Monday, December 04, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

This past weekend was a perfect example for me of how trying to be mindful of moderation in eating can go terribly wrong.

My lovely daughters both had cotillion dances, one on Friday and one on Saturday. If you are not familiar with these, which seem to be a uniquely southern American tradition, they are fairly short (1.5 hours) dances wherein young pubescents (11-13 year olds) are schooled in the basics of ballroom dance. As someone said to me on Friday night, they are as much as anything else exercises in supervised touching. They are an excuse for kids to get dressed up and hang out with friends in an environment unlike anything they’re used to, one that begins to approximate the grown up world.

In addition, since it is the holidays, this month’s dance was the so-called “Holly Ball,” during which parents are encouraged to come dressed formally to dance with their son or daughter. It’s a tradition that can seem pretty pretentious and out-of-date or somewhat sweet and special, almost totally depending on mood and execution.

Anyway, for the Friday dance, a parent of one of the girls in my daughters “posse” had organized a post-cotillion reservation at a local restaurant, a chance for the girls to hang out a while longer while all dressed up and gossip intensely about the boys they danced with, etc. etc. I fought like hell to try to get out of this. I was annoyed enough that I was going to have to get dressed up and hang out with a bunch of other guys who all were much more comfortable in tuxes and Italian suit than I was and make small talk. I also didn’t want to give up a night during this season when there are lights to hang, trees to decorate, gifts to buy, and other anxiety-producing activities to bitch about. But, after talking it over with my daughter, we agreed we would go, maybe grab a hot chocolate and then leave. So I imagined the whole thing taking about 30 minutes top.

So I went to the Holly Ball and danced with my lovely daughter and it actually was sweet and special and I was aglow with the sentiments of the season. Then we packed up and drove on down to the restaurant and things went to hell. First off, this restaurant turned out to be the most expensive one in the city, so I’m already imagining my hot chocolate costing $8. Then, it turns out that this organizational parent had actually booked us a guaranteed special-sitting dinner, complete with dessert, wherein they were going to bring us food whether we wanted it or not and it was going to cost $50 per adult and $25 per child. I had the choice at that point to make a mini-scene, embarrass my daughter, and leave or graciously smile and take the blow to my wallet and preconceptions like the wimp that I am. In other words, I was stuck. Defense mechanism #1: order a drink.

Now that I’m already pissed, it ends up taking the restaurant nearly an hour to take our orders and than an additional 30 minutes to bring us the first course (of a three course meal). My half-hour jaunt becomes a two and a half-hour slog, waiting for incredibly expensive food that I didn’t want to arrive as if delivered from Detroit via pony express. I had visions of eating the salad, having a bite or two of the main course and passing completely on the dessert. As things unfolded and my aggravation grew, there was no way I wasn’t going to eat it all (oh, and another drink please waiter. Could I have that before next Tuesday?)

The Saturday night fiasco was different but no less frustrating. We had planned for some good friends to come over for dinner on Saturday, not factoring in the details of my oldest daughter’s cotillion. With the excitement of our friends’ arrival, our new puppy pees three times in the house within a half-hour span. When we finally calm her down, my oldest begins her prep work for cotillion, resulting in much heartache and consternation because she’s fat, neither of her dresses look right, she doesn’t have the right makeup and her face is breaking out. We finally get her out the door so she can have dinner with her friends but, since she was running ½ hour late, I only have about ½ hour to hang out with my friends before I have to get dressed and out the door to meet my daughter at the dance and do my time with her.

Luckily, there isn’t any post-dance shindig but the dance itself makes me feel like shit. It’s largely a result of the contrast of hanging out with our friends – younger, hipper, smarter versions of my wife and I who are a little earthy-crunchy, a little liberal intellectual, a little middle-class angsty – and hanging out at cotillion with guys who all make 6 figures, own tuxedoes, and are the types of upper management honchos that I was supposed to be by the time I hit my mid-forties. I end up feeling like an older crankier twenty-something who is going to be stuck contemplating big questions and my navel until I wake up and realize I’m 60 and the essential big questions have whittled down to “what city can I retire to where my rheumistism won’t act up?”

So after the dance I head back home and, since our friends have been decent enough to stick around even with my one hour disappearance, I do them the courtesy of drinking too much and eating everything left on the dinner table that they left behind, including some incredibly rich peppermint patty brownies.

The upshot of all of this is that, instead of weighing in this past weekend comfortably on the good side of my WW goal weight so that I can coast through the holidays and not worry about getting in the ballpark until the end of January, I wake up Sunday straddling that goal weight line. And, as soon as I kick this funk I’m now in, I’ll have to get back on the wagon and be a good WW core eater for a week or two so I can make weight before Chanukah rolls around.

Certainly my life still doesn’t suck. But still, that sense of best laid plans being whittled away until they are totally laid to waste kind of sucks. Back to the salad bar…