Thursday, February 27, 2014

Eating Out

It happened again this week. Without seeking them out, I got to hear two people I know talking about a restaurant to which they had gone, each on a different day. It was restaurant review time. They had stopped near where I happened to be, and I do not know if they realized that I could hear them. I would not have given attention to what they were saying except I heard one of them saying something I had heard her say before in just this context: “I have to admit I was disappointed.”

Without seeing her, I could picture her at that moment. She would be leaning her head in and turning it slightly as though she were sharing something confidential.

What I knew was happening was that these two people had each ventured out to a restaurant and paid sixty or seventy dollars for a meal. Maybe more. As part of what they had paid for, a certain future frisson was their right. They could, if they wished, shudder with disappointment at their costly evening.

The bald truth is, they had been willing to incur significant expense for the chance to test the publicity, the advertising, the online reviews, the word of mouth among their acquaintances. There used to be times when I did the same thing, when I enjoyed the advantages of a two-income household. Was there resentment on my part this week hearing people with the freedom to be disappointed after a significant expense on what was actually a non-necessity? Was it that they had what I did not have, that they got to do what I could not?

No, that was not where my thinking was going. Not where my feeling was going as I overheard these two people. I frankly was thinking of all the perfectly satisfying meals I have had the good fortune to enjoy, meals that did not claim anything near sixty or seventy dollars. Some of them were meals ordered out in restaurants, but a whole lot more were prepared in my own kitchen and served at my dining room table.

Another little chink has been introduced into my ideas about how to spend money. What do I benefit from spending sums that I do not have to pay? Why do I and others venture so often to want more? What curiosity motivates us to look elsewhere when the satisfactory is so near and sometimes so easy?

How many priceless memories surround meals where the person across from us was the food we most needed?

2 comments:

To live that day said...

As always I pick a sentence, a thought, a question from what you write that touches a nerve…

"What curiosity motivates us to look elsewhere when the satisfactory is so near and sometimes so easy?"

A question that never failed to present itself, but never met its answer though.

Philip F. Clark said...

The most wonderful riches come from simplicity of connection; the best fare is that of eyes smiling across at each other, as food and drink are taken together in sharing -- give me a simple home-cooked meal with a friend to share it with every time. Oh the things that cost so little are so close at hand, and they give so much in return. Wonderful post John, and a reminder of the importance of how and what we feed ourselves.