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Monday, January 9, 2012

Food and Growing Up


 This weekend we saw the movie Young Adult. I enjoyed it much more and laughed much harder than I probably should have. I'm turning 30 next month, and to me this character really hit home in that she sounded like half of my friends (of course if you ignore the whole over-the-top-crazy thing). Some people come up with names for their future children when they are 8 years old, get married right out of college at age 22, and don't understand at all people who don't want kids. Some people, on the other hand, are well into their 30s, wear Hello Kitty shirts, gulp Maker's Mark, and refer to babies as "it". The first group of people think that the second group just need to meet the right person, have a couple of kids and settle down, but the truth is that if this character (as a member of the second group) had a kid she would probably treat it as negligently as she treats that poor little dog of hers.

I thought that it was interesting the way food was treated in this movie. She wakes up in the morning and swigs a liter of Diet Coke straight from the bottle. She eats Lean Cuisine, KFC, or nothing at all for long periods of time. This reminded me so much of myself as a single woman (without the whole trying to get back with my high school boyfriend thing). I would eat a box of chocolate eclairs for dinner (discussed here), Campbell's Tomato Soup, or skip most meals all together. The character in this movie is basically the equivalent of a teenager whose parents have gone away for the weekend, except she just happens to be 37 years old. She gets Ben and Jerry's from the gas station and can't even wait until she gets back to her hotel room to start eating it straight from the carton. Hilarious. I remember when my friend and I turned 25, and we were talking on the phone and the thing that made us feel more grown up than when we were in our early twenties was going grocery shopping. She said that the couple of years before that she only bought beer and chips, but after turning 25 she was going to the store to buy bread and mayonnaise, and she thought that made her feel much more grown up. I tell you - nothing in the world made me feel more grown up than table linens - wanting them, getting them, using them, even just touching them in the store. Perhaps that feeling was because they were all wedding presents, but I think it was also the thought that I could someday serve a meal classy enough to deserve place mats and linen napkins.

Everyone has different preferences as to how traditional they want to be as an adult, whether they want kids, a 9-5 job, or even a long term relationship (and in what time frame). What makes this character seem like a teenager is that she doesn't take any responsibility for cleanliness, health, nutrition or any of the ways her actions might affect any other people. I think all those things combined are part of what makes caring about food seem grown up. There's something grown up about feeding other people, probably because a host is supposed to be considerate of the needs of others. There's something grown up about eating regular meals (not like this), and vegetables (you will not see even one leaf of spinach in this movie).

The movie had problems, but the first hour was freaking hilarious. She does what she wants. She's grossed out by babies. She never grew up, but to me there was something liberating about watching it. Who wouldn't want to be able to go eat at KFC and not feel guilty? I have a 9-5 job and probably act reasonably grown up, but would I like to drive around listening to 90s music, eat some horribly unhealthy fried food and watch some trashy TV once in a while? Sure! This movie to me was a good time.

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