Spaghetti Drama (He Said) . . .

And now, 24-hours later, comes MY side of the story that was written (and not edited since) several months ago. I didn't have the courage to post it until we were joking about this one evening last week and decided it would be fun to share our "sides" to this same story.

It is implied/presumed that THIS version is the RIGHT version of the story (I kid, I kid). But . . . seriously.

 Here we go . . .

Anyone who KNOWS me knows that I'm a very particular person with lots of quirks and oddities and a lot, lot, lot of anxiety that is never, ever expressed in normal, healthy, constructive ways. More likely four letter expletives and overly-grand hand gestures and body contortions - ALL bark, ZERO bite (lest any of you fear the relatively safety of the women and pets I live with). So it might come as NO surprise that the days and hours before a half marathon might be rough on me, mentally, and those around me, in every way.

And by hours I mean the week leading-up-to. At least. Forget the day before. Forget the 16 or 14 hours prior to. Forget when FOOD (my real love - mwah, mwah, mwah) is involved. But somehow, the other night, I found myself at the intersection of anxious, confused, and frustrated and at odds with one of my favorite people in the world. What happened? Dinner.

We had the kiddo this weekend and I was trying to prepare for my race. There were no long runs on Saturday or any other distractions (that I would take the bait on) to reel me in. I was just trying, instead, to avoid any and all interactions with my fellow humans while somehow bending the space/time continuum and getting this stupid race over. But - try as I might - I do not (YET) have the powers to make that happen so we did a lot of just sitting around and walking on eggshells. One more inevitable thing happened . . . we had to eat dinner.

SLF, always the wonderful person, took the initiative to get the party started. And she asked a very open-ended question "Does anyone have any thoughts on dinner?" Now, for me, I take that as "Does anyone have any cravings, wants, or desires?" NOT "Does anyone want to run through a comprehensive list of the foods that can and will not eat on the off chance I decide to prepare said meal?" So I shouted back "Nah, follow your heart." The kid, true to form, just ignored the question.

Fast forward about fifteen minutes and the our house equivalent to the chuck wagon triangle bell rang and we headed toward the kitchen. To my great horror two things awaited me:
  1. SLF made the completely cliche choice (and I love her for it) of going PASTA for dinner the night before the race. Carb-loading. Ha. Bless her heart. FYI - NOT true, NOT helpful, don't be that guy/gal when running.
  2. She not only made pasta (still laughing at her expense) but she made it even better by teasing it out to one of the handful of foods that, should she asked for a comprehensive list of all the foods they will not eat, would have made the list. TOPPED the list, no less.
Let me clarify - as a high schooler I was in the Boy Scouts (earned my Eagle Scout and some palms but sent it all back because, well, homophobic organizations are not something I want to be part of) and we would have "Spaghetti Dinners" for fundraisers. You know the type . . . all you can eat with low-grade, cheap ingredients, white sandwich bread and margarine on the tables, and salad that consisted of iceberg lettuce and Italian dressing, and over-eating for all. Delicious. Perfection.

I, always more in love with food than myself, ate the pasta and meat sauce until I got actually, physically ill. Never again. Literally. This was probably 1990/1991 and I - nearly 25 years later - had not done the same. I'm okay with lasagnas (no more with the meat) or other pasta dishes with meat but long strands of pasta with meat sauce and sprinkle cheese . . . sweating just typing about it.

Now THIS is where my anxiety and the night before a race and my love for SLF all overlap and I get overwhelmed, mentally. So I do the only thing that I THINK will go over smooth as silk . . . I decline dinner. I say I want nothing. I decline the meal. I try to remove myself. 

This, for those of you looking to have more mature, open, emotionally available relationships in your life, is NOT the only safe answer. Turns out there is no safe answer. I realize, immediately, that I'm in trouble. I really can't figure out why or how but it is obvious that I am. SLF does the thing she always does when she's annoyed (similar to dogs that have knocked over the trash only without guilt - but RAGE - as her motivator) . . . she gets really quiet and avoids eye contact. I feel bad. I feel for her. I want her to know she's appreciated (since I failed to let her know I didn't want her to cook for me/us at all).

So there is grumbling and counter-grumbling done and I decide that I should be a bigger person (or try to catch up with the person she is) and I fill a bowl with pasta and meat sauce and endeavor upon eating my race prep dinner. This sounds selfless but presume the aforementioned profanities and body tosses are in the mix. I look 12. I feel 11. I'm embarrassed for all three of us. For a solid hour I poke with my fork and chew and swallow - every bite making me sweaty and angstful and queasy. I truly want to vomit but, because of a surgery years ago vomiting is not easy for me. It hurts. A LOT. 

So I wait for the proverbial coast to clear . . . SLF offers to put the munchkin to bed (if only to get away from me for a few minutes) and I run to the first floor bathroom and indulge my urges to give my pasta back to the Great Powers of the World. And it is horrible and my eyes are watering and my body hurts and I have all the sweating and aching. I come out of the bathroom and - boom - there is SLF pretending like sound doesn't carry in our house like guns on gangsters. 

We ignore each other for a few more hours and we decided to go to bed (I think I said I was going and she essentially followed - silently (like in gangster movies when the guy begs for his life and the enforcer just gestures with his gun to move it along)). We're still not talking. NO reason to (again - I'm not sure why she's so angry but I feel guilty so I'm not pressing the issue). We end up in bed. Our queen sized bed. We're maybe six inches apart from each other (at our most bulbous) and I want to talk with her and apologize (and find out why she is so angry) but I'm aware that I have a half marathon in a few hours and these things are uncertain (how long to resolve, what is said, etc.) and I just threw up and I'm realizing that I've had no real food in hours and hours and hours. 

I text her (yep - I'm THAT GUY) a good night wish and some other crap and I hear her phone beep and I hear her look at it and I hear her put her phone back down with a pissy sigh. Oh love. Aren't you grand?

I get up the next morning. I eat a protein bar. I get a banana. I head out. I wait in the chute. I run 13.1 miles and there - at the finish line - are the two most important women in my life and they are all smiles and congratulatory messaging and hugs. I do the thing I always do at the finish line of a race . . . sob and bawl the ugly tears. It seemed like things were vaguely better. But cool, none-the-less. We headed off to a celebratory lunch and I explained my long, sordid history with pasta and meat sauce.

Then, about 48 hours later, it was back to normal. Life was good. For now (gulp).

I love this woman. I love that she loves me. I love that she wanted to make me dinner. I love that, come October, she won't even bother. I love all that. And if that is the only good to come out of this - we all win.