In this Southern North American region, it is expected of the women to make impassioned New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and look younger. Some of us are sincere in our resolve, others make the proper noises because it is expected of them. Some of us make a plan of action, others just go buy a low-fat-low-carb-low-flavor cookbook and leave it out for people to notice. Society has trained us to believe we must behave so.
Then, I see on TV that Valerie Bertinelli has lost nearly all of her extra forty pounds (and she looks marvelous, too!), since she has done it already she won’t have to resolve to do it next year! She gets weepy and flaps her hand, and tells us all to sign up. I am happy for Valerie, because she’s happy enough to get teary-eyed and hand-flappy. I’m happy that she lost unwanted weight. Truthfully, though, ah…she really doesn’t look all that different. To me.
I do not intend to lose weight. I’ve tried, with varying degrees of commitment, to be rid of the fifty pounds that have been dogging me for the last six years. I have learned that the weight does not wish to be lost, and all the New Year’s promises to self that self will work out and eat spinach every day simply don’t work. My body is steadfastly determined to remain prepared for a famine, and all the salads and glasses of water won’t change that.
I also have a deep and abiding love affair with food. I absolutely love to eat, eat many and varied things, at all times of day. My latest discovery (I’d heard of them but didn’t know how to go about making them) are fish tacos. Oh dear Gussie. I used talapia, and a fresh lemony cabbage slaw and a horseradishy sauce….mmm. I had been told by people as far away as San Diego that fish tacos were a wonder, and yet I was dubious. No longer.
I also love Thai food, with it’s peppers and peanuts and vinegary sauces, and Ethiopean cuisine with its heat and nutty breads, a delicious rare steak with an Argentinean chimmichurri sauce, the list goes on. How on Earth am I to keep the required Southern White Lady resolution to lose weight if people keep introducing me to the pleasures of diverse cuisine?
So, I have decided to break with custom and forget the weight issue. I’m going to eat what I like, when I want, and however much I want. Begone guilt, pass me a doughnut. Instead, I am resolving something else.
When I looked back over the past years, I realized that the exterior of our selves isn’t what’s interesting. Not to me, anyway. I’ve never heard someone say “Oh! She’s so pretty, let’s ask her along to lunch!” No. More likely they’ll say “She’s so interesting!” (or funny, or sweet). So, I have determined to make people like me. I want to be the kind of person that makes others feel good about themselves, that others will want to have along.
I am resolving to control the look on my face. I have been told by spouse and children that I have the ability to drill small holes through the skulls of witless shoppers (who stop in the middle of the aisle, blocking all traffic), causing them to apologize uncontrollably. I am able to make grown men feel like they’ve been smacked with a ruler by Sister Mary Margaret, and make teenage boys feel emasculated. It’s not a concious thing that I do. But, when someone does something stupid I feel compelled to stare at them. It’s not a good way to win friends. I am now resolving to wear a sweet countenance, unless someone does something…you know…nuclear powered stupid.
Some of the people my husband works with (I’m a housewife, so the people I work with all have four legs or are teenagers) are the type who work seventy-eighty hours a week, or more. They do it so they can provide a nice lifestyle for their families.
I wonder, however, which is better, working eighty hours a week so your kid can have three game systems and an in-ground pool, or working fifty hours a week so your kids see you at the school play, eat supper with you at night, and can actually pick your face out of a crowd? There’s a saying “No one ever said on their deathbed: ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’ ” I wonder how many people will resolve to work a little less and play a little more this year.
I wonder if it would hurt a kid to grow up living in a less-than-grand house, having to make up his own games instead of relying on Nintendo to do it for him (or her). I don’t have to worry about working eighty hour weeks, I do that already, but I’m at home and the kids ARE my job. However, I resolve to teach at least one of my kids the value of imagination. If he wants to go in the backyard and dig a hole to China, I’ll let him. If I buy him a new toy it will be something to do with building. If he wants cookies, I’ll teach him how to make them himself. He’s eight, and I was eight when I made my first cookie.
And, I resolve to cook a completely new recipe for my family once a week, extra poundage or no extra poundage.