I eat like a dog.
I’m not kidding, I seriously eat like a dog. If I were a dog, my name would be Halethorpe.
This affliction is likely the result of my impatient nature. By my undying need to do everything immediately and have it done as soon as it has started. If you wanted to be nice to me, you could say I’m focused.
But focused is not a synonym for impatient. And “focused” eating does not mean eating like you haven’t seen food in three days. Weeks. Months. Years.
Here’s what I mean.
I went on a date at the end of January, about a week after my birthday. Less than a month after my knee surgery. A few weeks after ending my two year spell with lover #3. Because, again, patience was left out of my biology.
We went to a very nice restaurant in Philly. The check was $500. The place was nice. This information didn’t quell me. A $500 meal, if anything, will awaken my inner canine far sooner than it puts it to sleep, and that is exactly what happened.
Keep in mind, I was also drunk the entire time we were there, as we had already enjoyed mules at a hotel bar beforehand, and immediately ordered cocktails upon sitting down. I was fresh out of surgery, a relationship, and drinking copious amounts of alcohol was back in uncharted territory. Home girl was sauced. Now that you know this, let us carry on…
The restaurant we ate at is owned by some nationally renowned chef that you’d only know of if you were a true foodie. Read: I had never heard of the guy, but he’s a big deal.
The food was Iranian
The food was Israeli (thank you, Google), and it was delicious. And I was drunk. And I eat like a dog (in case you forgot what the point of this is). Granted, I try to put a lid on it when I’m out with people, and it was a date with this guy plus two other people, but I still struggled.
Between every course we did shots. My self-control was waning and the amount of food was only growing. It came in waves and each one hit me a little harder than the last.
I did alright during the appetizers, even though I was starving and tipsy. First up, hummus and pita. I devoured it, but we all did, at about the same pace. Then the salatim, where my complete unfamiliarity was the only thing slowing me down. That and the family-style service, meaning we had to pass the food around to each person. There were six of the salatim dishes, along with three types of incredible hummus. I was too overwhelmed to eat quickly – I was still in the clear.
But then came the mezze. Small plates, clumsy hands, a few drinks and a shot deep…out of the kitchen came fried cauliflower, artichoke and tuna, kibbe naya, the list goes on. I was crumbling. I sampled each new flavor with zeal, I bravely consumed a duck heart in one bite. There was no longer any hesitation. Food fell to the floor, human Haleigh had left the building, these three perfect strangers were now in the company of an omnivorous beast…Halethorpe was now in control.
And that’s about the time I stopped eating with my fork and knife, and started relying on my primitive hands to consume the foreign delicacies set before me.
We still had Al Ha’esh to go. Al Ha’esh is Israeli for barbecue. …do you see the problem? The food was coming out so fast, and I was so focused on everything already on the table, I didn’t know what I was eating anymore. Was it chicken? Was it even meat? I couldn’t tell you. I was blind. My taste buds were in the driver’s seat, chanting “eat! Eat! Eat!” as I mindlessly shoved food into my mouth. I dropped morsels onto the table, onto the floor, onto myself. As their eating slowed, my hunger was only growing. Halethorpe was growing stronger. I think my company noticed.
At one point, I dipped my finger into a serving dish my date was holding IN. HIS. HANDS. and inquired “what is this? It’s so good!” never considering that maybe that was rude. Maybe other people have boundaries.
We did about 3 more shots before the end of dinner. There was never a second date.
Lover #3 was committed to making sure things like that didn’t happen when we went on dates. He often failed…
If you haven’t gathered, when I get excited about food, silverware and cutlery fails to exist within my plane of existence. I just don’t see it anymore, and if I do, it seems…inconvenient.
Lover #3 and I took a very nice, relaxing vacation to Chincoteague Island back in December, a few short weeks before our imminent demise. There was only one nice restaurant open on the island at the time, since the local businesses are primarily seasonal to cater to tourism demand. I mean this place was a ghost town. But not Bill’s. Anyone who was on the island was at Bill’s restaurant. Lover #3 and I decided, on our last night, that we would go to Bill’s and have dinner. We had been avoiding it because it was on the pricey side.
We decided to walk over because the island is really small. If you’ve been to Chincoteague, you know that most things are within walking distance. Upon entering, we were sat in the dead center of the room. Lover #3 hated it. I was indifferent. But then again, he’s the one who has to be seen with a human stomach in restaurants, so retrospectively, I don’t really blame him.
I ordered a seafood delight pasta dish. It came with lobster tail, shrimp, mussels, clams, and probably some other shellfish, too. It was incredible. It didn’t take long for this entire endeavor to go completely south for Lover #3, in the middle of a restaurant filled with an entire town’s worth of people. I had arrived starving, and now I had a mountain of spaghetti and shellfish in front of me, with a man I was completely comfortable with.
Halethorpe pounced on the lobster, shells flew, spaghetti hung from my mouth, vanished into the vast abyss of pasta on my plate. Lover #3 looked on in horror. He scolded. He at one point put the fork back in my hand. I probably threw it on the floor. I embarked on a journey through a pound of fresh shellfish heaven in a world apart from Billy’s restaurant. My spirit had left the room, leaving only Halethorpe and Lover #3. I don’t know at what point he just stopped trying, but it was probably close to when my human consciousness came back to the room with a stretch and nonchalant, “wow, that was really good.”
He didn’t let me order dessert.
And that’s not the first time shellfish and Halethorpe horrified people I love. I’ve been a canine at the table since I was a wee thing.
One summer, on the way back from a week stay at the jersey shore, my family stopped in a seafood restaurant. At the time, I was maybe twelve, 5’5” and around 90 pounds. But my stomach was that of a morbidly obese 50 year old man.
I ordered five pounds of Alaskan king crabs legs, much to my father’s delight.
My dad decided that I would probably have a difficult time cracking through the thick crab shell, so he offered to crack legs open for me, but on the condition that I had to remove the meat myself. My dad thought this would result in personal gain. Happily, my dad cracked three legs open for me.
His thought: She is never going to finish all of these crab legs. I am going to get so much crab meat, this is awesome.
My thought: Why did he only crack three crab legs open?
My dad took about 3 bites of his meal in the time it took me to vacuum those three crab legs dry. Surprised, but not disconcerted, my dad cracked five more open.
The real problem with this system was that as he handed me a leg, I immediately began dissecting it like a rabid raccoon face first in a trash can. It was perfect, because there was no expectation to even use a fork. This was a hands-on activity. I reveled in the freedom of it all.
Eventually, my dad wasn’t delivering open crab legs fast enough for me. Tiny twelve year old, who blows away if the wind gusts exceed 25 mph, took on the challenge of cracking king crab legs. I think at one point my hand started bleeding from the cuts. I welcomed the salt water sting by ignoring it. See: I am a dog. I was a dog then, I am a dog now. A bottomless food pit, dark and devoid of any concern besides putting more food in my mouth as quickly as I possibly can.
My dad was jarred by my ravenous behavior. Still, he was optimistic about the fact that he would get some crab meat before the end of dinner. It was inevitable, eventually I would get full. Or so he thought…
I marched on. Crack, pull, engulf, repeat. I was a force to be reckoned with, there was no doubt in my mind that each precious nugget of crab meat would fall victim to my small, deceptively forceful hand.
My sister was oddly silent during this whole ordeal. I think she was watching in terror. Honestly, upon recounting this story it dawned on me that even though my mom and sister were definitely present, my tunnel vision had erased them from the room entirely. Even my dad’s presence is still somewhat questionable to me. Halethorpe does not recount who was present, only what was present. Never mind that there is no way a 12 year old would walk into a restaurant alone and order five pounds of Alaskan king crab legs. It was only Halethorpe and the sustenance.
I don’t remember finishing all the crab legs, I just know that I did. And when my dad dug through my shell graveyard, he found not a fiber of crabmeat remaining.
I devoured five pounds of Alaskan king crab legs, much to my father’s dismay.
This madness didn’t begin when I was twelve, it began the moment I was born. I have been forever eating everything in sight with the fervor of stray dogs.
Before I could speak, I would rummage through strangers’ pool bags at the local water park for their snacks. My hunts were usually successful, much to my mother’s mortification. When I was 4, I would pack a snack for anything. When I was seven, I stole Lauren’s slice of pizza off her plate at Amber’s birthday party and ate it in one bite. No seriously, one bite. When I was nine, my neighbors would call me over to finish up their leftovers. I always left hungry, and not for lack of food. If I eat dinner, I have to convince myself it wasn’t actually dinner, or I will get hungrier. I have bankrupted boyfriends with food bills.
I might just be a dog.