Wednesday, July 2, 2008

When Miss Manners bans your ass, you know you're in trouble.

This letter in today's Miss Manners column was so chucklelicious I knew the second I read it there was no way I couldn't put fingers to keyboard. It's rare I come across something that puts a skip in my step--actually, not just a skip, but a full-metal skip, hop, and a half-twirl in this case because I get what the letter writer is trying to say, but hoo boy, it's just so...dammit, it's downright loopy. It's like the first sentence got my arm up in the air to give the writer an imaginary high-five, but as I continued on, my arm slowly fell back to my side with every subsequent bizarro conceit. Basically, the letter is a textual LOLcat of "UR doing it wrong".

I have to break it down because it's just that yummy.

Dieting in public is a serious etiquette problem in a society that has made saints of women who wear a size 2. Okay, all right, I'm with you. I mean, I can't quite tie it to an etiquette violation, per se, since the "if you're not dieting, it is YOU who is the ball-licker" attitude is so widespread that it's perfectly acceptable and considered quite normal to spend a dinner out with friends talking about all the food you aren't going to eat. While certainly the pressure is most high on women to adhere to an unattainable perfection, it's getting harder and harder for men to dodge the bullet, so dropping it all on women is fairly douchey. I also think "saints" is something of a push. The sainthood is temporary -- just ask anyone who's lost weight and gained it back and then some.

It is rude and offensive for a person to attend a joyous food-related outing and spoil the trip by ordering "a small salad." mean, salads are yummy, you know. Sometimes you feel like a nut (a steak) and sometimes you don't (a small salad).

Public dieting casts a pall of misery over any such occasion. Actually, let's shorten that a bit to simply dieting casts a pall of misery.

This is where the train completely derails in a massive fashion (and had me rolling):

If the dieter wants a diet soda, she should ask for it quietly, as though requesting something with which to take medication and have it poured into a glass to ensure that the nature of the drink is not obvious.

*whispers to waiter* "May I have a...:: narrows eyes and checks the perimeter :: diet pop, please?" I mean, seriously. Believe me, it makes my asshole close up when I hear or read things like "I ran five miles in 90-degree heat while wearing a sweatsuit in order to lose that last half a pound" or "I was SO BAD because I had three cookies" or "I can never eat _____ again!!!!!" But to get bent over someone ordering a diet pop? This person would clout me about the ears because 99.999 percent of the time, I'm only drinking diet pop because I Undoubtedly, I started fueling myself on it when I was 13 or 14 in some attempt to lose weight, but now, I like the taste of the shit. Every so often, I get a jones for a full-metal pop (or, in the case of Flesor's Candy Kitchen in Tuscola, Illinois, an old-school cherry Coke made with soda water and syrup and OH MY GOD IT IS AWESOME). Yes, many fatties drink the diet beverages as much as the dieting dieters of Dietonia do, so do have the decency to shut it.

If a person is on a super-restricted diet that requires she eat abnormally, she needs to stay home, instead of making everyone miserable.

Hear that, you diabetics/keepin' Kosher/observant Muslims/vegetarians?? STAY. THE EFF. HOME. Your insistence on eating abnormally is a BUZZKILL and making all of us MISERABLE. I'm so MISERABLE THAT I AM LEANING ON THE CAPSLOCK KEY WITH ALL MY MIGHT TO EXPRESS MY MISERY AT YOUR ABNORMAL NOT-EATING-OF-PORK-AND-WHATNOT DIETS.

Dieting is not something I do anymore. I don't cheerlead when people I know and often love (if they haven't crossed me) do on a frequent basis. They know that I am not the person who is going to rub their butts with praise when they've lost X amount of pounds. They also know that if we're out to breakfast/lunch/dinner and they start going on and on about what they "can" and "can't" eat or start the air-raid-siren whine about "feeling fat", they're going to get the John Belushi eyebrow of "Really?" from me. But the nature of the beast is that unless you're very lucky and you're at a table with like-minded FAers or you're with people who don't feel it necessary to inform the universe constantly that THEY ARE WATCHING THEIR FIGURES, you're going to be participating in social eating rituals with someone who is actively dieting--probably multiple people, in fact. And the odds are quite high that at some point, they will engage in diet yammer. In my way of thinking (which might not be yours, of course), if they don't comment on what I'm ingesting, I'm able to muddle through the evening. However, the second any sort of shade gets thrown at my particular meal choice, I simply have no other option than to be a vengeful, snotty child and order the most bodacious, luxurious dessert imaginable (think deep-fried cheesecake with whipped cream, hot fudge, and vanilla ice cream) and make the most rapturous yummy sounds I can manage while I lovingly spoon each morsel into my mouth. It's how my rolls roll.

I was at a wedding once where a person at the table was very pointed about making sure everyone at the table knew she was on a diet and that she was being VERY bad for eating pretty much anything off the scrumptious buffet. What made it even more appalling was how, as she was eating a slice of cake, she made sure the BRIDE was aware that she was breaking her diet to have that slice of cake. It's that sort of mania, among many other things, that helped seal my "I will never fucking diet again" belief. And what's so utterly sad is that that almost nobody at that table blinked an eye (my eye, on the other hand, was blinking like I'd just had a contact slip behind my eyeball). They praised her for her restraint. They assured her that a brisk walk or time on the treadmill would quickly take care of that sinful, terrible, life-taking buffet and cake. And whenever I see things like that or read stories along those lines from people who are so devoted that they flagellate themselves for having anything that isn't on their "plan", it only makes me more determined to be as vocal as I possibly can about HAES in the hopes that it might turn at least one head for even a millisecond.

Anyway, back to this very special episode of Miss Manners. The letter writer isn't done yet--he/she has to get in one last bit of snark before ten-fouring Miss Manners:

Perhaps she can join the group later for a concert or movie if she is not too weak to stay out past 8 p.m. Now that's just bitchy. Admittedly, I chortled a bit, but still. Miss Manners shuts the shit down with her version of "STFU", manages to wedge in a little tsk-tsk at dieters who would blow shit at someone for eating in a non-Weight Watchers fashion, and all ends firmly and yes, as ever, politely.

Letter Writer, there are so many awesome ways you could have gone with this. Instead, you came straight from Planet Bwuuuh?, and blew an opportunity to say something good and biting about the dieting culture. On the flip, however...thanks for putting a spring in my bloggy step.


Mich said...

Thank you for linking to that Miss Manners response. I was at a seminar recently where people felt the need to inflict their food phobias /issues /idiocies on their tablemates, so this was very timely. I may need to start practicing that Belushi eyebrow raise you mentioned.

nuckingfutz said...

Okay, I have to say, I love this entire post. But this:

Planet Bwuuuh?

made me laugh. I'm STILL chuckling over it!

Anonymous said...

This made my day, especially the caps lock of misery bit. And I'm glad someone else pointedly orders a scrumptious dessert (with attendant orgasmic noises) when a friend or family member hints that I shouldn't be eating what I'm eating.

Keep it up!

DivaJean said...

You had me following until you threw in keeping kosher, following Muslim teachings, vegan etc.

I am a HAES, anti-dieting person- but if beliefs and spiritualism come into play when it comes to food- its the third rail for me. I stay off it.

Amen Sistah to the full sugar, caffeine high of soda! At a wedding reception recently, people looked at me crosseyed for getting full sugar, caffeine cherry Pepsi. Sometimes, its just about the extra flavor in my cola! How dare I have sugar! (While everyone else was getting snockered on even higher calorie booze- irony, anyone?)

MyUserNameReadIt said...

Does any one take in to account that someone may be ordering a diet soda b/c they're diabetic?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I just love you.

Also, I'm now feeling horribly guilty about every time I've bitched about
A) being fat
B) what foods I can't eat
C) punishing myself by going to the gym

I've been brainwashed, but I'm going to break out and embrace the awesomeness of me without food restrictions and gym punishment.

You're an inspiration, my dear.