Saturday, December 14, 2013

Secret Celebrity Crush

I have a secret celebrity crush on Anthony Bourdain. The smart-mouth badass chef, author of Kitchen Confidential and globetrotting host of the culinary and cultural shows "Parts Unknown" and "No Reservations." Starting from his own experience as a chef, he uses food as the pretext for cultural exploration. During his travels he is as likely to be meeting with the elite of the cooking world, as he is to be eating street food or meals cooked on smoky woodstoves with the humblest of peasants. Wielding a cooking knife, a wine glass or swigging from a bottle of beer with equal aplomb, while engaging in witty repartee, he celebrates creativity, slams pretentiousness, appreciates subtle detail, and looks at the geopolitical forces that shape the modern world.

I could see myself as part of that life. I would love to go trekking around the world, sampling the food and drink, talking to the people, creating those connections and then writing about them and sharing them with the world. I could do that, even if my own experience has consisted of spending much more time with the peasants and plebes than the powerbrokers.

Anthony Bourdain, however, is completely unaware of my existence. He doesn't know who I am, he doesn't read my blog, and he isn't in the market for a new relationship. He has not been pursuing me or asked me out, even when he was on the dating market. It's not his fault that I have fixated on him.

That, however, does not change the way I feel. Last year I asked the universe for a wish and my wish came true. What I wished for and what I got, taught me that I could still feel things that I hadn't felt in years, even though the object of my affection did not reciprocate the feeling. I felt, and it took my breath away.

Just because I feel something doesn't mean that the feeling will necessarily be returned. I've been on the other side of that equation too, being the object of affection and having to gently but clearly make it known that I don't feel the same way. Life is unfair in that way, but it really is a "suck it up, Buttercup" situation.

I took some wonderful humanities classes in Cegep. In one of them, "The Individual and the System," we were asked to participate in an exercise in vulnerability. Toward the end of the semester, when we knew each other fairly well, we were asked (challenged) to pick the person that we most cared about and then say to that person out loud, I choose you. I had worked with Chris on a group project. We had friendly, flirty relationship. There was no doubt in my mind I would choose him and I felt confident that, out of everyone in the class, he would choose me too. An awkward silence reigned as everyone looked around expectantly to see who would make the first move. Surprisingly it was Stacy who stepped forward. She said to Chris, "I choose you." He said that he chose her too. I was shocked. I was devastated. I had thought that we had a special connection, and apparently I was mistaken. I spoke up and said that I had chosen him too. Then I stepped back and allowed myself to absorb the impact of what I felt and what I had done. If I had kept my mouth shut and said nothing, someone else might have picked me. But I said what I felt, effectively taking myself out of the running for anyone else at that time. I started avoiding Chris after that.

He caught up with me a few weeks later. He said that he figured that both Stacy and I would choose him and he would accept whoever spoke first. Diplomatic, if not very authentic. He and Stacy did not start dating. Chris asked me out. We started seeing each other and he became my first serious boyfriend. My memories of him are all good. But more than this relationship, it was the course that left me with lessons that I have carried forward through life. It taught me to own up to what I feel. That when I do admit to what I feel, I risk being hurt. And that just because I feel something, doesn't mean that it will be reciprocated. The most recently added lesson was not to get so caught up in the indulgence of my own feelings that I can't see any other options; stay open.


If Anthony Bourdain becomes available, he really should consider me as a potential partner. In the meantime I wish him well, and I'll send another wish out to the universe. This time I'll be a little more careful about what I wish for.

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