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Friday, March 19, 2010


Save the children, shut the door

--You eat too fast.
--I know.
--It’s not good for you.
--I know, and it’s unseemly.
--It’s like you have no confidence about where your next meal’s coming from.
--I’m sorry, it’s a habit. Something happens before lunch. When I was teaching, by mid-morning I was ravenous. But I disciplined myself. No snacks, I told myself. No trail mix, no power granola bar. When I finished my eleven o’clock I dog-trotted back to my office. I closed the door and ate…. Well, never mind.
--I know. I see it most days.
--It’s one of the negatives in retirement, isn’t it? Seeing how your spouse eats his lunch. Knowing now how all those years, he was away at noon, eating like that. I’m sorry.
--No, honey, it’s all right. You aren’t gross or anything. Not often.
--But you make sure to keep your hands out of range, don’t you?
--It’s just a little unsettling, that’s all.
--I always closed the door so students couldn’t see. I was aware of being out of control, chewing my sandwich, almost desperate. I never understood why this was so.
--Did you try relating it to your past?
--You mean was I weaned too soon, that sort of thing? I’m pretty sure I was a demand-feeding baby.
--I can certainly believe that.
--No, I don’t think of myself as an oral type, although the signs are all there. Talking for a living. Drinking, smoking. I suppose that could have something to do with it.
--So, you would close the door. You knew if they watched you eating it would strike your students the wrong way.
--I remember inhaling sandwiches, demolishing bags of potato chips, eating an apple the way a chipper chows down tree limbs. I remember thinking, “It would alarm them. If they saw me this way, they’d go to the registrar and drop the course.”
--Poor baby.
--I don’t think my cover was ever broken. After savaging my food, I’d open the door. For all the world, there was Professor Knister, the embodiment of equanimity and self-control, ready for business.


  1. There are negatives in retirement?

  2. Alas, I continually tell myself to slow down whilst eating (and I always ache to find an excuse to use 'whilst'). I blame it on the Navy...boot camp specifically. We had fifteen minutes to eat so wolfing it down was the order of the day.

    Yes, it's true. If you eat slower you tend to eat less. I know it's true. Why do I have to tell myself that over and over?


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