rec room home | eat me

the listener
by erin teegarden

Let me give this to you straight: I’m not much of a “foodie”; I was raised on hot dogs and cheerios, whole wheat toast and slim fast shakes. In the past, my gay boyfriends have tried to break me of my bland palate and culinary bad habits, giving me endless lectures on mustard seeds and marinades, dull lessons on how to perfectly pair wine with entrée, how to make “easy” frittatas and fluffy soufflés, but these lessons never seemed to stick. I’m always back to my bachelorette standards -- scrambled egg sandwiches or over-microwaved lean cuisines.

And this is all right by me. I get freaked out when food is taken too seriously, anyway. The worst is when food is sexualized -- I often find myself cringing at birthday parties where some guest announces, “Omigod! This chocolate cake is ORGASMIC!”

Give me a break. No chocolate will ever come close to being “better than Robert Redford.” (Have you seen “The Way We Were”?!)

Similarly, I get skeeved out when food is personified. Example: those billboards on the interstate that advertise rib joints up ahead. These sweet cartoon pigs are standing on two legs, potbellied, smiling from ear to ear, wearing little checkerboard aprons and holding knife and fork while a bubble above their heads reads: “EAT ME – next exit”. And don’t even get me started on the explicit cannibalism in that preview before the movies … you know the one. A masculine, hulking Popcorn takes prim and doe-eyed Drink on a date to the movies. In a gesture of chivalry, Popcorn heads to the concession stand to bring Drink a drink …and she… drinks it, coyly sipping it and making eyes at her hero, Popcorn. BUT WHY?! WHY ON EARTH WOULD SHE INGEST HER BRETHEREN?

I just don’t get it.

Needless to say, I was expecting to have a similar reaction to “Eat Me” at rec room on Wednesday, May 3. I was expecting an uncomfortable two hours, where food was sexualized and personified, loaded up with a heapin’ side of stinkin’ adjectives.

I was pleasantly surprised, as I always am at rec room. I had a great time. Megan Martin did a wonderful job curating the show. She laid out colorful placements on all the tables, and her introductory essay provided a nice frame for the literature featured in the show. Her essay spoke of food as it is linked to human emotion, how she “reads” people by what they eat. Later, she did a hilarious revision of the words of Emily Post, inserting the words “suicide” and “adultery” to spice up Post’s ridiculously anal essay on table manners. Speaking of anal, Shawn Huelle read an essay that detailed his extremely…organized process of making, packing and eating his lunch. (After, several women in the audience reported being simultaneously attracted and repelled by Mr. Huelle's eating habits.)

The always dynamic duo of Olivia Cronk and Melissa Walker stole the show with their collaborative performance on a mother/daughter dinner conversation. (I lost it when Olivia donned a ridiculous 80s “mom wig”.) In their piece, the daughter (played by Melissa) hears the mother (played by Olivia) accusing her of having an eating disorder (“God Mom! I don’t have an eating disorder! I’m just not hungry right now! I’ve been eating Doritos all day! Why do you always make me eat?! I’m not anorexic!”) when really the mother is criticizing the daughter’s life, in general. (“I found Chiclets and condoms in your purse!”)

Other show highlights included: Della Watson’s poem about leading a (4-H) lamb to slaughter for profit, Brandon Heckman’s detailed reading of a recipe for a particular marinade utilizing (and apparently this is VERY important) aged balsamic vinaigrette, (audience members were encouraged to close their eyes and imagine making this, but because I could not suspend that much disbelief, I imagined Brandon making this for me…), Kathy Regina’s imitation of William Carlos Williams’s “This is just to say”, and the sensory satiating poetry of both Shannon Mulally and Miki Howald. (Miki handed out recipes after her reading that many audience members told me they were eager to try. She also distributed fortune cookies and encouraged us to use these fortunes in the reading of the traditional rec room exquisite corpse poem.) The night’s musical contribution was served to us by the talented ladies of Salute your Sweetheart in their haunting song, “I’ll Be Your Food.”

Honestly, I came to the show expecting to need a few shots of Pepto (or something stronger) to get through the night. But by the end, I was still hungry for more show, more food (rec) ruminations. Luckily, Megan had made brownies for everyone to take home, and I got one from the edge of the pan – my favorite. And, I gotta tell ya, the brownie wasn’t better than young Robert Redford. But it could definitely give old Robert Redford a run for his money