request.
"Can we stop for a sandwich?" I was referring, of course, to the place we'd grabbed a sandwich a few days earlier, a hole in the wall 24-hour convenience shop and gas station in a neighboring town. You'd never guess it, but that place had the best cheesesteak I've had on the east coast. (The western division winner is, and always will be, I.B. Hoagie on Durant Street in Berkeley.)
"I don't think so. The brunch already started, and then we're having lunch with my parents."
"Come on. It's a quick detour."
"Do you really need a sandwich when we're about to eat brunch? And then lunch?"
To be clear, we had back to back brunch and lunch plans with friends and family in town. And I was indeed asking to stop for a sandwich. (See notes 1 and 2 above.) His wasn't really a question, but I answered anyway.
"Come oooon. That place was soooo good. By the time they seat us, and it's just a mile away, and you must be hungry too, and I didn't eat breakfast yesterday, or lunch, and we're going hiking after lunch so I need my energy, just a mile away, and if we don't go I'll never get to go again because let's face it I am never going to come back to this place even though it's beautiful because it's so remote, and it was sooooooooo good, come on!!!"
Okay. So that wasn't exactly an asking anymore. It was more of a "blizzard of words" (to quote Charles Gibson). But I wonder if men have an evolutionary mechanism that lowers their hearing threshold by ten or so decibels when the rate or pitch of their female companion's voice increases by more than five percent. Meaning that I was ranting, and he was admirably still focusing on what he was doing.
As he pulled out of the hotel, I resigned myself to no sandwich. Big loss. I didn't need it. I was just clamoring for it because it was a craving, a selfish whim, when we were about to eat twice and we were running late. Why was I asking for a detour when the right thing to do, the best thing to do, was drive in the opposite direction? And, most harrowing of all, was the possibility that first sandwich was somehow a glitch and the second one would be gross, perhaps made by someone else and burned or missing cheese, and it would deflate the memory of that perfect one?
One cheesesteak later, I was a happy girl.
I asked him why he decided to stop.
"If I didn't, you'd bug me about it for the next year."
And then I realized. I'd won the cheesesteak, which was every bite as good as the first one. But he won the right to tease me about it for the rest of our relationship. Or at least until something better comes up.
Gained: One beloved cheesesteak
Lost: Any claim, real or pretended, that I'm low maintenance