This is an on-going weird thought, one I’ve had to years. And it seems to be an issue I don’t share with many other people in my family.
I’ve always had a problem with classical music and Shakespeare. I used to think that my issues with these two icons of good taste meant that I was just uncultured and a Luddite (although the Luddites were not actually uncultured they just didn’t like change). But over time, and after having seen Shakespeare plays and experienced live classical music, I think I know why I do not ‘do’ classical music and Shakespeare. It isn’t because I can’t appreciate the finer arts humankind has created, it’s an all-or-nothing thing issue that I have. If you are going to listen to classical music, you need to listen to classical music. If you are going to experience Shakespeare then you have to be there and have Shakespeare delivered to you. You can’t just read it in bed or on the train. It’s just not the same.
This man touches the heart, but only in person
Equally, I can’t just listen to classical music in the car, or house and NEVER at low volume. It is just not the same. It doesn’t move me. It doesn’t excite me. Whereas listening to classical music at the Barclaycard Arena moves me and the experience is all-encompassing. I feel it in my toes as well as my belly. I don’t feel anything listening to classical music in the kitchen at home. In fact, in that context it is completely yawnsville.
I’ve tried to read Shakespeare for pleasure but it doesn’t work for me. My mind drifts if I try. I can’t absorb the words. I don’t feel the emotion. I’ve seen Shakespeare performed and felt myself swept away on the wave of drama and emotion. Why can’t I recreate that feeling at home? It is quite expensive to be afflicted so.
You had to be there
I guess that means that great music, great literature, great art and the like can only be truly experienced first hand. At least, that is the case for me. I’m not a Luddite, I’m a fussy so-and-so. Just like my egg on toast has to be cooked in a certain way.
Like buses, the weird thoughts arrive in quick succession. This is my second today.
This is actually a thought I had last Sunday when my family and I decided that it would be novel to have breakfast at Frankie and Benny’s instead of in our house. It was actually my husband’s idea. As we were lying in bed that morning enjoying the bliss that is Sunday mornings he proposed leaping out of bed, getting dressed, and driving to the nearest Frankie and Benny’s for breakfast. I had no reasonable argument against his proposition, so jump I did.
Upon arrival at Frankie and Benny’s we were treated very well and very efficiently. We were quickly seated and handed menus. Twice, while we were perusing the menus, we were asked if we were ready to order yet. Everyone was, except me. The reason: I am a very fussy eater. I am a Sally. I know what I like and I know how to create it. People in restaurants do not.
This is what I wanted:
The lighter breakfast.
What I wanted to eat but…
However, I didn’t want what was on offer, exactly. I wanted to swap the scrambled eggs for a fried egg and the sausage for beans. I also wanted toast. I only wanted one rasher of bacon and I wanted that bacon to be crispy.
What I chose:
The full monty
I ordered the Big Breakfast with a side of toast. I went for this rather than the lighter breakfast partly because I didn’t want to do a Sally in Frankie and Benny’s and embarrass my family and also I reasoned that I’d get all of what I wanted plus some and I could palm off the bits I didn’t want on my children.
However, when my order arrived I had a few problems with it. There was nothing wrong with the meal if you analyse it objectively. It was exactly as expected. However, it wasn’t what I wanted. For a start, the plate was too big and there was far too much food on it. I really don’t like being given more than I can eat. That makes me quite cross. Also, the bacon was a bit oily for me and not quite crispy enough (there was also too much of it). The sausage was big and too herby (I don’t like herbs in my sausages). The portion of baked beans was too small and in a dish (why?). There were too many herby potatoes. The fried egg was wrong too: the egg white was overcooked and the yolk undercooked. The side order of toast consisted of brown toast when I’d prefer white. It wasn’t toasted enough. It wasn’t hot enough. There was too much of it.
I also ordered an orange juice to drink. This was also wrong. The orange juice came with a tonne of ice. I don’t like ice in my orange juice. The ice melts and the orange juice tastes watery. I hadn’t been asked (as happens in a pub) whether I wanted ice or not. If I had been asked I would of course had said no. I felt cross that nobody asked me. I took all of the ice out in a huff.
So after my food arrived I puffed and powted my way through my breakfast, ungrateful wench that I am. It was just so wrong!
However, the experience of a family breakfast in Frankie and Benny’s was pleasant enough to make it a future good memory. I hope they don’t remember how awkward I was.
Today, my husband kindly offered to make me breakfast and I requested my new favourite breakfast: one single fried egg on two slices of toast with a slither of cheese between the egg and toast and Heinz BBQ sauce on top. However, I failed to specify to him (he hadn’t made this to me before) exactly how I wanted this cooked and served and I had to intervene.
I had failed to tell him that I don’t like much cheese on the toast. I need very little in fact. In addition, the cheese should be sliced wafer thinly. The butter should be applied to the toast as soon as the toast comes out of the toaster so that it melts perfectly into the toast. The BBQ sauce should not, under any circumstances, go on the buttered toast. That is wrong on all levels. Half way through the cooking of the egg a sprinkle of oregano and ground pepper should be added to the egg. This shouldn’t be added too early or too late or it won’t taste right. The BBQ sauce should be dribbled over the egg only, and only when, the egg has been added to the toast. This meal should always be served with a small (not large) glass of orange juice. No ice of course. Then, and only then, has this dish reached perfection.
My egg on toast does not look anything like this.
He did good though. And I was sure to tell him.
I know that I can be a complete Sally sometimes with food. But I just know what I like and that’s not a bad thing, is it?
Yesterday my husband put the following status on facebook:
We had one egg left when the Sainsburys delivery arrived. I was secretly pleased to find a broken egg in the new box because it left me with an even number again.
There’s no hope, is there?
Does this make you anxious?
This status generated 24 comments (a nice even number) concerning his mental health and the pros and cons of even vs odd.
Or does this make you anxious?
He likes symmetry (in eggs and other things). He likes even numbers. He likes straight lines. He likes clear spaces. He wants his socks in pairs. He likes his t-shirts to be perfectly ironed and neatly arranged, evenly, in the drawer (he would be employee of the year if he worked for GAP). If I let him iron my tights and fold them neatly, he would.
To him, cushions, like eggs, should come in even numbers and there should only be two of them, evenly spaced on the sofa. Just as he can’t cope with there being a fewer or greater than even number of eggs in the egg box, he likes the cushions to be partnered.
If a room in a building leans to the side, he feels queasy. We used to live in a 300-year old house. He was surprisingly tolerant of its wonkiness.
As for me, I love wonkiness. I loved our 300-year old house and it’s quirks. I think there aren’t enough cushions in the world and they should be allowed to fall any which way, the more sporadic the better. As for eggs? I don’t even notice whether we have an odd or even number of eggs left.
His clothes are arranged logically and neatly. My wardrobe looks like a jumble sale.
Beautifully ironed t-shirts
So in response to his facebook status, my weird thought today is twofold.
Firstly, are there people who sit between these two extremes (and I do think we are both quite extreme in this regard)? Can you be a little bit tidy or a little bit messy?
Spot the messy person’s wardrobe
Secondly, are we attracted to each other’s opposites as an acknowledgement that we don’t feel entirely comfortable with our ‘funny ways’? Are we, by living together, trying to find a place somewhere in the middle? In other words, are we both in fact quite self-aware of the deviance in our personalities? Perhaps we are looking for the other to help loosen / tighten us up. I think this is the case. I know that he gets frustrated at my ‘funny ways’ at times but I also know that he still finds them endearing (or at least I hope so). I find his love of order very admirable and I see that some of it, over the years, has rubbed off on me (although I do have the fight the urge to swap his socks around just for fun).
I haven’t yet got to the stage where I write cheque stubs but I do think that writing a shopping list is A Good Idea.
Eggs are on the list
As for eggs? I’ll try to care more, or at least hide the odd egg from him if we are uneven to save him from anxiety.