Hwo do you make people (your co-workers f'instance) understand that you do not want now nor will you ever want to eat with them, shy of telling them all the truth which will set you free but which will first give them even more ammunition to fire you with?
I'm peculiar in that I won't sit down to eat with people I don't trust. There's something very personal, very genuine and deep about sharing a meal with someone, and for me to simply _think_ about breaking bread and salt with someone I cannot trust or do not know or like is utterly abhorrent to me. If I eat a meal in a public place with you it means that you're far above the norm in my esteem. If I invite you to eat at my table then rest assured that I trust you deeply, and if I make you something to eat with my own two rather unskilled hands then count yourself amongst a very rare company indeed.
Oh. Before someone points it out, I know full well that I've attended group meals and eaten in nice dining establishments with members of my own extended family whom I don't really like, but there's a difference there. Family is a pretty powerful trump card. No, what I'm talking about here is close proximity dining; sitting around a conference table in the office with the woman who not even a week ago told me "...it's either you or me." Today I was repeatedly plied with offers of Chinese food and the opportunity to sit and dine with the entire office staff, most of whom I simply work with, some of whom I've come to actively dislike and one whom I'd happily see pushed under a speeding beer truck. NOT people I'd ever want to share something as personal as a meal with.
I've spent most of the past two decades turning down offers to eat with fellow employees, and all of my past three years at this office turning down these people or people very much like them. How many ways can one say "No" without leaping up and shouting "Look you stupid motherfuckers, I'd not eat with you if you were serving ambrosia and nectar served on the breasts and bellies of three dozen of the most exquisite and nubile redheads around! I'd not piss in your mouth if your teeth were on fire, why would I want to sit and partake of food with you?"
Maybe that's what I need to try next.
Or, I could just go into a long and detailed explanation of my bowel processes when I eat in a stressful, unfriendly, nay, even hostile environment. That ought to put them off their feed.
While we're on the subject of food and the office environment, let me mention that we've got a borrowed office manager in from New Mexico to help catch up some glaring failures that the State might shut the office down over. The other day the talk around the women-folk in the office (read: everyone but me) was concerning diets, specifically the new/old diet which involves drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar three times a day as an appetite suppressant.
I know. I had to ask again just to make sure I heard it right. Apple. Cider. VINEGAR. Drinking the stuff. Diet. Vinegar.
Now the chief complaint from the current Vinegar Diet-ing nurse and the marketer who had apparently used this method before was a "burning sensation in your stomach that lasts a couple of hours." Now, call me foolish but I'd think that a burning sensation in the stomach for two hours after imbibing vinegar would be a pretty strong negative indicator. ("Hey, if it burns for two hours then maybe your body is trying to tell you that you SHOULDN'T BE EATING IT!")
It was right around this point in the conversation that our on-loan office manager (who is a tiny waif of a woman, perhaps all of 80 pounds soaked in vinegar) appeared in the doorway, setting off a cacophany of catcalls and derisive groans concerning her figure. To which said waif mentioned that she was on a special "Christian diet" and that it was really doing well for her.
I had to step away.
A Christan diet. What in the name of Mother Mary's skid-marked panties is a "Christan diet?" Are you only allowed to eat unleavened bread and wild locusts? Can you lose weight on a diet that consists solely of manna? Loaves and fishes, all you can eat?
A Christian diet. So many questions! Is this diet okayed by Papal Decree? Did Jeebus give Moses the Ten Commandments and the Guide To Fast, Easy Weight Loss? What did Martin Luther have to say about the Christian Diet when he nailed his notes to the door, and was he a particularly chubby fellow?
A Christian diet. What, does she eat only Christians? Do you have to baptise your dinner? Did the Roman emperors know something we don't about weight loss, and is that why lions are so svelt? Do certain kinds of Christians taste different from others? Are Episcopals, like the joke goes, simply Catholic Light?
"Hey Jim, you gotta try some of these Episcopals! Same great Catholic taste but half the calories and none of the guilt!"
How do you prepare Christians? Do you oven bake them? That didn't work so well for Shadrack, Meshack and Abendigo. Boiling them in oil seems to work, just ask Torquemada but is deep-fat frying really that healthy? Do grilled Mormons taste better than a shishkabob of Greek Orthodox? Do Italian Christians taste better with olive oil? What sort of wine does one serve with long pork? How heart-healthy is a Franciscan with a side order of Jesuit fries and what sort of Weight Watcher's points is that?
I have a question about your menu, Gawd!
post scriptum: Be sure and listen this Sunday to the one, the only, the Sunday Vagapocalypse, hosted this week by none other than our own Vulgar Wizard who, with a nice side of carrots and peas can serve a family of six. Me, I'll be out of the state taste-testing various orthodoxies.