Within a minute of meeting a first date, I know whether I like him. I’ll go on a second date with pretty much anyone who asks for one, but after that I will promptly tell him what I knew before we ordered our second drink on our first date: I don’t think we have the connection I’m looking for. If I do like the guy in the first minute, I’ll cling to the idea of us whether he’s right for me or not (and he never is). When I try to stick with someone who doesn’t immediately intrigue me, I eventually end up running away because I can’t convince myself to keep it going when I’m not entirely invested.
With food, I also know immediately whether I like something and usually stick to the decision. I can tell you I will never like pickles, and I can say without hesitation that I will never crave coconut (unless if I had weird pregnancy cravings or something). When I find something I love, I’m devoted to it forever (goat cheese, truffle, dark chocolate). However, unlike with people, I’ve been able to train myself to eat foods I didn’t originally feel attraction to (yogurt, pudding, plain grilled chicken). If you eat anything enough, I have a feeling you can tolerate any food.
And probably if you convince yourself to be with a person who doesn’t excite you, you can tolerate that as well. But what I’ve found with the foods I’ve forced myself to eat is that I don’t experience any pleasure from eating them. Maybe that’s not a big deal if you’re one of those people who eats to stay alive rather than lives to eat. Maybe you might tell me that’s life–you do things you don’t especially love, you eat healthy things because they’re good for you, and you settle with someone who isn’t quite right because you don’t want to die alone. I admit there’s a degree of comfort in that notion because at least you know what you’re getting into. Every time I open a yogurt container, I know exactly what I’m about to have: a smart breakfast. And I’m okay with settling in that aspect because I know it’s in my best interest, so maybe it would also be in my best interest to settle with someone who doesn’t bring pangs of joy when I think about him. The ones I’ve been falling for lately are sort of like junk food, after all–they’re bad for me, they don’t treat me well, and in the end I wonder why I bothered splurging (though of course, just like junk food, I already know why: they’re delicious). I could probably eventually train myself to like safe, doting guys just like I’ve trained myself to like yogurt. There are worse fates than being with someone who treats you like you deserve to be treated and just perhaps lacks that extra boost of sugar. Right?
Then I tried habanero sauce the other day. Normally, if we’re talking about spicy food? No. Can’t do it. I’ve been trying for years to learn to like it and my body just doesn’t let me. But with a sinus infection and a suggestion that it might also help clear out whatever has been dragging me down and stopping me from running for the past 2 months, I’ll try anything.
It wasn’t as awful as I was anticipating; in fact, it didn’t bother me much at all. I’m sure this was mostly to do with the fact that I couldn’t breathe, and I’m pretty sure when I was able to breathe a bit better 5 minutes later, that was mostly to do with the fact that my sinus medicine was finally kicking in.
Still, it’s possible it was simply a situation where something sharp, something bold, with a kick, was also good for me, and it just hadn’t been the right time to discover it until then.
If I have a choice of which food comparison to hope for in my love life, I’m going with the habanero sauce. Go ahead and put the yogurt away.