As you’ve probably figured out by now, I was pretty committed to my relationship ED.* And I’ve also learned the hard way that ED doesn’t take kindly to cheating.**
When I first began my vegan experiment, I quickly figured out how to use it to continue to isolate myself. No, sorry, vegans can’t eat hamburgers. I’d love to join you for lunch, but they don’t have vegan food in the food court.*** I would stay out late, but I have to get up early to make my kale smoothie. Even though I was no longer logged onto my calorie counting app, I still knew exactly how many calories–and their estimated macronutrient breakdowns–were passing my lips at every meal.
So when I was asked to go out on a date, I figured it would be no problem: I could just pull the “vegan card.”
My date-to-be pulled a different card entirely:
If you’ve ever seen the Vegan Bucket List, then you are a) familiar with the nationally acclaimed Sublime restaurant in Fort Lauderdale and b) probably already a hardcore, green-smoothie-and-tempeh vegan.
He even told me about the restaurant beforehand (because ED likes to panic if I don’t know the menu before I eat at a restaurant) and gave me the option to drive myself so I could leave if I felt like I was going to have an anxiety attack.
And since my date-to-be was also a really nice guy, I had exactly zero reasons to say no.
And so it was a date.
One of my friends happens to be an amazing make-up artist, and she volunteered to help me get ready for this, my first actual date in over a year. I went home to put on my dress and promptly proceeded to have a major panic attack, during which time I cried enough to do some major damage to the mascara. When I was done freaking out for no reason, I pulled myself together, put myself into a dress, put said dress and self into my car, and hauled ass to Fort Lauderdale.
The dinner was, as expected, spectacular. But that’s not why this date was so special. Food, as I’m learning, is just food. The experience is everything.
My date (by this point “to-be” become an unnecessary qualifier) was also a magician. And he asked me if I would consent to a card trick before dinner. I agreed.
My job was to simply separate the deck, one card at a time, into two piles. At one point, while I was randomly assigning cards to either pile, he hesitated and asked me, twice, if I wanted to rethink my card assignment. Other than that, I separated the cards quickly and without really thinking about it. Although “my decisions” about where to place the cards technically guided the whole trick, he somehow managed to have me separate the deck into a pile of black cards and a pile of red cards–with the exception of one: the black 8 of clubs was in the red card pile. I was nonplussed–was this the whole trick? It didn’t seem all that impressive–until he told me to look down at the bottom of the menu.
Needless to say, I liked pulling the 8 of Clubs much better than I liked pulling the “vegan card.”
Dinner consisted of decadence in the form of fake meat, simulated dairy, and many, many vegetables. I even had a few glasses of wine+ and a seriously indulgent chocolate dessert. The sheer number of calories was enough to warrant a severe punishing by ED when I went home, but I was too happy to care about ED’s reaction while I enjoyed my time with the magician.
The magician could, as magicians do, control for just about everything–the timing, the outcomes, the emotions. But life, and more importantly a life lived with ED, unfortunately demands a different kind of control. So while the magician could promise to make the moon disappear, ED’s magic was more impressive: ED could make me disappear. Going out–and especially eating restaurant food–meant introducing variables that could not be entirely controlled: I needed to know how my food was prepared, what time I’d be able to eat it, if I’d be home in time and with enough calories to spare for dessert, if I’d be staying up late enough to make me late for a workout or Bikram session, and whether or not I’d be able to leave if I started to feel claustrophobic and anxious. So more often than not, the magician came over to my house after dinner and left before bedtime.
And so, as usual, I started to pull back into myself, shrouding myself in ED’s protective, familiar, strangling embrace and away from the comfort and even freedom that my magician tried to offer.
In the end, the vegan card trumped the 8 of Clubs.
*Perhaps you can consider the dark circles under my eyes ED’s promise rings?
**If you can remember back to 2007, 2009, and 2010, you will have three of my most extreme examples of dating while under the influence of ED. I don’t recommend trying this.
***And, to those of you who are going to argue that the falafel at Maoz was vegan, I wasn’t about to shove fried food into my mouth just because the falafel guy told me it was 100% vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and “healthy.” Fried food is still fried food, just like organic gummy bears are still pure sugar.
+The first time I’d had alcohol since early March, and the second to last time I’ve had alcohol to date.