Tag Archives: fears

Eating: Private Fun/Public Shame

I absolutely hate eating in front of people, but sometimes it’s just unavoidable. I mean, I already eat alone in my work cafeteria every day anyway, hunched over like a freak with my nose an inch from my Kindle screen, so I can’t exactly take it further by, say, sequestering myself in a dark corner.

At home, I have zero hang ups about the way I eat (taking too big bites, laughing with my mouth open- classy stuff), and neither does my husband. We like to say we’re just enthusiastic about food. In public, I turn into a mess when other people are present while I’m eating.

I have to be very selective about what I eat in public. Salad may seem like a safe bet, but what about when the lettuce leaves are gigantic and I forgot a knife? At home I’d just shove that big piece of lettuce right into my food-hole, but not at work. Soup is usually a good bet. Easy to eat, minimal mess. I can even manage to talk to someone if I’m eating soup.

Sandwiches are a tricky bitch. It all depends- what kind of bread? What kind of filling? If it’s bread with some kind of grains or seeds on it or is particularly chewy or crusty, forget it. Too messy. If it’s really stuffed or I have to put on my own condiments, not likely.

The other part of the public shame of eating is that in my mind, everyone is looking at me thinking “What a pig!” and/or “What a slob!” I can’t just be picky about what I eat for the cleanliness factor, but what if these people are judging me for the health factor of my meal?

I see people at work eating a wide variety of foods with no qualms: big salads with lots of greens, a greasy sack of fast food, leftovers, etc. But for some reason I hold myself to this weird standard that means I can only eat soup or a frozen “health” meal.

I’m so hungry.

All my fears were brought to life today and now my hesitance to eat in front of others is even worse. I got a simple, non-sloppy sandwich from the cafeteria at work along with a green apple. But I was feeling hungry, so I also grabbed a bag of chips from the lounge in our office.

And just as I settled into the second half of the second Dark Tower book, the girl who had been sitting next to me looked over and said, “You’ve got this nice healthy lunch…and then a bag of Dorito’s!? Nice.”

You’ve completely crushed me, girl who sat next to me. I shall henceforth find a safe, dark hole to crawl into when I have to eat at work. Now I’m going home to “cut” a piece of chicken with my bare hands*, shove impossibly large bites into my mouth, and revel in the enthusiasm my husband and I share for keeping our meals private.

*I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, much to my mom’s dismay. I told her I did it because “it’s easier” but really I’m just a cavewoman.