I hate you, Harry.
When Harry Met Sally
is one of my favorite movies. It doesn't quite fit with Kill Bill Vol. 2
and The Usual Suspects
, but it fits me. It’s a great addition to my ultra masculine, uber violent collection. But it makes sense. Because I am Sally. In more ways than I'd like to admit in a crowd of man folk.
My girl friends know. That my ETA is at least 20 minutes after I confirm. I don't feel bad about being late. I have hair. Lots of it. Men don't notice that, though. They don't see that I try on 12 outfits before I leave the house or that I exfoliate my skin at least three times a week. They've never seen the routine way I put lotion on after showers and the meticulous way I paint my toe nails under a shadeless lamp that I've tailored for the best lighting. Nope. They don't even know that exists.
But there are select times when I am weak, vulnerable and susceptible to exposing my green, slimy scales – for example, when ordering a sandwich.
I ask for no tomato, light mayo, and yellow mustard. On wheat. Oh, and pepper jack cheese. But if there isn't any, provolone is just fine. If I get the provo rejection, I smile, fold up my menu, hand it to the server, and reassure them that cheddar will do. I choose fried potatoes above fruit or slaw sides. Well, depending on the slaw. If it's Asian slaw, count me in. Otherwise, I'm geared for fries. I get an enchanted look on my face if they're the crunchy, hearty steak variety. In which case, I ask for ranch dressing on the side. Sometimes I remember to ask if they have rye rather than wheat. I like the look on servers' faces upon this dangling last request. They turn around and nod then give me a stern "Can I walk away now?" expression. At which point I decide to let him or her make an extra trip when they return because they forgot to refill my water glass.
What can I say? I don't settle for anything but the best.
Some would call this practice high maintenance. I imagine myself ordering a sandwich and get a good, clean visual of Sally ordering her pie in the diner as Harry watches her bewildered. He watches her with disgusted intrigue - the way a kid looks at his parents kissing in public. "Is that what that's supposed to be like? Gross." Yet, kids and Harrys the world over keep looking and wondering because some feats are too miraculous to turn away from.
Anyone who sees me order a sandwich sees me at my finest. My richest. My truest. I want every sandwich I buy to taste the way it was intended to: my way. I don’t necessarily endorse Burger King (since the demise of their formerly gargantuan Whopper sandwich), but I believe in their philosophy. It's an empowering motto. I root for any corporation that gives me free reign to have it my way. Being that they leave the Whopper at its proper size and price. I take BK with me everywhere I go. I have it my way because I can. Because I am paying for that sandwich. And most certainly because you're a server, so what's it matter to you if I hate Dijon mustard? If I know that there are the resources to build the sandwich of my lunch dreams, why would I pass up the offering?
Some people settle for the first opportunity presented to them. Some people consider themselves low maintenance because they're more than happy to eat a sandwich with American on it even though there's Cheddar out back. Well I'm not some people. And I'm not high maintenance, either. I'm high quality. High prioritizing. High on the perfect sandwich. Because it's out there. I wonder why people are so surprised by my ordering ritual. I don't have the key to hidden treasure. I have what anyone can have, and while it seems complicated, it isn't. It only looks complicated because servers don't listen the first time around and need to be reminded of things.
"Don't forget that I want the lettuce on the side, thanks."
The huffing and puffing of those who sit near in embarrassment doesn't lessen my drive to enjoy all that I give myself. I guess my motto is that it's never safe to assume that another person in the world will know how I want things. Other people don't know what makes me tick. Subsequently, I list it out for them and make them repeat it back. It's no mystery that if a woman wants something, if a man wants something, or if anyone wants something... that they can only rely on their own determination to get it.
My determination is both my strength and my flaw. While I tend to be the person at the lunch table without a complaint in the world once dining commences, I cannot boast in all aspects of my determined self-serving life. I expect that all things will come my way and that the world is my resource to continually tap into. That sandwiches need tweaking. And well... that people do, too. And by people, I mean men.
Men cannot be ordered like sandwiches. There is no perfect arrangement. I repeat: There is no perfect arrangement. I can't order one without neediness with a side of humorous jealousy. I can't objectify men I don't know with labels like American cheese guy or Pepper Jack cheese guy. I can't ask the waiter to give me an extra spread of intellectual snobbery and also ask him to hold the poor sense of personal style. Sometimes the lettuce comes soggier than you'd like. Sometimes you have to make due and throw that lettuce between the slices with gratitude - at least you got rye this time.
It's always a toss up. In Burger King, in restaurants, in retail stores, at the library, in the hair salon, in the presence of my amiably submissive friends... I can have it my way. I've grown accustomed to this lifestyle. I'm spoiled emotionally and wrecked mentally. I look at men puzzled. Dissatisfied. Uninterested. I didn't order a turkey on white. I never will. So why do I have to constantly put myself through the hassle of asking the server to bring out what I want? What I ordered. What I've properly arranged in my head as the ideal sandwich. I mean, man.
In the restaurant of life, I can't have the man I want because he doesn't exist. The world does not cater men by the platter for me. Which is okay, I suppose. There'd be no stake in love or relationships if we were simply given everything we wanted on the first try. If we were to pick the eye color of our prince charming then slap something on him like a cuddling fetish. That'd be boring. I guess the whole "happiness is a journey not a destination" bullshit applies. I hate to be such a motivational poster about things, but I need a little cheese now and again. The white kind. With peppers and jacks and spicy goodness.
I wish I wasn't like Sally. I wish I could make the most out of any sandwich and call it a lunch. I wish I could meet a man and look at his big picture, order him plain, and not beg for side additives, like more personality and less fidgeting. Gestalt's principles have never been a favorite of mine. I don't consider a man whole unless he has all of the parts I want. It's difficult to understand that women allow men with only half the parts to be their whole world. Maybe I'm too happy to give up on the hope of cutting him out like a cookie then eating him up. All in one sitting.
I can't submit to any man who isn't all of a man. I don't speak a language of chances and tries. My comprehension level of fixer-uppers and maybe next times is too low to even engage with a half-man. I send sandwiches back if the mayo isn't light. You better believe I'll send a man back if he isn't what I ordered. I'm not asking for a free lunch, I'm asking for a happy life. I'm determined to be happy, and since the only person who knows what I want is me, I better pick and choose according to what does and does not rock my strange little boat.
I'm not high maintenance. Really, I'm not. I let other people pick movies and at the same time can make decisions for groups when being democratic fails. I don't mind getting my hands dirty. I'll put on a sweatshirt before asking someone to turn up the heat. I'm a good girl with good intentions. Sally wanted her pie warmed up. I want my sandwich on rye.
Then again I think of Sally's end result. A strange, short, eccentric, unattractive man named Harry. She got her pie and ate it too. But she didn't order a Harry. I haven’t either. Whoever he is, f he can make me forget that I actually ordered something else like a Jim or a Tom, he'll be something new. He'll be a miracle. I'm praying someone like him exists - this him that is fragmented yet whole in his own way. This him that will stand before me and demand to spend the rest of his life with me even though he knows I ordered a different sandwich. Maybe this is the perfect sandwich man. The one that isn't everything I set out for but knows he's the right sandwich for me. The one that will make me fold up the menu and say "Screw Pepper Jack. American ain't so bad."
The one that will tell me he loves me. For the rest of his life. Because I’m his ideal sandwich. So I can have everything I want, look him in the eyes, submit to love, and tearfully say "I hate you, Harry."