Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

June 15, 2007

Careful What You Wish For

All I wanted was to find a guy I could admire. And who admired me back. Sort of a mutual admiration party, if you will. It started that way for Wine Guy and me, and I'm not saying it isn't like that anymore, but this one thought keeps popping up in my head....careful what you wish for. I mean, what the hell do you do if you start believing he's more admirable than you??

I started this entry originally while Wine Guy cooked up a storm in my pathetically understocked kitchen. The laptop is about three feet away from where he stood chopping, dicing, sauteing, whatever the hell else was going on in this space for the first time in the 5 years since I've lived here. But he didn't even notice my typing. Every once in awhile he would ask me for something I most likely didn't own - a bowl, a platter, an ingredient. I would dutifully rise, mutter some excuses for why I don't have it, or what might work instead, or simply "what the hell is that?"

I felt like a useless lump of flesh. As I typed, my heart grew heavier (as did my thoughts, most of which are deleted now). All I kept thinking was, "so what again do I bring to the table here?" Besides eating and doing the dishes, of course.

I should probably call Wine Guy something else, like Culinary Guy. But too late for that. The point is, he is a major foodie. He loves to cook, shop for organic, top-notch ingredients from grocery stores I have only walked through as a short cut.

I, in the other hand, shop for food every month or two and usually only at stores with Spanish language food labels that make you bag your own groceries. I cook for sustenance (but trust me, I eat with verve) and would never imagine asking another living soul to eat some of the crap I prepare for myself. Wine Guy cooks for joy -- and he's quite serious about it. It's one of the things I love about him and he is more than happy to feed me on a routine basis (I've already enjoyed several Thai meals, pasta bolognese, steak and garlic potatoes, etc).

I think if there has to be a problem here (and doesn't there always?), it's that I feel completely useless and uninteresting. I would like to learn what's going on the kitchen - and Wine Guy seems willing to tell me as he goes along -- but the fact is (and please chime in you chefs out there if I'm right or wrong on this one), people who love to cook don't really have the wherewithal to give spectators a play-by-play. Wine Guy is moving and shaking in that kitchen. Doing 3 to 10 things at once. If I'm there offering to help (and feeling mostly like an obstacle taking up space), then the best service I can provide is that of errand girl. Here, stir this. Could you rinse this off? Would you mind taking this out to the grill? That kind of stuff. He means nothing by it, but I can't help but feel bossed around.

I guess it's a Catch 22 when you finally meet and start to date a guy who brings so much to the table (I admire many more things about Wine Guy, not just cooking). When you date one-note guys (like Vain Guy), they're easy to figure out and frankly, you are the one in control because you damn well know he's lucky that you are interested in him. Maybe I'm just feeling down on myself these days (due to some medical/pain problems I've been having that have been grating my last nerve), but I feel like I have very little control here. I almost feel panicked - like he's going to suddenly realize that he's carrying the load and all I bring to the table is a nice ass (so he says), a healthy appetite, and a willingness to do the dishes.

So what did I do while acting as Wine Guy's errand girl in my own kitchen? I'm embarrassed to admit it but here goes....I pouted. I zoned out on the computer, made little smart ass comments when he asked me to do something (but still did it, not that it puts me in a better light, I know). By the time we sat down to eat the delicious meal, I felt like I would burst into tears at any minute. What did he like about me anyway? I felt uncultured, uneducated, useless, like I can't even feed myself properly.

When he asked what was wrong I basically told him. Nice move, Trooper. Now he felt like crap, apologizing for bossing me around in the kitchen like the whole thing was his fault, that he can be a "jerk." So then we were both sitting there over our steaks feeling like jerks. What happened to that mutual admiration party?

Was he being a jerk? Or was I being a baby? He knew from day one that I didn't cook. And he didn't care. I am falling over myself with appreciativeness that he is willing to pamper me with food (how he shows his affection I am seeing now) and teach me how to set up my kitchen so he can cook in it better (we are planning an inventory and kitchen shopping excursion for next weekend- his idea). And if I want to learn, I should LEARN and stop being a pouty baby about it.

Well, I tried to buck up and the rest of the weekend went much better. I helped more in the kitchen and tried to relax and be myself. Last night Wine Guy hosted a casual dinner party which was really fun. Plus I got to show what I bring to the table again by being social, conversational, cracking jokes, etc. Oh yeah...I think that was why he liked me in the first place wasn't it?

I don't know...this entry is a bit of a jumble so bear with me. I know my last several entries have been all ticker tape parade victory stories, but I assure you there is still war to be made. Even if it's exclusive between two people at the moment. Actually, I suspect I am more my own enemy here than anything else. Perhaps it's time for a refresher visit to the shrink....we'll see. Overall, I'm happy but frankly, kind of scared shitless.


Land Mines said...

You need to remember why he was attracted to you in the first place. Stop being so hard on yourself! What is great about your relationship is that you both bring different things into it yet you still have enough in common to enjoy each other.

Enjoy the moments when he is pampering you. :) It's hard to find a guy that that and you so deserve it!


About Melissa said...

I hate to say it, but maybe you need to do a little fishing. The problem isn't that he's a master of the kitchen and his efficiency made you feel inadequate. The problem is that you don't feel worthy--as a person. Since you're not seeing your own worth (for whatever reasons), ASK HIM why he likes you. Why not be honest about how you're feeling and ask him what he likes about you? I've had this same conversation with my husband many times, and he always makes me feel better. But of course, because I have such LOW self esteem, I always forget why I'm worthwhile. So I ask him AGAIN. And he tells me again (the sweetheart). One day maybe we'll remember what's so great about us and we won't have to "go fishing."

Loverville said...

Ditto what they said.

You obviously bring a LOT to the table (so to speak!) in your relationship with WG! Do you find that it helps to step back, blog here, and re-evaluate?

Of course we all get down on ourselves every so often -- that's only human.

I highly suggest a read of Alain de Botton's book "On Love" -- he describes the different phases of a relationship, including self-doubt. Totally normal.

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare said...

Thanks everyone. Yes, LV, this blogging is helping me immensely! Mostly because by the time I write everything out and then edit out all the unecessary elements to the story, I realize these elements are also unecessary/irrelevant to the the actual truth. So by the time I think it all through and hit "publish," I see things a lot more clearly and am able to get outside the jumble of emotion and self doubt we all face. Very therapeutic indeed. I also think about something my mom always told me (remember, she's a shrink), "Just because you feel it, doesn't mean it's true.'
Good advice indeed. By the way, my mom gave me that de Botton book a long time ago. I have to dig it out again. Thanks!

Luke H said...

Wow, this post really got to me because in many ways, I AM that guy. I like cooking, and I like to do it right, so I often get quite bossy in the kitchen.

Regardless of how well my girlfriends can cook, I never felt that this made them directly unattractive. I mean, if a girl was absolutely no help at all but stood behind me and felt my butt and marvelled at my cooking skills, I'd love it!

Don't worry so much that lacking one little skill might make you unattractive. He's there cooking for you, so you must be doing something right.