Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ordering Chinese Food / Umbrella Use

There was one event that fried my brain for a few seconds, and that was ordering dinner. We went out to Chinese food, and I was going to have my all-time favorite dish, ORANGE FLAVORED BEEF. To me there is nothing like it. She doesn't eat red meat. When ordering, she wanted the Moo Goo Gai Pan, a dish that I find to be absolutely devoid of taste, gooey, and boring.

Immediately my brain fried because I felt a feeling of discomfort in ordering my favorite dish, "red meat", in front of her. Second, this restaurant I took her to was my all-time favorite kosher restaurant in the world, and I have not been there since April of 2003 or 2004. Not realizing this was on my mind, I drove there with the intent to order that dish.

When we got there I sadly opened the menu looking for some tasteless vegetarian dish that would have cost just as much but would have tasted like cooked rubber. Was this to be my future? Is this what it means to bend to your partner's desires? I know this is a sad entry, and the result was that there was a delicious meal because when she mentioned that she found nothing offensive about eating chicken, I found and ordered the orange flavored chicken that was on the menu, which was almost as good [but between you and me not quite as good] as the beef would have been. Even then, she expressed her disinterest in fried foods in general, nevertheless I felt that it would show in my mood if I ordered something tasteless and so I stayed with my less-favored alternative, the chicken. I wasn't disturbed by her blunt opinions regarding foods because she wasn't telling me what to order; I was just interpreting her words as such. I knew in my heart that if she knew how attached I was to that dish, that she would insist that I ate the beef. However, I was satisfied to choose the chicken, a healthier, yet still sugar-laden alternative.

I felt that this could be a lesson, namely that just as there should be a pleasure in religion when someone nullifies their desires to serve their Creator, so too a refined person should be able to find pleasure in nullifying their desires to serve their partner.

I am certainly not that refined and so I nevertheless ordered the dish I wanted, but I did show a slight resemblance to this concept earlier in the day. It was raining pretty heavily and she wanted to open the umbrella. Being the kind person she was (is), she was holding it over both of our heads so that I wouldn't get soaked. In my mind, I seem to remember a Jewish law that said that a man and woman shouldn't go under the same tent (Chupah, in Hebrew) in private with other witnesses until they are married. As silly and remedial as this sounds, I didn't remember if an umbrella can be considered this kind of secluded covering.

So without confronting her with some weird law, I offered to hold the umbrella, and since she had a hood on her cartigan (jacket), she didn't notice that I was holding it over her head only and that I was getting soaked. She also didn't notice that my arm really was hurting me from holding it at that angle. But I felt that it was the right thing to do. Plus, I felt a little bit like the king bee that serves his queen bee. For me it was a quiet romantic gesture that gave me pleasure. So while I still have much to learn when it comes to relationships, it felt good that at least I was able to do something quietly gallant.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand. She's the vegetarian, not you. I don't think she would take offense at you ordering meat. Don't drive yourself nuts. Be normal and be yourself. Unless you're a tzaddik of great magnitude, you will not be happy living the rest of your life denying yourself your favorite foods. And you don't even know that's what she wanted; you're guessing too much (although that's a symptom of a good sign, I guess).


Daphnewood said...

I'm confused. Did you eat the beef or not? And how you associated sharing an umbrella as cohabitation is beyond me. However, the image you described made me laugh. I wish I could have seen you walking in the rain, developing your biceps and getting wet! And wearing a maroon sweater! So, will you try sky blue next?

Zoe Strickman said...

I actually had fun writing this entry because it reflected some of my inner thoughts and reactions to the night's activities.

In the end, I ordered the orange chicken which didn't taste as good as the beef would have. I just didn't want to risk grossing her out.

My rabbi also thought my ideas about the umbrella and cohabitation were equally funny. With a smile, he told me that I misunderstood the law and applied it to something that nothing to do with the seclusion rule. My mistake. I thought the picture above accurately reflected how we probably looked. I got soaked!

Rowan said...

I just wanted to offer my two (non)-cents! I think it would have been perfectly acceptable to have ordered the beef (which incidentally is my favourite too, so I know why you would have been hankering for it!). It would have been ok I think especially since you were eating at a restaurant and not cooking this meal. This way, you are not suggesting that this is how you expect your home/kitchen to be run, but that you "occassionally" enjoy some vice or another as a treat. I think you're entitled and I don't think (if you asked her honestly) she'd mind that you choose to eat red meat....I don't like steak or roast beef, so my husband enjoys those dishes when we eat out on occassion.