As I sit here (on my couch, alone, with no pants on) catching up on my Bachelorette epies, I can't help but think, "Damn, that date in that castle is fawnsay. Where did that food come from? What if I were the Bachelorette? Where would my food come from?" Valid question, I suppose. Especially since real life, not-in-a-castle, first dates also make me ask that question. Where will my food come from?
I don't know about you guys, but even without celiac disease first dates make my insides feel like they're running a marathon through my body that I did not ask for. Ohhhhh, the first date. The beginning. The start. The first.
You want to look good. You want to smell good. You want to feel good. You want your outfit to be cool/cute/sexy/"you" but not like you care too much. You want to make the right jokes and say the right things and overall just be the very best version of yourself because this is it. The first date. This is the one where you pull out your best stuff and leave all of your repetitive, daily, internal insecurities at your apartment because you are going out. On a date...
at a restaurant...
or a bar...
Oh yeah, and you have celiac disease and can never escape it and whoever you marry/date/make out with will have to deal with it or you're completely screwed for x amount of hours until you recover and what if they don't like gluten free pasta? or rice? or I don't know, not eating McDonald's for every meal and why oh WHY does every social situation have to revolve around food and drinks?
So yeah, here's to first dates! How do you feel now?
A few months ago I went on a first date and was, well, overwhelmed. Like all great love stories, he and I met in a bar where my Captain and Cokes seemed completely normal and not indicative of disease at all (little did I know, the only other person he knew who drank rum was gluten free… so that blows that theory…).
The point of complete panic took over a couple of days after he got my number. The text went something like this:
"Hey, Lauren. Would you like to have dinner with me on Monday night?"
Remember that marathon happening with my insides? On steroids.
When I received this text my thoughts went like this:
D) Oh God, am I going to have to explain "gluten free" via TEXT message??
E) There's no way I'm getting out of this without sounding completely high maintenance
My response: "That'd be great! Where are you thinking?"
Cool, totally normal, nothing alarming or hinting at the fact that I have an irreparable intestinal issues.
Him: "I don't know yet. Trying to figure that out now."
OKAY. This is good. I can work with this. I'll just suggest someplace where I can eat. Boom, done.
Me: "Maybe Beer Kitchen or McCoy's?"
Him: "How about Lulu's?"
A) Wtf, he didn't take my suggestion? Ballsy.
B) Thank GOD he picked one of my five "okay" restaurants. That was lucky.
C) Okay. Calm down. Step 1 = done.
Monday night came around, and I'll just skip to the moment when we sat down at the restaurant. Waters hit the table. Menus follow, and then - I did it. I just did it. I bit the bullet, took the plunge and with no warning and (hopefully) no hesitancy politely asked for a gluten free menu.
The seconds that followed felt like slow motion. I sheepishly smiled at him. He looked at me back with kind and curious eyes, and the conversation happened. The one that I've had with dozens of people and will have with so many more, but in that moment this robotic, practiced speal became the most honest, vulnerable and important conversation I could have with this man before me.
I have to eat differently than you. I'm one of those "gluten free" people, but like, for real. For my medicine. I'm sure it doesn't seem like a big deal right now, or maybe it does and you have a kick ass poker face, but put aside my cute outfit and flirty eyes because this date has to get super real.
And it did, but only briefly. He asked a few, genuine questions about my health, and before I knew it those slow motion seconds were back in real time. We'd moved on to talking about our families, favorite movies, music and so on. Did I perhaps mention that when I get married I won't demand to have an all gluten-free home but will keep separate pots and pans identified by different colors so my family can enjoy Cheez-Its while I munch on Nut Thins? Yes, maybe. But I had to throw a little psycho in there somewhere, or I wouldn't be me.
So why was that so stressful? Every relationship requires a healthy dose of gut-wrenching personal exposure, but when you have celiac disease that spotlight shines bright within the first four minutes of entering any establishment. And on a first date, when the internal running man is sprinting at full speed and the risk of rejection is already abnormally high, being honest about your body, your needs and your life takes courage (see where I previously failed at this).
I recently read this Thought Catalog article about the worst things ever revealed on a first date. And yeah, no surprise there, some asshat degraded the gluten-free. But this just proves how nerve-wracking claiming your truth can be. There's always some bozo with a prejudice without merit. Disease or no disease everyone has something they're worried you're going to vote them off the island for, be it "revealed" in the first date or not.
So be kind, dear world. Be kind on your first dates. And only hate on the "gluten-free" girl if she asks for a GF menu and then eats the whole bread basket (KIDDING).
Bachelorette or not, figure out where your food is coming from on your first dates as confidently as you can. Because it's likely to help you figure out if you'll want to go out for a second.