My dad was making dinner the other night when suddenly he stopped mid chop, ‘are you eating potatoes these days? It’s just your mother and I were discussing earlier that I might make a nice potato based side tonight, but if you’re not eating potato’s then there isn’t much point’.
Curiously I replied yes to the potato question, hesitating only to pick up the TV Guide.
‘It’s just your mother said that you might not be eating potato, so I was just making sure.’ ‘I don’t think I’ve ever given up potato before dad. It’s really not a problem.’ But he’d seized all chopping now and moved closer to the couch as my mother emerged from the decking, glass of wine in hand, binoculars in the other. ‘No, what I said Michael….’ I watched as my mother sat herself on the chaise lounge, helping herself to a handful of wasabi peas ‘…was that Louise shouldn’t eat potato.’
I reminded myself that track suits pants have elastic waistbands because it’s part of their design and that I was wearing them because I planned on going for a nice brisk walk later on and not because there was no other option now that my girth couldn’t possibly support a zipper or button pant like garment. I was certain an eating disorder lay dormant in me and that maybe this conversation was the catalyst for its release. At 28 and with my self esteem back on track it seemed only right it should rear its ugly head now. I could do with the drama.
‘Now does that include sweet potato?’ my father enquired as he rummaged through this secret potato sack he kept hidden away under the sink. A few months earlier my mother had requested that all carbs be not seen in the house, and that is how I explained the cereal packets in the bathroom cupboard to visitors. No one ever seemed surprised by this after seeing my mother attempt to eat vegemite on toast blind folded – ‘if you’re body can’t see it, then it can’t really be food’. My argument about fat blind people was not welcomed.
‘You know what darling, I’m not sure if it does include sweet potato. I’d have to look it up on the Weight Watcher’s site.’ As my mother pulled out her Blackberry I dreamed of a time when I didn’t live with my parents, but as tears welled in my eyes I thought best not think about what might’ve been.
‘Ok, according to them, she can have half a steamed normal potato or one full steamed sweet potato. I guess it just comes down to how hungry she is. How hungry are you?’ Her eyes burnt into my elasticised waist.
‘Really, I’m not that hungry.’
‘Oh here we go. We’re not having a go at you Louise, so don’t get all victim on us. It’s just that we as your parents are interested in knowing what you put in your mouth.’
It would only fall on deaf ears explaining to my mother and father that at 28 years of age neither of them had any control over what I put in my mouth. It was a brutal truth that an ex boyfriend of mine had learnt the hard way and sometimes I found myself wondering how he explained that scar to all the other girls since me. I’m almost certain all of his encounters since that fateful Christmas night opened with the line ‘sorry bout that’.
‘I think we should have beans as a side this evening, until we work out where we stand as a family on potatoes’, my father proclaimed as he poured himself another glass of wine. ‘Only if you use the fresh olive oil to drizzle them with, otherwise they taste to green’ my mother lamented.
I decided not to self harm that day. I’d save it for a special occasion, or maybe I’d save it for Mother’s Day. I’m still undecided.