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No that is not from some wisecracking character in a mobster movie. Nor from a femme fatale in a hardboiled detective novel. Nor did it come from an internet list of sayings roguishly attributed to some military hero who fought in three world wars. It’s not even out of a beer commercial where a bearded guru offers sage sounding but meaningless advice.
It can’t quite be attributed to my wife.
I had finished breakfast and was sipping my coffee at the kitchen table while reading the newspaper. I was semi-aware of my wife walking back and forth several times. I was focused on the news, deliberate in my sips, weighty in my meditations as I read.
All of a sudden my wife stops and facing me with her hands on her hips impatiently says, “When are you getting up? Why do you eat fast and drink slow?”
I was taken aback. Obviously she wanted to get me out of the kitchen. Perhaps she needed the entire kitchen table. Perhaps she wanted the newspaper herself.
I folded the newspaper, got up slowly with the cup of coffee in my hand, and said, “Here.” I let her have the table, and as I walked out of the kitchen I said, “I drink slow because I want to savor the flavor.”
Which got me thinking. It’s true. I eat fast. It’s been a point of discussion numerous times over our thirty-year marriage. She says it’s not healthy to eat fast. She says it will catch up with me. She says it will lead to heartburn, bloated intestines, a freaked-out nervous system, constipation, maybe even cancer or a heart attack. In thirty years it hasn’t happened. Well, sometimes I do get heartburn.
But why is it I eat fast? I can understand drinking slow. As I said drinking slow allows one to relish in the liquid’s essence; it lets the bouquet caress the palate. A wonderful cup of coffee in the morning. A glass of cabernet at dinner time. A whiskey in the evening. Man was made to contemplate fine liquids.
Was he made to contemplate fine vittles? I don’t know. Perhaps eating brings out the inner wolf in me? I can be a ravenous beast swallowing an entire plate in one gulp. Perhaps I just prefer food hot? Eating fast gets it across the tongue before it gets tepid. Or perhaps eating fast is a psychosomatic reflex of a fast-paced day where the momentum of rapid daily activities carries over to the dinner table? I don’t know.
Or perhaps I don’t eat fast at all. “Where is the data that I eat fast?” I ought to ask my wife. (I won’t because if I do she’ll find a way to twist it against me.) Perhaps it’s she that eats slow. And she does. I’m finished and waiting, trying not to be rude to get up, and she’s still not even halfway. Maybe she eats slow because she’s overly concerned with getting heartburn, or bloated intestines, or a freaked-out nervous system, or constipation. Here I am finished and sipping something while she nibbles slowly. All the while I’m hearing Brett Baier and some talking head on FoxNews discussing the demise of the country. I need to get over and watch. And she’s nibbling away slower than a church mouse.
And so, this is not her quote. No. The quote may not be all that profound—it has all the calories of a head of lettuce—but it’s my quote. Eat fast and drink slow, my friends.Published in