Among my group of girlfriends at work, I’ve always secretly considered myself The Normal Friend. I didn’t really spend time dwelling on it, and I honestly never put it into words before now, but I always just assumed they all thought of me that way. We eat lunch together at least once a week, and after a few years of soaking up the lovable idiosyncrasies and quirks of these girls, I guess I built a false little sense of security that I was the normal one.
And last week, it all came crashing down.
Four of us were at one of our favorite local Mexican restaurants, sharing some queso and complaining about work. We all pretended to look at the menu even though we’re all predictable enough we could order for each other. Our food came quickly, like always, and we settled into our normal lunchtime dance of talking about our kids, our bosses, and any new gossip.
“Could you please explain to me your method of eating a quesadilla?” Suddenly interrupted our exchange of nonsense.
I half-thought she must be talking to someone else at the table. But after a quick glance around the table to confirm that I was, indeed, the only one with a quesadilla, and a raise of the eyebrows as if to say, “who? me?” I realized I was suddenly the center of attention.
At this point, my friend Amanda put down her fork to better focus on my reaction to her pointed question. And the entire table had stopped to watch the scene unfold.
“It’s like you’re skinnin’ it.”
I just sat there. Speechless. Didn’t she know that I’m The Normal Friend? I don’t get asked these questions. We HAVE that friend. The member of the group who consistently eats strange things by strange methods, and has no reservations about it. I am not that friend. So I just sat there, kinda stammering around. I think I was hoping she would smile, admit to joking, and we would move on with lunch.
But she just stared at me. Waiting for my answer.
“Please. Tell me. What’s your plan, here?” Motioning to my plate.
I found voice enough to start defending myself. The words just kinda fell out of my mouth in a stream of barely coherent gibberish. I quickly explained how I didn’t want to eat all the bread-not-covered-in-cheese, so I peeled the quesadilla apart and picked the insides out with a fork. The part of this process causing the commotion, I suppose, was that I systematically peeled each crescent of quesadilla apart, ate the insides and any necessary tortilla (so as not to waste any heavenly cheese), and then discarded the unwanted tortilla into a little pile of scraps on my plate.
This is the way I’ve eaten quesadillas since the beginning of time. And I’m sitting here – even now – wondering what in the world is the problem. I’m not a picky eater, and I don’t have weird food aversions. And I don’t insist on THIS restaurant or refuse to eat THERE. When it comes to food, I thought I had all the kinks worked out.
While I defended myself with an unrehearsed, poorly considered monologue, my friends all stared at me. And snickered. They knew they had me. And they went for the kill. I could barely eat the rest of my lovely quesadilla, knowing I would be studied and scrutinized until the check arrived. I stared confused at my plate, replaying the many, many lunches I have shared with these girls. Had they been watching me and wondering this whole time? I asked them – “how long has this been an issue?” They laughed. I tried to give them my “I’m The Normal Friend” theory. They laughed harder.
Is it possible I’m not as normal as I think I am?