Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dating Taco Bell

I have a friend who likes to say "you have to stop dating Taco Bell..." Not to me, necessarily, but in regard to the dating habits of many whom she observes.

I mentioned this to Jeffrey today and he commented on how Taco Bell only has five ingredients, but they keep finding ways to rearrange them so that they seem different and new.

"You keep hoping for something mind-blowing but always end up with a tiny package of something mild," he quipped.

If you don't look too closely, it seems like you're scarfing down something entirely different. You can even go out of your way to order something you've never tried before, and not until you've swallowed that last bite will you notice that it tasted amazingly familiar.

I've been thinking about the Taco Bell theory lately--and whether I'm stuck in the drive-thru. Or (even worse) whether I'm Taco Bell.

Actually, I think I do have a fast food attitude toward dating. I like convenience. I resist investing too much. I get tired of cheeseburgers and look forward to changing it up with a fillet o fish or beef baja gordita. And, at times, I know putting in my order is going to be bad for me.

Part of me wants to blame it on the current dating climate: online dating is eerily similar to ordering off the menu. The classic American problem of too many choices makes deciding what you want--and then sticking with your decision--more difficult than perhaps it needs to be.

O, for the days of arranged marriage! Or settling down with the neighbor boy down the road because he's basically the only person of the opposite sex that is within a 50-mile radius.

I think dating Taco Bell comes from laziness, convenience and that old standby--a desire to stay in your comfort zone. There's also the possibility that you don't know the difference. You've never been to the Red Iguana, let alone La Caille. In that case, you have no way of knowing why you keep getting the same intestinal payback every time you eat out.

Or--if you have sampled finer fare--you feel like it's better than you, so you never go back.

Another aspect that my friend is alluding to when she offers her sage advice, is recognizing that you usually aren't a Taco Bell person, but you've gotten stuck there. The question is, why? When will you notice and snap out of it?

AND--are other people the only ones who recognize it?

It's usually so easy to see that someone else is with a person who just doesn't seem like a good match. There are the superficial things: looks, height, weight, income, education, what car they own, etc.

Those are usually where the Taco Bell assessment takes place.

But there are also those secret ingredients that are much more difficult to detect: emotional intelligence and maturity, communication styles, family history, belief structure. You can be hitting the drive-thru for those things too.

Thinking back on my dating history since my divorce, I think that I have bounced around a little bit. The first relationship I had was with a man who seemed, on nearly every level, to be the complete opposite (and a whole hell of a lot of steps up on the food chain) from my ex-husband.


Yes, he had a job and was able to keep it. He paid his bills and owned a house. He acted like a grown up. But he was still an emotionally crippled liar with addiction issues. That--along with a pronounced pompous asshole gene--seems to be my favorite thing to order.

My last real relationship was solidly NOT Taco Bell. He was a lot like Mary Poppins, in fact: practically perfect in every way. But this restaurant was bland--like putting ketchup on your burrito and thinking it's hot sauce. He couldn't tell the difference. I could.

Part of me is afraid that I can't really be satisfied with anything other than my local Taco Bell. Maybe that's what happens. We become junkies and our tastebuds can't be satisfied by other, more healthy (more attractive and even more expensive), flavors.

Right now I'm not sure what drive thru I'm idling my engine in...but I'm certainly keeping my senses tuned for whiffs of that old, familiar bean and cheese burrito (with sour cream, of course!).


Anonymous said...

Oh Rebecca, you are fantastic...I completely identify with your analogies of dating. I just hope that miss right is around the corner eating sushi! -LaRiesse

Jeff S said...

"Love it. I've always wondered whether they have a wheel that they just spin to decide which ingredients to combine. But as for dating, take heart--sometimes their combinations are magical!"

Mom said...

You need to go to a sit down restaraunt and let the food come to you.

Monica said...

I really like the way your mind works!! :)

Love ya!!

Anonymous said...

mmm - first husband blue-eyed blonde workaholic who complained about every cent I spent. second husband brown eyes, black hair liked to have fun and use my credit cards. different looks, different addictions, same guy. Oy. I love you, girl!!!