The Perils of Fast Food Dating: Take The Time to Enjoy The Meal

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by Stephanie J. Gates

On a November day that whispered winter was around the corner, I detoured on my way home from work, stopping to engage in two of my favorite past times: reading and eating. First stop: Borders Books, then on to Pizza Capri. Usually in a hurry to get to the next thing on my never-ending-to-do-list, I made a conscious choice to sit down and simply indulge.

The Pizza Capri menu boasts freshly cooked foods, and I thought something fresh would do me good. So, I took a deep breath and allowed myself to absorb the space around me. Snippets of Spanish drifted from the kitchen merging with the jazz music—

serving as a backdrop for conversations among patrons. I pondered the words, Man does not live by bread alone, on the wall as I took a piece of bread and dipped it into the confetti looking olive oil—Parmesan cheese concoction on my plate. I had a cup of potato soup to knock off the chill. As the music massaged my ears, and I twirled the tequila lime pasta and chicken on my fork, a burst of sweetness from the red and green peppers exploded on my tongue and I was reminded of what it means to enjoy a meal.

On the way home I thought about the bad learned habits that come with always hurrying, and our societal obsession of wanting everything in a New York Minute, it’s no wonder that we operate the way that we do. As a single woman, it occurred to me that some of us date the way we dine, and yet we fail to make the connection between satiation and satisfaction. It’s no wonder we still think we’re hungry.

Fast food dating is what I think far too many of us are doing. We frequent the same restaurants because of convenience and familiarity. Even though we know what’s on the menu, we always return hoping that it will be different this time. If you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all. Not much changes. There’s a formula to be followed that requires minimal effort, no originality or creativity. Sometimes they get it right, a lot of times they don’t and then we bitch about the food and the service, forgetting that fast-food is a quick fix and the end result is the same: we’re not really satisfied with what we got. We settled. Again.

It’s easy to see why we believe we need to continue our bad dining habits. When titles like Bitch is the New Black—a memoir on being 30 something and single, Don’t Blame it on Rio: The Real Deal Behind Why Men go to Brazil for Sex, Why Black Men Love White Women: Going Beyond Sexual Politics to the Heart of the Matter, and Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man and the sequel written by a three-time married comedian doling out advice on how to get and keep a man, competing for space on the bookshelves of our minds, it’s no wonder we think we’re starving even if we’re not.

Perception is everything and it’s looking pretty bleak for Black women. Though the number of women living without a spouse is slightly more than half, the number of single Black women is at 70 percent. And everybody’s feeding the frenzy. “There’s Black Marriage Negotiations,” the animated supposedly satirical look at why so many Black women are single on You Tube with ½ million hits, Raheem DeVaughn grim single, Statistic and some rapper, Slim Thug who got his 15 minutes of fame in an interview on by telling Black women to lower our standards. But before we settle for supersizing the same old thing, we might seriously need to consider making some dietary changes.

For some, we might need a fast food fast. Just go cold turkey. Others might just need to partake of fast food in moderation. We know what we can and cannot handle. Each woman needs to decide for herself. We don’t have to eat it just because it’s on the menu. And when we do decide to order it anyway, we need to stop pretending like it’s real and accept that is a temporary substitute for what we really want.

What we really need to do is expand our options. Why not find other ways to nourish ourselves or simply learn to enjoy a variety of dining experiences? And once we’ve moved on from fast-food and chain restaurants, and settled into the experience of fine dining, we should take our time and enjoy the meal in its entirety by absorbing the ambiance, and savoring the experience. There’s no need to rush. It’s okay to enjoy each course in its entirety before moving on to the next one.

Life is smorgasbord of delectable delights. Bon appétit.


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