Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I am sick of making decisions. Light blue or robin’s egg blue? Iridescent gold overlay tablecloths or opaque bronze? And it is not just about wedding-related choices; it is the multitude of decisions I have to make each day in ordinary life. From the moment we stumble out of bed in the morning, deciding how we want our coffee and what outfit to wear, should we take the subway to work or walk – to the larger and more important decisions which we make daily in our business lives; our days are a knotted-ball rolled up of thousands of choices. Eventually, it can be overwhelming.
“I can’t decide,” I said to M as we tried to pick a cake for our wedding. Scrolling through hundreds of pictures of icing and flower covered cakes, two tier to massive ten-tier versions complete with a structurally sound support system of columns and beams, covered with lilacs and hydrangeas – a full garden atop a white mound of calorie-saturated dough; they all began to look the same. “We can do Swiss meringue buttercream icing with a white chocolate cake or, oh wait, how about scalloped ribbons made of fondant piping a French vanilla-bean exterior covered with nosegays and roses?” The pastry chef explained all of the options that were available, his description and excitement as gooey and as sweet as the icing.
I hate cake. A Ho-Ho or a Ding Dong or a friggin Twinkie, I do not care. It's not a life or death decision, it's friggin cake. I am just not a dessert person, leaving the expression “have your cake and eat too” to be that much more insignificant and illogical to me. I don’t want my cake and I don’t want to eat it. But faced with the endless array of wedding cake options, I turned to the caterer and said, “Just make it white and give me the cheapest option.” My father smiled for the first time during the wedding planning process.
My lack of desire to make decisions has taken over the entirety of my life. “You decide,” I said to M as we tried to pick a restaurant to have dinner with our friends. “I’ll go wherever.” My opinionated and selective nature has been muted – almost shut down entirely as I look to others to make the determination. I just want to go with the flow and have decisions made for me. M, happy to take the reigns, selected Café D’Alsace for dinner. Having perused the menu online at work, he emailed me his menu selection for the evening by mid-afternoon. “I can’t wait ‘til dinner,” he exclaimed.
At the restaurant, M confirmed his selections, “Do you think I should get the Roasted Cod. I think that’s what I want. Yep,” he said as he glanced at the list of entrees, “that is definitely what I am getting.” He closed his menu and took a sip of his martini. “What are you going to get? Get something which I like so I can try it.” He was a kid in a candy shop.
When the waiter finally got to me for my order, M waited with bated breath to see what I would say. “You know what,” I said to the waiter, “Just surprise me.”
And that he did ---- with an amazing dish that I never would have ordered on my own. I didn’t have to make a decision, I didn’t have to weigh options, ponder what I was really in the mood for or have second thoughts after I placed my order. “Oh, wait, maybe I should have gotten the steak,” M said regretfully re-thinking his earlier selection.
Ever since that night, I have been leaving my menu choices to the waiters/waitresses every time we go out to dinner. And no, they hardly ever bring me the most expensive option on the menu nor do they bring something odd like chicken gizzards and gravy. Usually it is something that wouldn’t have jumped off the page at me, something I would overlook, but inevitably something which I am so thrilled to have tried.
Certainly life is free will, but every so often, it is amazing to relinquish that in the world of dining out on the Upper East Side.
Posted by Carrie Gross Pestronk at 9:13 AM