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Mostly Whole Wheat

August 21, 2013

When I was in law school, the building I lived in was owned by the school and everyone who lived there was a student. The apartments weren’t the nicest — they looked like the apartment Robert Blake lived in on Baretta — but this was San Francisco, and I was paying $600 a month for a place that would have gone for $1500 on the open market, so the two-burner stove, spongy carpeting, and steam heat radiator were a fair trade. One day in my third year, I was in the lobby waiting for the elevator and my classmate Rudy came in with several bags of groceries on a moving cart. This wasn’t unusual; we were in the middle of the city and usually had to park at least a couple of blocks away so people were always hauling stuff in and out on those carts. Rudy and I were friendly, though not what I’d call friends. We lived in the same building, worked on Law Review together, and took a few of the same classes. We would often make small talk about things of mutual interest, like the Restatement of Employment Law or Celebrity Deathmatch. On this day, I happened to notice that one of his bags contained five loaves of bread. Ordinarily, I would not comment on what food a person is buying or eating because I think that’s rude, but Rudy lived alone and I guess I was surprised by how much bread he was buying so I blurted it out before thinking.

“That’s a lot of bread.” I said.

Rudy’s face immediately went dark and he said nothing. I better fix this, I thought.

“Hey! Do you ever go to the farmer’s market on Wednesday?” The farmer’s market was held across the street from our building.

“Yes.” He still looked mad.

“There’s a baker there who sells bread.” Oh my god, shut up about the bread already. “I haven’t tried it, but it looks really good.”

He didn’t say anything, the elevator arrived, and we rode up in silence. After that, he was never friendly towards me again.

You never know what’s going to offend a person, is my point.

  1. August 21, 2013 7:47 AM

    Wow. He must have been planning to do something REALLY WEIRD with all that bread. It’s the only explanation.

    Ha, possibly. Although he seemed normal enough, aside from his great love of carbs.

  2. August 21, 2013 7:56 AM

    So true. I offend people all the time. Accidentally, of course. I know one thing, I can never eat our one loaf of bread in time before it molds. I wonder how he managed.

    I can usually manage to eat a loaf of bread before it gets (too) moldy, but packages of hot dog and hamburger buns defeat me every time. Then again, if they sold them one-by-one, no one would buy them because it would be too sad.

  3. August 21, 2013 9:39 AM

    I forgot how much I loved Celebrity Deathmatch until you reminded me just now.

    I’d forgotten about it too until I started thinking about Rudy. I had to Google, “famous people claymation fights” to remember what it was called.

  4. August 21, 2013 10:08 AM

    Was he overweight? In my experience, men tend to be less neurotic about food commentary than women. Guys tend to be likely to say: “damn straight, that’s a lot of bread! It’s hoagie day this weekend.” While saying that’s a lot of any kind of food to a woman is immediately interpreted as “you are fat.” His reaction makes me wonder if he was bulimic and ashamed of his behavior…

    For some reason, I am okay about remarks about food if they are general in nature when I’m not eating, but if I am actually dining I hate it when people get very close to me and say I’m not eating enough/not eating the right things/want to sample my food.

    He wasn’t overweight. I suppose he could be bulimic, but do they ever eat just a whole bunch of bread? That seems like a waste of a binge. It’s probably something I couldn’t guess at, like he used to really like club sandwiches as a kid and was always getting yelled at for using up all the bread. “The third slice is superfluous! Go to your room!”

    I dislike comments on my food, probably more than is rational. In fact, another time at the elevators, I was coming in with a six-pack of Diet Pepsi and another classmate remarked, “I see you stocked up on soda,” and while I replied, “yes, I did,” inside I was thinking, “HOW DAAARE YOU!” I didn’t shun him for the rest of the year though.

  5. badger reader permalink
    August 21, 2013 10:35 AM

    My first thought was he invented cat breading.

    Oooh, he was a monster, then. Maybe these are his hands in this picture.

  6. August 21, 2013 3:35 PM

    Actually, binging on bread (and butter and peanut butter) isn’t that uncommon amongst bulimics. I’ve now constructed a whole tortured history for him, overeating to compensate for the miseries of law school. Actually, a skinny guy I knew gained like 40 pounds during his first semester of law school, but that was less due to bread and angst and more due to the fact his dorm was near a greasy pizza joint and he was too lazy to get anything else. If it has been near a health food store he probably would have lost weight.

    I didn’t know you had gone to law school!

    People are always surprised to learn I’m an attorney, I think because I don’t drink very much.

    This is not really related, except that it involves weird eating habits, but I interviewed a second-year student once for a summer position and to demonstrate that she had good time management skills, she explained that she had eaten the same dinner every night since she’d been in law school, a 6-inch turkey sub from Subway. Because she had the same thing every night, she said she didn’t have to waste time thinking about what to have for dinner and because the people at Subway knew what she was having, she didn’t have to take the time to order. I recommended against bringing her in for a second interview because I thought the turkey sub story demonstrated that she had no aptitude for problem solving or creative thinking and that she was insane because who eats at Subway every night?

  7. August 22, 2013 1:04 AM

    Only people with raging eating disorders or promotional contracts!

    I.e., Jared.

  8. Marius permalink
    August 22, 2013 2:14 AM

    Maybe he had just seen Les Miserables and was over compensating?

    I am inordinately pleased with that comment because it involves one of the only three things I know about Les Miserables. (The other two are that I must avoid the most recent movie version because it violates my No Anne Hathaway Movies Ever rule and that the correct pronunciation is Les Misera[gargling noise].)

  9. August 24, 2013 5:04 PM

    Guys care about how much money they make, so I am going to guess he considered himself poor and you caught him stocking up on day-old bread (keep it in the freezer) which revealed his poverty. Unforgivable.

    Plausible enough I suppose, except that we were both students and living in Baretta’s apartment with a mini-fridge that had one of those 12″ x 18″ x 3″ freezers. It was only big enough to hold one tray of ice, one Lean Cuisine, and one Otter Pop. If you had a friend over, they would have to bring their own Lean Cuisine and Otter Pop.

  10. August 26, 2013 9:59 AM

    I have no theory at all. I can’t even imagine what one could do with five loaves of bread. I love bread a lot, but I end up throwing a good deal of it away, because I live alone. Actually, I don’t throw it away, really…I save the stale stuff up, along with stale chips and such, and periodically put out a big buffet in the backyard for the birds. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen an entire flock of starlings take wing with Cheetos in their beaks.

    I wish I could feed the birds in my backyard, but there are too many crows and pigeons around here to try that. It took me YEARS to get rid of the pigeons roosting under the eaves, so I don’t want to do anything that might bring them back. I will say, though, that the upside of global warming is that we’re getting so many different varieties of birds here now. It used to be robins and starlings and nothing else, but now I see hummingbirds and chickadees and, just this year, we’ve been getting red-headed finches. It’s probably not a fair trade for a dying planet, but the chickadees are super squee and it’s not like I won’t be dead in 50 years anyway.

  11. September 5, 2013 8:36 PM

    And Subway sucks, too. You were right to not bring her back.

    Compared to other fast food, I don’t think Subway’s that bad; however, they really need to rethink letting customers see them make the food. The last time I went, there was a huge line and the Sandwich Artist (HAHAHAHAHA) and his prison tattoos seemed to be arguing with a bottle of mayonnaise, so I left.

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