Slightly Stumped

Why is it so hard to say what we really want?

I guess I should qualify: it’s not always so hard. Example: what I would really like is spring. (Whenever you’re ready, New York. Whenever you’re ready. Although to be fair, this weekend was a good effort.)


What I’d like for weather is easy. Voicing what I’d like for dinner is decidedly more difficult, sometimes.


What if we got together and had nothing but cheese — from say, 6pm to 9pm — next Thursday night? How would you feel about the seasonal cheese flight, to start? I’m dying to see what they’ll pair with the Comté.


And would you be interested in the grilled cheese? It’s got to be good there, and it comes with tomato soup. Or the mac n’ cheese, maybe? How do you feel about mac n’ cheese? I feel really good about cheddar, Scharfe Maxx, Gruyère, Gouda, and breadcrumbs. Just, you know, as a general rule.

And one last question: where do you stand on cheesecake? Would you be up for the fig-crusted one, to cap things off?

I’m sure there are people out there who wouldn’t think twice about meeting a still-new friend for kind of an unorthodox meal. Who wouldn’t feel as if they needed a plan of some kind, in order to work their way through a meal. Particularly a meal without a salad, or a lean protein, or an ancient grain, or a trendy vegetable. Just cheese, please. 

Those people (most people?) would probably just pick a place that looked promising, with two open seats at the bar. They’d probably slide right in, and look at their menus for the first and only time. Probably a little distractedly. Maybe they’d ask a maximum of two questions? Then they’d say what they wanted — without tacking on anything about the intensity of their workout that morning or the size of their lunch that afternoon — and close their menus. Focus on their friends, the weather, the water, whatever.


I want to be most people. I want to say what I want — what I really want — without a trace of self-consciousness. I don’t want to overanalyze it. Not now, not later. I just want to say I’d love to have the brownie, please. Do you happen to know if it comes warm, by any chance? Oh! That would be great. And I want to finish up with oh yes – with ice cream too, please!


I want to be as exuberant a person on the inside as I am on the outside. And I’d like a permanent pass on quickly and quietly either condemning or congratulating myself, every single time I make a decision. Could I have that? I’d love to have that too.

This voicing what’s deep down inside business — it goes beyond dinner or dessert. You knew this was coming, didn’t you? It’s never really been about the food.

You see…what do I want has elbowed its way under the same umbrella as what do I want to do, which remains within poking distance of who do I want to be.

Why are these questions so hard to answer? They’re hard in an interview, and they’re hard in a regular old genuinely just getting-to-know-you. They’re also surprisingly hard to answer when you’re sitting all by yourself, in a very pretty park. Feeling completely stumped. And completely surrounded by people who are decidedly not stumped. Who are flourishing, even.


Maybe being successful — their kind of successful — is what I don’t want, actually. Maybe what I would really like is to have someone confirm that money isn’t so incredibly important, after all. Maybe what I would really like is to become a lobbyist for a bacon emoji. Maybe what I would really like is to just be one heck of a person. Would that be okay?


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