Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gluten, Bars, and Getting Old

When she read my post about the Upper Breast Side, my college friend L emailed me: "a store called the upper breast side is exactly the type of store we would have made fun of in college. admit it. yet it sounds like a strangely intriguing place now. when i have a baby and come visit you in nyc for advice and time away from baby, you will have to take me there."

And yesterday, my mom friend H came over for a mom summit (in other words, "I'm bored out of my mind, so let's get together and complain about feeling tired and worry about our mothering and also possibly talk about clogs"). We sat on my living room floor, chasing after our babies as they desperately tried to find and chew on all available electrical cords in the room, and we discussed her new diet, which is called the No Wheat Or Gluten Or Anything That Even Looks Like It Or Has Touched It Or Has The Letters "W" Or "G" In It Diet. She has adopted this NWOGOATELLIOHTIOHTLWOGII Diet due to all sorts of intestinal and autoimmune stuff both in her and her baby, and goshdarn if it hasn't worked.

"It's so strange," she said, after telling me about how she has thrown out all her old cutting boards to avoid gluten cross-contamination, "because it's like I've turned into-"

I interrupted. "Someone we would have made fun of in college?"

"Yes! Or someone I would have made fun of last year - or last month even!"

And I totally agree with her. Until recently, an anti-gluten goose-stepper would definitely have made my To Be Scorned list, cross-referenced under Humorless, No Fun to Eat Out With, and Has Read Too Much Andrew Weil. But now, suddenly, it seems to make complete sense, and I am starting to view my own frantic, constant consumption of wheat products with growing alarm.

There are a lot of things, I am coming to realize, that I would have made fun of in college - or "when I was younger," or before I got married, or before I had a baby - that I see completely differently now. There was a time, for instance, when I was completely mystified by the idea that someone might not want to go out, or might not want to have a drink, or might not want to stay up late. There was a time when I would rather have died than not go to Smalls*, or Augie's**, or Night Cafe***, because what if I missed something fun? There was a time when I thought extended nursing was totally disgusting. There was a time when I thought that parents should just put their babies in their cribs and leave them till they fell asleep, because how else will they learn? There was a time when I would think nothing of going to a show in Williamsburg on a weekday night, even if it meant only getting a couple of hours of sleep and then teaching on a killer hangover the next day. Moreover, I would have scorned anyone who disagreed with me as being humorless and unhip.

Now, my feelings are more or less the opposite - in other words, I have become humorless and unhip. Of course, I don't really feel that way. Instead, on a good day, I feel sophisticated and wise, and look upon the youthful, partying masses of which I was once part as being callow and foolish. There is, obviously, no right answer here; or rather, the right answer seems to shift as we do. No matter how much we may pretend or try to appreciate other people's places and paths, I think it is very, very difficult not to secretly harbor the conviction that where we are in this moment - even if it is abject misery - is the best, most vital place to be. And I guess, at bottom, it would be useless to feel any differently, because as myopic and self-centered and amnesiac as it might be, if I am not going think the world of whatever I happen to be doing right this very moment, who is?****

*The cover used to be $10, you know, and it was BYOB, so ha ha on you if you missed the good old days.
**Smoke, by the way, is nothing like Augie's, in that it is clean and expensive and has strange, arty decor.
***Closed now, so you'll have to go play pool with creepy locals somewhere else.
****My husband says that all of my posts are structured this way, where I posit something, then meander down that path a little while, then say, "I guess" and come to some sort of touching/deep conclusion. I guess...he's right. Ha, see what I did there?

1 comment:

Kate said...

My hosts took me to Augie's when I was a 16-year-old prospective student and I got a gin and tonic and smoked clove cigarettes and was all "I LOVE COLUMBIA!!" Heh. That should be the test for those Chinese gymnasts. Would the most lackadaisical, jaded New York door guy let you in to a bar in Morningside Heights? Yes? Congratulations! You can pass for 16. No? Better luck when your grown-up teeth come in.