October 22, 2015

DENG | Napkins Can Wait

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By SOPHIA DENG

Two a.m. in my bedroom: I was reading a post that described cold, rich ice cream sandwiched between two warm cookies, melting and oozing out in a sweet, sugary mess. Then I was reminded of tacos and how the plumpest ones spill out all the finger-licking glory as we bite into the tortilla.

Am I hungry? Maybe, just a little ravenous. Oh, the woes of gazing at food posts in the wee hours of the morning. I know you all do this too. But this particular article reminded me of something else too: my former pet peeve of eating messy foods.

I used to hate sinking my teeth into foods just to have their contents fall out. I wanted to eat things as neatly as possible with minimal mess; the less “stuff” that dropped on my plate the better. Gigantic burritos with beans emerging through tears in the tortilla, s’mores with chocolate and marshmallows cascading over the edges and towering burgers with their insides sloppily arranged made me cringe before I even tasted them.

I never thought much about this habit of mine to avoid foods that would create a mess. It didn’t mean much. It was a just simple preference, right?

My pet peeve might have involved messy foods, but this was only a facet of a bigger problem. This was during a time when I was very uptight, and I absolutely needed things to be a certain way. I lived a very controlled life, and if one thing was out of place, it bothered me to no end. Last minute changes exasperated me. I was never on good terms with spontaneity.

I was a bit too structured, a perfectionist, in a way that frightened me a little. I never liked that part of me; it was something I wished I could kick out of my life for good. I wasn’t living. I was being too limiting on myself when all I should have done was lay back and relax more.

I’ve changed since then. I wasn’t really aware of that pet peeve until I became quite fond of seeing chunks of steak and cheese ooze out of my quesadillas as I scarfed them down. And this isn’t the only thing that’s changed. I care less about what people think. I don’t mind if I get sauce on my arms or if I look weird trying to get the spinach out of my teeth. I’ll pipe up during random moments, saying the oddest things, whether my friends take it or leave it. I make the most unlikely connections between things in my life, such as messy eating and an over-controlling personality, something I feared doing before because I thought people would judge me for it.

I’m not saying people who hate messy foods are controlling. It’s just something I noticed about myself. But the next time you enjoy a burrito that’s bursting at the edges, dig in and don’t worry about the napkins until later.

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