The Goddess Speaks
Dinner-plate tactics reveal inner psyche
I dated this guy who had a really weird eating style. He didn't have bad manners. He was just very focused.
He ate one thing at a time. First, his meat. Then his potato. If he was still hungry, he ate vegetables. He had priorities.
He always had salad. But not until after the main course, kind of like the French. He preferred a separate bowl, and he'd pile it high with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber -- nothing fancy. Then he'd eat just salad. Plus, he loved dessert. That's the first thing he'd look at on the menu, but he saved it for last.
I noticed that he was similarly focused about other things, and I realized that you can tell a lot about people by how they eat.
This guy lives life just as he eats -- one thing at a time. His job was the meat, his daughter the salad and I, dessert -- which of course he enjoyed, but always last, or sometimes skipped over. I guess he was too full.
Then there's my friend Teresa. I can always count on a good time when I am with her. She orders dessert first, even at breakfast.
We used to go out for Sunday brunch. Before the waitress had water on the table, Teresa would order pie.
After kids, it was ice cream in her morning java. Häagen-Dazs Vanilla. It was delicious. I heard her tell her 3-year-old son that no, he could not have ice cream for breakfast, that was for grown-ups.
Pleasure comes first in Teresa's life.
You can observe the usual clues. A nervous guy nibbles obsessively on a bag of Chex Mix until it is gone. He's a comfort eater, one of those who eat their feelings.
A control freak is also pretty easy to spot. She orders egg-white omelets, salad dressing on the side, broiled fish. Low cholesterol, low carbs, low fat. You can usually bet that somebody who's that extreme when eating out probably exerts control in general.
She vacuums so that all fibers in the carpet point in the same direction. He hangs up all of his shirts by color and lines up the nails in the toolbox by length. They might even expect you to do things their way, too.
What about people who mix up all of the food on their plates? They like variety.
My daughter is like that. At the movies she dumps everything in with her popcorn. In a handful I get mochi crunch, gummy bears and M&M's along with the buttery kernels. She wants to try everything. She wants to play sports, go swimming and be a doctor who runs a pet store someday.
People with sloppy table manners tend to be sloppy in their lives. I used to live with a guy who had bad table manners. He left a mess at home, and it spilled over into other parts of our life.
So, the next time you think that you just can't figure somebody out, go out for a meal. In his manners or her style, you can get all the clues you need to determine how they are from how they eat.
Lorraine Gershun is publications adviser for Searider Productions at Waianae High School.
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