Monday, November 23, 2009
Just the Way 'Grits' Gotta Be
I’m holding a box of grits—cheese grits. They surprised me, when I found them sitting there in my cupboard because I don’t remember purchasing them. As a Carolina girl, it seems nearly heretical for me to admit that grits make me gag. Though somehow, in the grocery store that detail didn’t deter me from being drawn to the photo of glistening corn grounds displayed on the front of the box. By some mistake or impulse, I had dropped the box in my cart and now, here I stand willing to disregard all my previous conclusions and give grits a second chance.
I’ve done this second-chance business multiple times with various other gag stimulators—tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, sushi, yogurt, pears, and peas. Though each time the foods winds up in my napkin or in the trashcan, I’m not afraid to give them a second chance—or a third or a fourth.
As I dump the packet of grits and clumps of cheese into a bowl, it occurs to me that I have a similar practice with people. For some reason, I make arrangements to contact or spend time with people whom I’ve already concluded I dislike, whether for petty differences or major social flaws. Just as with the grits now cooking in the microwave, I always hope that my tastes will have matured enough to accept them beyond the distasteful textures of their personalities, their snobby perceptions of the world, their self-righteous outlook, or debilitating insecurities. Willing to acquire a taste for their company, I grant them a second chance, usually an evening visit at a coffee shop.
When the timer beeps I pull the grits from the microwave. They’re orange and gooey, and I’m eager to taste them. Once they’ve cooled, I place the first warm spoonful in my mouth.
Predictably, the expectation vanishes. The hope for taste bud maturity disappears as my mouth once again rejects their grainy texture and bland corny taste. Everything about the grits makes me regret ever having put them in my mouth.
I force myself to swallow the bite before scraping out the bowl, leaving the gooey blob steaming in the depths of the trash bag, as if begging for another second chance. But I shake my head and go in search of a bagel. I made my decision—from this time forth, grits will not receive another chance to appeal to me. The remaining packages will go to someone else—there are plenty of people who love will them.
As I savor my cream cheese slathered bagel, I make another resolution to cease self-inflicted quality time with people I do not enjoy. I won’t call them, won’t engage their company, and will not feel guilty for doing so. After all, they can always go to someone else—I’m sure there are plenty of other people who will love them.