Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian
By Allison Adams 02-03-13 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 02-03-13

She was impatiently tapping her foot when I looked up at her and asked, “What do YOU think I should do?”

“Me? What do I think?” she asked.

“Yes. What would YOU do?” 

I used to be able to make snap decisions.  Never look back.  Remain confident with my choice. 
But I’ve lost my mojo.  

I yearn for a little validation.

I needed her counsel.  Her expertise.  After all, she dealt with this kind of thing all the time.

She responded with uncertainty. “Hmmmmm…”

I began to wonder if she was similarly afflicted.

“What’s your opinion of the meatloaf?” I asked.

“It’s very good”, she replied.

“Are you sure?” I quizzed.

“It’s very popular!” she said, reassuringly.

I could feel little beads of perspiration breaking out on my upper lip. 

I was under too much pressure.

“Why don’t you get the others’ orders and come back to me?”

“I have their orders,” she relied, “I’m just waiting on yours.” 

“We’re ALL waiting on you, dear”, mumbled my husband. 

He thinks I’m tedious.

I prefer to think of myself as Highly Indecisive. 

It’s a gift.

“How about the pork?” I probed.  “What do you think about the pork?”

“The roast, or the chop?” she asked.

“Chop?  Oh, my – I didn’t know there was a chop on the menu!”

She reached over the top of the menu, which was the size of a Rand McNally Road Atlas, and into which my nose was buried, and used the nib of her pencil to point to the 5”x7” color photo of the pork chop, garnished in full regalia upon a shiny platter, and centered on the page at which I’d been staring for the past 5 minutes.

“There it is”, she said as the tapped her pencil on the pork portrait.  “It’s a specialty here.”

“It looks delicious!”

She put her pencil to her pad and started to write.

“But I don’t think I’m that hungry”, I admitted.  “What about the shrimp?  How do you feel about the shrimp?” I looked right into her eyes and asked, “Would YOU order the shrimp if YOU were me?”

“You don’t have to marry the entrĂ©e, Allison”, explained my husband.  “You just have to push it around on your plate.”

These days I’ve made a habit of asking perfect strangers for advice about many of my personal selections.  
I recently ran every shopper out of the produce department at the grocery store when I started interviewing them about their opinion on the cantaloupe I was considering putting in my buggy.

“Pardon me.  How do you think this melon compares with that other one over there?”

I try to be polite – and honest.

“Excuse me.  My hearing is shot.  When I thump this melon, does it sound ripe to you?”

I guess if you see me out and I’m headed in your general direction with a melon in my hand (or a menu), you should trust your instinct and turn away and make like a ball bearing on a marble floor.

(I apologize in advance if you ever unfortunate enough to pull behind me in a fast food drive-thru.)

My dining partners were growing weak from hunger, and I could tell by the way she was impatiently tapping her pencil on her order pad that the waitress would appreciate it if I made my selection before her shift ended. 

I knew I needed to pick SOMETHING. 

As I studied the menu one last time, I began to wonder if maybe it was unreasonable for me to ask the waitress to help me decide between the pork roast, or the pork chop. 

Or the meatloaf. 
Or the shrimp. 

I mean – for all I knew, she could be a vegetarian.

“Maybe I’ll just have the dinner salad.” I said.

“Excellent choice!” she exclaimed.  Then she turned on her heels and disappeared into the kitchen before I had a chance to inquire about her opinion of the tanginess of the low-fat balsamic vinaigrette.

I knew she was a vegetarian.