I have been married nearly 50 years (next April). I believe one of the things that makes for a long-lasting union is each partner’s ability to accept and/or overlook idiosyncrasies that one of you finds vexatious in the other. I mean, let’s face it, none of us are without little aggravating habits that may peeve the other, even if nothing is said out loud about it. Letting these meaningless yet annoying little visitations pass without comment is often the secret behind flourishing marriages. I think my wife and I have done this quite satisfactorily.
That’s why I was surprised the other day when I unexpectedly let it be known that there was one thing she does that distracts me more than just a bit. I’m sure we are not alone in the habit of couples sharing food with each other. Whether at home or at a restaurant, we often sample each other’s food, especially if the comments about it are inviting. That’s just fine. Where it becomes a problem is when she takes the very first bite of one of my dishes!
I’m all in on share and share alike when it comes to trading bites of delicious food. Heck, the Chinese made it into an art form. But something inside me finds it difficult to give up the first bite, whether it is a delicious sandwich or a luscious steak or a yummy dessert. Maybe it was competing with my older brother for sparse helpings of food as a child. Maybe it was because, growing up in a relatively poor family, getting a good steak or a nice gourmet dessert was a rarity. I relished having it so much, I treated it like a prized possession. For whatever reason, taking that first bite was ethereal to me.
The other day, after my having made one of the 10 greatest sandwiches of all time, I turned to pour some milk and when I turned back to retrieve this “mother of all sandwiches”, my sweet wife was enjoying the very first bite! Sadly, this was just another bite of another sandwich in her mind, not realizing that I see that initial mastication as nothing short of an out-of-body experience! It was then that I revealed to her the angst of having suppressed this wanton need in the back of my mind for lo these many years of wedded bliss. I confessed the many times that I suffered internally as she took the first lick of my strawberry ice cream cone or the first spoonful of my beloved peanut soup. Even talking about the time she took the first delectable morsel of my Grasshopper Crème pie causes painful flashbacks.
But probably the most bothersome of all, is when we are out dining and deciding on our selection. She will often think of having what I’m having, but change her mind and order something else. Fine, that’s normal. But when the food comes, whose dish do you think she takes a bite out of first, before either of us has even begun? If you’ve been paying attention, I don’t think I have to go into the appalling details of that scenario.
But as with all unpleasant events, there is always a silver lining. My first-bite fetish is now out in the open and no longer lurking in the recesses of my subconscious. Realizing that it is wrong to internalize this so, I’m in weekly counseling now, and starting to see results. Just last week, I actually offered her first dibs on my chocolate milkshake. Even more gratifying, yesterday I took the first bite of her first pancake at breakfast! God, that felt good. It’s like an albatross has been taken from my neck. And best of all, I believe now there’s a good chance we will make it to 50!
My newfound attitude toward this has been so encouraging, I’m thinking of talking to her about how she can possibly, in good conscience, take the last Klondike bar in the freezer without asking me.