I’d known since last week that today was going to be a hard one. At 41, I’m lucky to be alive. At 41, I’m foolish in that I hadn’t done anything for the safety of my health, my own sanity as well, until now. At 41, all I really want to do is watch South Park all day and eat Spaghetti-O’s out of a can, yet at 41, responsible choices matter. Extreme weight gain, a nagging breast lump, and severe nightly panic attacks have gotten me to this point in my life when I can finally admit to myself It’s Time To Be A Damned Grownup.
Today I practiced playing Adult. I had my first official doctor’s visit with the intent to have a General Practitioner for the first time in my life. Of course, the initial consultation is nothing but answering a lot of “Yes” and “No” questions: “Yes, I drink occasionally.” “No, I’ve never had major surgery.” “Yes, I like chocolate.” “No, I can’t quit chocolate.” Then there is the feeling around the body of All Things Suspect, then there are prescriptions, and then the 6 referral appointments for everything else, of course. This is why I didn’t do the routine doctor-visit thing to begin with — too many additional appointments for each and every individual specialist at his or her office. It’s so tedious.
I bloody well TREATED myself after that. I deserved it. There’s a good sushi place not too far from the medical center, so I went, sat myself down at the bar area (I love to watch the sushi chef slice and roll bits up and make it all so pretty), and immediately felt relaxed. This was familiar. This was my world. I like sushi because of the taste choice one gets, and in such delectable — and often odd — combinations. I never have their set lunch combos; I think that’s cheating oneself out of the authenticity of the experience. Today, I had a little oshinko in lieu of cucumber maki along with the yellowtail and squid. I never eat it properly though. I’ve a Japanese friend who thought it was funny that I didn’t eat the delicate slices of gari in-between pieces of sushi, like one’s supposed to. Instead, I choose to top my fish with it. It’s a very strong contrast of taste (and textures) — the salty-cool, slickery fishy mildness of the yellowtail combined with the spicy-sour afterthought of the gari.
Of course, as I’m sitting there, enjoying my pickled ginger topped yellowtail, someone HAD to say something about it. It’s usually what happens when one sits at the sushi bar instead of at a table. I often get a “What are YOU eating?”or a “That looks GOOD!” Today, an ogre sat two seats away from me — 300 pounds of blubber and hair and sour aftershave. I gathered he was a regular there since the sushi chefs loudly guffawed along with him. As much I did my darnedest not to look his way, not to make any eye contact with him, it really didn’t matter for long.
“You’re not supposed to each sushi like that! You eat the ginger AFTER!” he barked with a snigger.
When I gathered the courage to look up at the resident sushi connoisseur, he had already worked his way through Asahi number two. His big, moony face had drawn into a wide leer at me.
“I didn’t realize I was in the presence of such an expert,” I said softly, mainly into my glass of water.
He nodded, his jowls Jello-jiggling as he did. “I come here a lot. You’re supposed to use the ginger to cleanse the palate.”
Of course, I knew this. Of course, I played ladylike. “Interesting. Thank you for sharing that.”
His sushi plate — a virtual dinner tray loaded with various maki rolls and sushi bites — was set down in front of him. He casually broke off his chopsticks with his meaty paws and dug in, but not before he told me, in all seriousness:
“Real men eat sushi.”