Eating is a necessity. Invented in 1982 by Masterchef’s creators, it is as much of a necessity as breathing and owning the internet. Without any of these, you die. That’s what it says in the bible. I’ve not read the bible, but it says it in that.
Water. That’s the other one. Luckily, water’s in a lot of stuff, so you can drink that instead. I want to talk about something that terrifies me. Eating out. Not out of a lady’s chuckle-hole, but I mean out with friends, or family. I don’t like it, i’ve never liked it. Here I try to explain why without sounding like a massive pebble.
Firstly, I am something of a solitary eater. I always have been. I like my own space. By space, I mean like being in space, with nobody around. In space, nobody can hear me eat, and that’s the way I like it.
My nightmare begins with the suggestion. An example:
“Phyllis. (My nickname) We are all having some sort of a night out, it will include some drinking and merriment, and possibly some bonhomie, but at some point, we’re going to have to eat.”
Already, the sweat beads on my forehead, the lines curl into a frown, my brow furrows and burrows into my eyes. I shake, I shit myself, I sit down and curl my knees around my head, pounding the floor and crying, until my knuckles bleed. When I’ve calmed down, I notice everybody’s gone anyway. Then I wander into traffic, while a piano plays somber music to accompany my shivering, red-eyed frame.
Eating out is one of the things I fear the most. The other things are being in a position of speaking to a group of people, and the birth of my first baby. Oh yes, they say, this is a miraculous thing, an incredible thing, the birth of your first child. I’d just be in there watching the head emerge thinking this:
“SHIT! This is horrible, it looks like the bit out of ALIEN 3 with the dogburster. Imagine that, ALIEN 3 with babies instead of bald prisoners, that would be horrible.” Then i’d start crying, shouting, and vomiting all at once. I would be dragged off, sedated and miss the whole fucking thing. Life ruined.
Anyway, i don’t like restaurants for the main reason that I don’t like people being aware of me eating, or me being aware of them eating. Sitting there for an hour, and half, if you’re lucky, listening to the sounds of mastication, smacking, chewing, lips flapping up and down, mouths opening and closing, matter being ingested and dispersed, a host of human cows chewing cud, mooing words through their sodding maws, and behind each one, a slimy lump of matter being turned over by moist tongues. Disgusting. I hate the whole sound of it all, and become aware of my own mouth, opening and closing like a fucking fish gob, plates clattering with cutlery, trapped in this consumer nightmare.
Nobody else thinks about it. They chatter happily, while I shuffle nervously in my seat, wedged into a corner, unable to leave. I think I am going to go crazy, I imagine myself relieving the tension by sliding a hand into my jeans and pulling myself off, just to distract myself from this hell. I think what it would be like if I started kicking everybody under the table and screaming hysterically until people leap on me and hold me down to tape over my screaming mouth. I imagine hurling plates directly into the mouths of other diners, and sitting on a table crapping into the breadsticks, bellowing like a stuck pig and hurling fruit into the eyes of all and sundry.
I don’t do this. I just sit and hope for the pub.