Would you rather spend $100 on delicious meal or on a fantastic item of clothing? Without question I’d choose the clothing item and as a bear I suspect I’d be in the minority for that reason. From my experience many bears tend to think of fashion in a very functional way. Going naked isn’t an option so they need clothes to cover themselves up. If the clothes also happen to make them look good it’s an added bonus but usually not the goal. Obviously they want to look nice but extensive thought and planning probably isn’t involved. Their no-nonsense approach to dressing usually consists mainly of simple basics in a limited and neutral color palette. Some might even describe it as bland. Side note: This is why I’ve always found it hilarious that so many bears have tried and failed at developing bear clothing companies.
Food however is a totally different story. Bears love to eat. When it comes to food their approach is much broader and variety is the spice of life. Dinner might include anything from Chinese dumplings to Greek souvlaki. They’re only limited by their appetite. It’s a natural connection since food, eating, and larger waistlines are half the reason for bears existing as a sub culture to begin with. It’s not just bears though. Food is a very important part of our culture as Americans and we often look to food as a touchstone. People even show their love through cooking and food. Not living near my family people sometimes say things like, “I bet your mom always makes your favorite food when you go home to visit.” The honest answer is no. I don’t associate any specific meal with my family or growing up.
I often feel like an outsider when it comes to food because I don’t seem to have the same emotional connection to it as everyone else. I’m honestly just as happy eating Whataburger’s food as I am eating food from the fanciest of restaurants. My picky eating habits have never helped build a connection with food and recent dietary restrictions have all but severed any remaining bond. I don’t really eat what I enjoy I eat what I am able to. When it comes to people’s emotional connection it’s never more evident than when I have to turn down their home cooking. This is a common occurrence at work where there always seems to be a reason for a potluck. They celebrate everything with a potluck. As is common my coworkers take it very personally if I don’t try their food. I’ve realized they are cooking as a way to show they care and my rejection of their food is like a rejection of them as a person. To counter act this I’ve made a rule that I don’t eat any food in the office. I started the rule as a way of being healthy so I would avoid all the sugary desserts that everyone brought in. As much as I want to my body can’t handle brownies, cake, and bite sized Snickers every day. Then the rule expanded to include all food because I realized people were less offended when I said no to everything rather than saying no to their specific dish. It’s become a running joke because everyone knows that when there’s a huge potluck lunch I’ll still end up at Subway.
As I grow older food is becoming more and more a functional part of life rather than a source of enjoyment. I need food to survive so I must eat. Yes I have preferred dishes, much like you may have a favorite tee shirt, but that doesn’t indicate a deeper connection. Clothes on the other hand lift my spirits. I get so excited when I find a great item of clothing and a good outfit can truly make my day. Even though my style tends to remain very casual I still put a lot of thought and effort into every outfit. If there’s a big party coming up I’ll spend days if not weeks planning out what I’m going to wear. I assume other people use that time to plan what food they’ll bring? Work also pleasantly surprise me when they started a tradition of picking a signature color for everyone to wear every Friday. Early in the week a color is announced and come Friday the office is a sea of people all wearing clothes in the assigned color. This is something I can get behind.
When I realized that compared to most my tastes were reversed it helped me explain my food issued better. Often people can’t understand why I always order the same bland meal at a restaurant when there are so many other choices on the menu. The best way to explain it to them is with a question of my own. Why would you want to wear the same boring clothes everyday when there are so many more exciting possibilities? The answer to both questions is the same. We do it because it’s easier to stay in our comfort zone. So when I tell you that I’m going to New Orleans next week you can save any talk about all the food their famous for because the only thing I’m thinking about is what clothes I’m going to pack.