Now that Facebook has bought Instagram, it’s easier than ever to post Instagram pictures on your Facebook wall. And since Instagram is about cell phone photos, it consists largely of what people tend to take pictures of with their cell phones: their food. And man, this is really starting to get to me, well beyond a reasonable level.
I’ve never had a comfortable relationship with food. I eat it, of course, and I have some favorites, and I get to craving candy or popcorn on a regular basis, but in general, in a food qua food way, it bugs me. I don’t want to look at pictures of it. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to prepare it or think about it. It bothers me the way a ringing telephone bothers me, and to the same abnormal level.
Psychologically, it probably isn’t hard to figure out why this is. I grew up around New Orleans, known for its food, but food was not ever a welcome subject in our house. My mom hated cooking (she seemed to enjoy baking, though) and every meal she prepared was accompanied by a litany of complaining. My mom struggled with weight and depression for the entire time our lives intersected, and it was clear even to me that preparing meals was a painful collision of these two things for her. It made her miserable, and when my mom was miserable, we were all miserable. In addition, I was a picky eater as a child, and have many memories of my dad getting angry about me not wanting to eat something and yelling at me about it. There are few to no happy food memories in my childhood.
For me, then, food became something of an item of last resort. You go in, grab what you can, and leave the area as soon as possible. I snuck bags of Taco Doritos into my room so that I could munch on them in isolation, not in the same way an alcoholic drinks, but in the way that a survivalist holes up in a bunker.
I never developed even a normal relationship with food, much less the attitude of an enthusiast. Once on my own I ate pizza and fast food and ramen noodles partly because they were cheap but also because they were fast, easy, and reduced the amount of time I’d have to think about eating.
This continues to this day. I am useless in the kitchen. If I’m given a task I can do it, but cooking isn’t something I can’t do (I can follow directions well enough) it’s something I am uncomfortable while doing. I don’t like being around food being prepared. I don’t like thinking about the process. If I’m asked, “What do you want for dinner?” I get really nervous and it takes a lot of effort to not just reply with something that will get the process over with as soon as possible. (A restaurant is acceptable for me because even though it extends the “food-thinking time” most of it happens away from me.) When Becky is away I eat poorly and only when hunger pangs remind me to do so. Back when I was on my lefty documentaries kick I tried to watch Food, Inc. but didn’t make it more than a few minutes in, not only because of the animal abuse, but because I just couldn’t take that much talk about food.
This is why I don’t want to see the photos of that lovely meal you prepared and ate. I’m sure it was pleasant and tasty, but the admittedly weird truth is: food photos make me uncomfortable and even a little disgusted. It’s not quite a phobia, but I sure don’t like it.
I know this is strange. I know it’s far from usual. I’m not asking anyone to accommodate me or anything; I know I’m the weird one here and just need to deal with it myself. All I’m trying to do is explain where I’m at, even though most of you won’t have any idea how someone could be this way.
I’m trying to change this, in ways I’m not free to talk about at the moment (nothing weird here; someone has a birthday coming up) but it seems to be embedded deep into my psyche, and that will take some work.