At the last “party” I “hosted,” one of my “guests” remarked that I have a lot of oddball cookbooks.
Case in point: there’s Erica with my copy of “More of Jesus, Less of Me.”
This is a Christian guide to weight loss that I found at my junior class rummage sale at St. Andrew’s Episcopal (but my sister says, “Epispocal“) School in Ridgeland, Mississippi. When I first saw the title, I thought, “This is NOT about weight loss!” But it totally is a literal take on “less of me.”
The name “Kay Fant” is written in pencil on the very first page…so I can only assume this book once belonged to Ben Fant’s mom. (Ben was one of my classmates. My basketball coach used to tease him and ask him if he had a sister named Ella. I just looked him up on Facebook…and there’s a photo-less guy who is an Ole Miss grad, so it HAS to be him. But he has no friends. So I assume he doesn’t use it very often…and even if poor friendless Ben *does,* I never knew him well enough to be, like, his first friend.)
His mother’s spiritual guide to slimming down begins: “To all of God’s children who have been called Fatso, Tubby, or Two-by-Four, my fellow sufferers in life, especially those who have asked God to help them lose weight. I was an utter failure at weight loss until I found God’s way, and He asked me to share it with you.”
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this book. It’s like a peek into this whole other world where being fat is “no glory to God.” (But…there are testimonies in the back…so clearly it *has* worked for some people…and who am I to judge? Clearly not, well, Jesus. And…*that* is kind of ironic because my blended family went to a Christian therapist for a brief, shining moment in the great state of Mississippi. Classic stuff. We were assigned personality animals. I was a — wait for it — beaver. [Because I am hard-working and conscientious, they said.] And…to make a long story short, I had some issues with what was expected of me. And after the word “perfection” was bandied about, my Christian therapist said, “Oh, honey, the only person who was perfect in the history of time was Jesus Christ!” And it was like, “See? My point exactly. I am not Jesus.”)
But…back to oddball cookbooks.
Last week, I saw *another* cookbook at work…and couldn’t help myself: The Little Black Apron: A Single Girl’s Guide to Cooking with Style and Grace.
And, you know, I like cooking. And I’m totally a fan of learning new things. And I like to read. And I don’t even really take issue with chick lit all that much. (Hello, Bridget.)
And it’s my own stupid fault for opening the book anyway…because clearly what can be expected from something like this? (But, at the same time, it’s sort of this voyeuristic peek into another world…kind of like Christian weight loss…and how much fun have I had with that??)
But…the thing is that Christian weight loss isn’t really all that offensive. Crackpot, maybe. But not offensive-offensive. I mean, don’t get me wrong — I think it’s a totally crazy that the author had to ask her husband for permission to have an ice cream sundae on their anniversary…and he told her that it was between her and God, but if she really wanted one, he would buy it for her.
But THIS is essentially the kind of relationship that the authors of “The Little Black Apron” profess most young, single career girls are really waiting for while pretending to be professional and stuff:
“We know you exist because we’ve been exactly where you are…You’re a single girl who doesn’t know a can opener from a whisk. Deep down inside, however, you have dreams of living the domestic life and being an amazing mother and wife while residing in your newly remodeled Connecticut farmhouse. And, although you never admitted this openly, you already neurotically contemplate the day when you won’t be able to fix your three-year-old child a grilled-cheese sandwich…”
First things first, NO ONE is more neurotic than I am…but this begs sooo many questions…least of all which is: who on earth doesn’t know how to make grilled cheese sandwiches? Slice cheese. Butter bread. Put it in a pan. Grill one side until it starts to make noise. Flip it over. Repeat. Serve.
And I’m totally not saying that there’s anything *wrong* with wanting to be an amazing mother and wife (one might even argue that *I* have the same aspirations, making me quite hypocritical, indeed)…but — indulge me in a feminazi moment — it really irks me that this is ALL they say women want to do with their lives…when, in actuality, my dears…I would imagine there’s SO much more for a good chunk of the population.
But, okay, off the soapbox…
The less heated comment I have to make about this book is that it *also* kind of reminded me of a song in which the guy croons, he “(ate) burnt suppers the whole first year, / And (asked) for seconds to keep her from tearin‘ up…”
And I can’t embed the video from YouTube! But…if you’re into it: Kenny Chesney – The Good Stuff.
(You may recall that Mr. Chesney was the *real* Bridget‘s husband for a brief, shining moment. And everything comes full circle…)