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My Greatest Sloth

May 25, 2008

I am a fast human being. That is, I’m quite quick on my feet. Even at the ripe old age of 27, I can outsprint pretty much everyone on the soccer and football fields [Editor’s Note: Caroline wants me quantify this statement by saying that I only play pickup games with random students and foreigners, not professionals]. I used to take quite a bit of pride in this. Now there’s a bit of ego left in me, but mostly I’m just pleased that I’ve kept my speed as I’ve aged. I’m sure some young whippersnapper will challenge me at a pickup game in the future, but for now, I’m happy being the fastest one out there.

On grass, I’m quite speedy. Put a plate of food in front of me, and I’m the slowest person you’ve ever met.

Seriously. It’s getting to be pretty ridiculous how slow of an eater I am. I wish I had a reason or an explanation of this sloth, but I’ve got nothing. I’m just a slow eater. Sometimes Caroline and I will fix separate dinners around the same time. She’ll sit down a few minutes ahead of me, and by the time I’ve settled in at the table and taken a few bites, her plate is empty. That’s twenty minutes into the meal.

Give me a dinner with a group of people, and it’ll be hours before my plate is clean. I often just end up taking food home from restaurants because I feel bad making my friends wait for me. I think part of it is that I like to be an asset to the conversation—even if I don’t have a great story to tell, I’m pretty good at connecting people to relevant stories that other people might have. I could be spending this valuable time masticating, but I prefer good conversation to stomach fullness.

My slow eating condition has become a huge problem at weddings. I just went to my fifth wedding of 2008 the other day, and the pattern seems to be that if there’s a buffet, my table is the last to be served. At the Savannah wedding, as I slowly chewed the last of my fish, I actually asked one of the serving staff if I was the only person still eating. She smiled and nodded. At the Indian wedding I went to in Chicago, people had been bumping and grinding on the dance floor for a good hour by the time I finished my dessert. And at the wedding I attended yesterday, as soon as I finished my plate, the busboy immediately swept away my plate. How long he was standing behind me before that, I don’t know. Quite some time.

Part of the problems at weddings is that I don’t eat appetizers during cocktail hours. I have a few drinks, but eating those sloppy little finger foods is too much for my self-conscious mind to handle. If I eat one, I spend the next 45 minutes wondering if I have food on my face. So I just do without. By the time I get to dinner, I’m really hungry, and yet the pattern seems to be that I have to wait another 45 minutes before getting my food.

Despite the negatives to being a slow eater, people keep telling me that it’s healthy. I have my doubts. I’m a pretty skinny guy who could use some meat on my bones. I would think the goal would be to eat as much food as possible so my stomach doesn’t get the message that it’s full before I’m stuffed. Maybe it’ll help me in the future when all the Popeyes catches up to me and I bloat up to 160 pounds.

Really, what I should do is have some of the fast-twitch muscles in my legs surgically removed and inserted in my jaw. Maybe I’ll slow down a few steps on the soccer field, but at the next wedding, I’ll be the first in line for my after-dinner fuzzy navel.

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