I cling to the delusion that I’m a relatively intelligent human being.
It only took me one try to learn that you don’t guide the plug into the socket by gripping the prongs with your thumb and forefinger. I’m generally a pretty quick study that way. When it hurts, I figure I must be doing something wrong.
But I recently came to a realization that shook the very core of my confidence: I’m a very slow learner when it comes to eating.
Not that I don’t know how to eat. Far from it. I’m an eating prodigy.
My problem is I don’t know when to stop.
For some reason, I lack the judgement I’m able to exercise in all other areas of my life. I apply the “if it hurts, stop” rule with a high degree of success until it comes to food. Then the rule comes out looking more like, “if it hurts, keep eating until it really hurts, then stop for a while and drink beer until you can eat again”.
I prefer to call this “gusto”, which is a nicer way to say “stupidity”.
After several decades of research and analysis, I’ve concluded my friends are to blame.
It can’t be the beer impairing my judgement, because I’m capable of hurting myself with or without it, though the whole effort is more enjoyable in the presence of alcohol.
It can’t be me, because I don’t eat like that when I’m at home. I’ve had people come up to me at a party and say, “Wow, I wish I could eat like you and still stay that slim.” To which I respond, “Don’t bother wishing. I don’t even eat like me.”
This phenomenon was hammered home a few weeks ago at a friend’s birthday party. We were sitting around the table eating take-out Chinese and shooting the breeze until suddenly I glanced at the completely cleared table and asked, “Am I the only one still eating?”
And everybody laughed and said, “Well, duh.”
I was in pain. I had been comfortably full when I took that last helping, and I knew I didn’t need to eat more. I ate it anyway. Then I ate brownies and birthday cake. Then I propped myself in a chair and held my stomach and groaned. Then I drank some more beer. If we’d stayed any later, I’d have been back into the snacks.
Why do I do it?
It’s not peer pressure. Nobody says, “Hey, I bet you can’t eat this.” In the first place, they’re mature human beings and I’d like to think we’re all a little past the point of silly challenges. In the second place, they know they’d lose the bet.
But that’s not the point.
I’ve got nothing to prove, and even if I did, I’d be embarrassed to prove it with sophomoric excesses.
So I can only conclude it’s some sort of hive-mind telepathy by which I absorb and respond to everyone else’s appetites. I’m not eating for me; I’m eating for everybody in the room. Ergo, it’s not my fault.
Maybe I’ll wear a tinfoil hat to the next party. Think that’ll fix the problem?