Opinion: The Dangers of Eating out

Anushka Mukherjee | Staff Writer

As a certified paranoid teenager, I make it my priority to find things to stress out over. The sheer joy of losing sleep over something I did years ago or reliving the most menial of embarrassments over and over is insurmountable. 

I am a socially awkward being, so I have always avoided places that are packed with people such as restaurants. Whenever my parents even mention eating out, an alarm goes off in my mind blaring only one thing: “RUN!” As much as I love food, I prefer my peace of mind more. 

My parents enjoy going out to eat once a week because it allows us to destress and spend quality time together as a family. And I’m all for it, but why do we have to leave the comfort of our home to do so? 

The car ride to the restaurant is where it all begins. I try and stay as calm as possible, but I just can’t. My mind races with all these “what-ifs”: What if I trip on a waiter and they drop all their food, what if I spill water everywhere, what if I accidentally go into the kitchen instead of the bathroom — the list gets more ridiculous.

As we get to the restaurant I begin to palpitate. I try to comfort myself by saying, “It’s just a few hours and I’ll be fine. Focus on the food. Focus on the food.” A waiter comes to our table for our orders. We run through the usual routine and wait for our food. My family and I talk about our days and share a few laughs. And for a second, just a split second, I lose track of my anxiety. 

It doesn’t last long. 

The luscious aroma of Hickory Bourbon Chicken shocks me back to reality. As soon as the plate hits the table I attack. And as I casually inhale my food, my parents stare at me with concern, and slight disgust. 

It takes me a good five minutes to realize that everyone at the table is staring at me, and when I look up my sister always asks, “What’s wrong with you?” Realizing my situation, I excuse my behavior with, “I’m starving, that’s all.” Obviously, I can’t tell them the truth. They wouldn’t understand the chills that run down my spine every time I see a waiter even two feet within the proximity of our table. It’s a special skill really to be able to live in this antsy state of my mind. 

But before I can say anything else the beast had smelled my fear. And how couldn’t it, I reeked of it. The waiter’s footsteps echo through my ears. Right as I take my next bite I realized it was too late. They stand next to our table with a sly smile and ask the earth-shattering question, “How’s the food?” 

They have me cornered and there’s no escape. 

My mind paralyzes and I can’t think of what to do next. The waiter’s eyes meet mine and at that moment the color drains from my face. Panic creeps in. As always I attempt to politely answer her question; however, I end up shaking my head violently while I attempt to smile and cover my mouth at the same time. Ah, I had done it yet again. 

As she scurries away questioning the state of my sanity, I sit in my filth reliving the moment over and over. Taking my last bite I think to myself, “There goes my sleep.”