The Great Pretender
I want to introduce a guest writer for this blog. My sister! Amy Sharman is, quite simply, one of the funniest people I know. And she’s an incredible writer. As the topics on this blog can err on the heavy side, I wanted a little slice of humour. I couldn’t think of anyone better suited to fill those boots than my talented, funny sister!
Recently, I made peace with something that I had buried deep within. Something I thought I could lie about for the rest of my life. But I have decided, after much soul-searching, to share my journey with others.
A wise woman once said, ‘that which you keep chained in a dark basement, cannot see the light”. Okay, I said that.
So here it is (deep breath):
I hate sun-dried tomatoes.
This may sound strange, but I pretended to like SDT’s for years. Why? Oh, I don’t know, probably because they’re healthy and chewy and a great addition to pasta and salads. But they’re more than that. They’re wholesome-sounding and environmentally friendly – after all, the sun has dried them. Who wouldn’t like something dried by nature’s benevolent heater? Me. That’s who.
You see, I believed that if I kept trying them, eventually I’d learn to like them.
It’s as though the image I have of myself is synonymous with those who would like sun-dried tomatoes: joyful, fun-loving types who enjoy a brisk hike and good back massage followed by a healthy lunch of crisp greens, made heartier by the addition of, yes, sun-dried tomatoes.
It’s not as though I find them unattractive; I’m just not attracted to them. But then, I would wonder, why do other people seem to like them so much? What’s wrong with me? And so I kept going back for more, ignoring all the signs, such as grimacing while eating them, or having to wash them down with huge gulps of wine, that perhaps these wrinkly packages of lycopene potency were simply not for me.
So I kept at it. In restaurants, my food orders went something like this:
“Okay! I’ll have the pasta with the sun-dried tomatoes, please!”
“Mmm…let’s see…I’ll go with the spinach salad with sun-dried tomatoes.”
“You know what? I’ve decided on the sun-dried tomato soup.”
Not to mention,
“You’ve sold me on the sun-dried tomato focaccia!”
“Dessert? Why not! I’ll try the sun-dried tomato pie! Savoury right? Sounds delish!”
The truth is, it wasn’t delish. It was decidedly un-delish; but I was so determined to like these praise-heaped half-veggies.
So, a few weeks ago, while masticating yet another salad chock full of SDT’s, I decided I’d had enough of pretending. I told myself I was done. My tortured relationship was over.
Then came the hard part. Telling my family. As I’m sure you can imagine, it went something like this:
My parents arrived at my house. They sat down, looking worried. My mom licked her lips. They seemed a bit dry. It might have been because she wasn’t moisturizing them with an alcohol-free balm, but I thought she seemed nervous. My dad did his usual cough – the cough that rears its head when he’s in the throws of anxiety.
“Mom, Dad, “ I began. “I’ve got something I want to tell you both. First, let me say that I love you very much and I always will.”
“Oh God!” Mom whimpered.
Then we paused for my dad’s inevitable coughing fit.
“Anyway,” I continued, “I have decided I can no longer pretend, that’s right, I will NOT spend another day pretending I like sun-dried tomatoes.”
It was out. I let it hang there. I let it dangle in the wind, chin jutted defiantly.
My mom squeezed my dad’s hand. Then, possibly remembering that he had coughed into it, she quickly let it go.
“Are you sure?” My mom asked, eyes pleading. “I mean, are you really sure about this? Is it possible you just haven’t met the right sun-dried tomato yet?” She bit on that dry lip, fraying it a little bit more.
“You know what, Mom,” I responded, “I’ve done everything a person can do with a sun-dried tomato. I’ve chewed them slowly; swallowed them without chewing; I’ve drowned them in unhealthy sugar-based dressings and sauces and nothing has ever worked. I think it’s time to face facts: I’m not a sun-dried tomato kind of girl.”
My dad shrugged the shrug of disappointment. Mom sighed dejectedly. “Fine then. What should I do when you come for dinner? What if a few happen to fall into a salad? Or perhaps into a bowl of rotini? Hmm?”
“Mom, we both know they’re not going to jump in all by themselves, are they?” I said, rolling my eyes.
My mom wrapped her sweater tightly across her chest, a subconscious act of self-preservation no doubt.
“I guess not, “ she sniffed.
Then Dad gave it one last kick. “What are we supposed to tell our friends,”- cough – “you know, if they ask?”
“Oh, I don’t know, tell them I’m more of a purple-onion kind of girl. Tell them I like crumbled feta. Tell them you’re proud of me know matter what I eat, or don’t eat, as is the case.”
They slinked out the door, shoulders drooping, jaws a little slack.
I also wondered what my husband would think, after all, we had shared many an infected salad together on our date nights.
“We need to talk…” , I began.
And so we did. And guess what? We’re going to be okay. It turns out he didn’t like SDT’s that much either!
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I have unshackled myself from a long-standing lie, and it feels great! If this journey of mine helps even one person realize that they’ve been pretending to like marshmallows, or walking in the rain, or puppies, or “Modern Family” or Dijon mustard (let’s face it, the pressure to like Dijon is huge. I, for one, love it, but you might not), then my work is done. Stop pretending! OWN IT. You’ll be just fine.
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