Years ago, I think I was twenty one, I was on a couples date with my then boyfriend, my good friend, and his model/actress/gorgeous/perfect girlfriend.
We were playing “adults”. My boyfriend and I cooked dinner, served wine (or beer, or some other kind of alcohol), probably laid out some cheese and crackers, and spent the evening eating and laughing at his apartment. It was enjoyable, and felt very grown-up.
It was the friends’ responsibility to bring dessert. Let’s call these friends Joe and Sally. So, when it came time for dessert, we found out that Sally made a tofu cheesecake. Tofu cheesecake. Remember, this was around 1993, and tofu-anything was not incredibly enticing. Not to mention, we were YOUNG and wanted super fattening, bad-for-you desserts. Not tofu cheesecake.
I had an open mind, however, and took the plastic wrap off the cheesecake with great optimism. I passed out pieces, and served coffee. My boyfriend and Joe went out to the patio and Sally and I stayed inside to eat our dessert, as I remember it. I took two bites and exclaimed, “This is pretty terrible!”
Okay, this is where I make a couple excuses for myself. One: I grew up in a family where honesty is valued to the highest degree, and if someone doesn’t like something you do, they tell you. Sure, it stings, but you’re better for it at the end. And you avoid future mistakes. (I don’t completely subscribe to this theory now, but I guess it gave me a thick skin.) Two: I thought we were the kind of friends that say something like, “this is pretty terrible” and everyone laughs heartily and agrees. I think I pictured her saying, “You’re right! Let’s go get donuts and bring them back to the boys!”
That didn’t happen. What actually happened was she cried, told Joe, and they left. I felt bad but I also felt angry. “COME ON! She knows it was terrible! Jesus! We get it! You’re beautiful and sweet and you’re in 100 commercials. Get over yourself!’ Those were the things I blurted out when she left. I think I remember my boyfriend saying I hadn’t done anything wrong, but maybe he was mad at me.
That incident made it difficult to ever play “adult” with that couple again. She thought I was mean and I thought she was clueless and overly sensitive.
I ran into Sally at an audition last week. I’ve probably run into her about 10 times over the last 15 years. She’s still beautiful, still in 100 commercials, and the mother of two kids. Last week we talked about schools for about 15 minutes and laughed and hugged when she was leaving. She is lovely. And I am different now. There is no doubt in my mind that, back then, I was threatened by her beauty and success. I may have not liked the cheesecake if it was served to me now, but I’d say something like… “This is good, but it’s a bit odd or something, right? Or is it just that I’m not used to it? I’ll keep eating and see!”
I look at that night as a snapshot of the woman I was in my twenties. No, the girl. I truly didn’t like myself and I certainly didn’t like other girls. And I really, really didn’t like other girls who were prettier, smarter, funnier, or better than me. I’m sure there was a part of me trying to hurt her, knowing she wasn’t the kind of girl who would laugh and agree with me. Now? I have so many friends who are “better” than me. They make ME better. They are my inspiration, and I am so grateful for them.
I’m also grateful for growing up, loving myself a little more, learning important lessons… And loving tofu. Although, I’d still prefer apple pie or brownies.