Baby Steps

    Baby Steps
    Baby Steps
    “Digital Bathroom Scale…” © saje.

    As I sat there glancing back and forth from the menu to the rounded-over basket of fluffy yeast rolls, the decision was clear. I wanted the biggest, juiciest ribeye I could imagine, loaded baked potato with plenty of sour cream, and breaded okra deep-fried to a perfectly crisp texture. I could feel the saliva pooling in my mouth; and I knew the slightest parting of my lips would cause it to escape, trickling down my chin and onto my blouse. I would then attempt to wipe the spit off my face with the back of my hand, thereby attracting the attention of my family; so, I gulped it down and quickly flipped the menu to the healthier — and much less desirable — chicken section.

    I was shocked at how many ways chicken could be prepared, but I had to be careful. The beautifully colored photos of the entrees were eye-catching, and my mouth began to water again at the sight of the breaded chicken tenders and the country-fried chicken. Breading was a combination of many ingredients, depending on the chef; but white flour was usually the main one. The uncooked meat of choice would be rolled around in the flour concoction and then fried in some type of fat — usually vegetable oil — which was a no-no for someone seeking a slimmer frame.

    Everyone else at the table had already decided their orders, and they were waiting for me. I was gritting my teeth and cursing the photos of the fried foods in all their delectable goodness, when I finally made a choice. I would have the grilled, lemon-herb chicken with rice. It wasn’t even close to my first choice — more like number ten or twelve on my list — but it looked good for someone who used to hide in the shower with a Little Debbie and a pint of ice cream with no spoon.

    While waiting for my meal to arrive, I considered having one of those mouthwatering yeast rolls. I knew it was bad for me; but I had been very obedient towards the rules of my diet lately, and I wanted a yeast roll. There were only a couple left, as my family had already devoured the majority. Of course, the remaining ones were no longer beautiful and fluffy, but deflated and lifeless — reminiscent of my self-esteem. I had already sacrificed the steak and sour cream; I was having the roll. Even in its critical condition and considering I had refrained from eating bread for two straight weeks, the yeast roll was the most glorious thing at that moment. For a fraction of a second, everyone else in the room melted away, and it was just me and my yeast roll. Then, the guilt followed. I shouldn’t have eaten it.

    Once I finished kicking myself, the waitress delivered our meals. My eyes wandered around the table in awe at the sight of my family’s choices. There were plates heaping with fried foods at every corner: breaded chicken tenders with golden-brown, crinkle-cut French fries; country-fried chicken with mashed potatoes smothered in a creamy, white gravy; pot roast swimming in an endless sea of brown sauce; and last, but not least, the biggest, juiciest ribeye in the universe with a loaded baked potato and perfectly crisp, breaded okra. I stared at him with utter hatred as he sliced into the ribeye with his knife, allowing the juices to spill onto his plate. I envisioned burning a hole straight through his skull with my eyes when he looked up at me. I exhaled a heavy sigh, gave him a sarcastic grin, and peered down into the hell of my own plate.

    Surprisingly, the chicken and rice looked exactly like the photo in the menu, and the chicken was larger than I expected. I picked up my knife and fork, said a silent prayer of thanks and patience, and sliced into the meat. Juices spilled onto my plate as well, but they weren’t the same. I looked over at his plate again. His okra was floating in a shimmering pool of pink, and I had to fight the urge to kick him in the shin. More juices spilled onto my plate with every slice until the rice was drowning in a cesspool of chicken slime. I wanted nothing more than to fling the chicken breast across the restaurant; but, with my luck, it would’ve smacked another customer in the face before landing with a plop in their bowl of soup.

    What should have been a pleasant dinner with family, was a nightmare for me. I loved food so much. I wanted to be able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Watching my family enjoy all the foods I loved while choosing a healthier option for myself, was a private hell; but I considered it a tremendous accomplishment.

    Copyright © 2019-2024 Irene Bratton

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