THOUGHTS ON SUCCESSFUL WOOING STRATEGIES
There are three major signs as to whether or not you are living the student life: First, you repair broken plastic hangers with duct tape rather than spend the 99 cents required to buy a new five-pack. Second, the number of times you (don’t) do laundry every semester appalls your mother. Third, you spend most of your waking hours in the same baggy sweater and pair of pajama pants, especially around final exam time. Given these habits, it’s not surprising that most students are notoriously bad at the art of seduction: although we might procrastinate from work by strategizing about how to woo that potential significant other, our grandiose plans often fail, since most people are unimpressed by the clutter of repaired hangers and dirty laundry that epitomize students’ lifestyles.
Even so, in the highly unlikely case that someone out there in the world is strategizing about how to seduce me, I figured it would be helpful to provide step-by-step instructions on how best to do so. To start, I want to make clear that it will take a lot more than an overabundance of papers, books and soiled clothes littered on the floor to faze me. Moreover, I tend to look fondly upon those who share my passion for consuming greasy, salty or otherwise preserved snack foods during stressful times; I have a special spot in my heart for Easy Mac and buffalo chicken pizza as go-to late-night snacks. Beyond that, seducing me is a fairly straightforward process.
Rule #1: Successful seduction strategies will involve food.
Addendum to Rule #1: The food used in the seduction process should taste good.
For those still hankering to try and seduce me but stumbling about for food ideas, I’ll help you one step more: make this and present it to me alongside a nice, cold pint of creamy ale. The recipe is for a homemade Big Mac, along with the Special Sauce.
For most, the double patty monstrosity is a symbol of Americana, grease and unhealthy self-indulgence in moments of weakness. But for me, the burger exerts a seductive, nostalgic hold because it epitomizes the spur-of-the-moment jaunts to fast food joints that were a staple of my life growing up in the States. (Full disclosure: I never was a big fan of the Whopper.) Now that I’m living on an island that is a several-hours-long flight from home (a.k.a. England), I’ve found that I miss the spontaneous, childish, hilarious and unpredictable fast food stops I would make with my college a cappella group while road tripping and touring through the South. Waffle House was the typical all-purpose stop for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as they proved to be good venues for impromptu concerts where we could serenade the other guests while waiting for our All-Star Breakfasts to be served up.
Sports and fast food have also long been tied together in my mind. The high school tennis team had an unusually large number of Taco Bell fans, and so we’d often drive on over after a long day of hitting forehand drives and chasing lobs to refuel on 7-layer Burritos and Nachos Supreme. (Conversations I had during those Taco Bell runs were also how I kept up with the latest high school gossip.) Another time in college, I went on a run with a friend, not because I’m a runner, but because I just needed to get away from the books. We ran a mile or so to the nearest McDonald’s, shared a Big Mac meal and then ran back to campus. It might not have qualified as calorie-burning exercise in the end, but it certainly qualified as a study break.
What I miss most are the late-night milkshake runs I would make with my sister, when she was barely old enough to drive and I was young and whiny enough to incessantly beg for some form of ice cream. We’d usually hit up the 24-hour Steak ‘n Shake to get a large chocolate-vanilla-something-or-other malt and an order of skinny fries. Then we’d gorge on them, together – and I’m convinced that those experiences were how I learned the importance of sharing as a young child.
Here at Oxford, I live far enough from the city center such that every trip to a pub, fast food joint or grocery store requires at least a ten minute, high-speed bike ride that leaves me a little bit sweatier, smellier and more discombobulated than before – all of which overrides the fast food mood and makes me just want to go back home and shower. The fact that there are tens of thousands of students spread out over 38 residential colleges also makes the intimate fast food run all the more unlikely to happen spontaneously.
NB: At this point in the story, my British friends would say to me, “Patrick, stop being so whingey.” [adjective (British informal): to whine (all the time)]
So when you try and seduce me with a Big Mac made from scratch, the dreamy haze that rolls into my eyes will most likely have little to do with you. Instead, I’ll be reminiscing about the good old days when I didn’t have to commit to a labor-intensive bike ride to indulge my greasy desire for cheap food. Call me silly or parochial, but I think that the gleeful experience of the local fast food expedition crucially contributed to my Americanness, for better or for worse. Probably for the worse. But then again, that’s why we pay for healthcare, right?
This post is from my writing for #LetsLunch, a group of writers and food enthusiasts from around the world. Every month, we decide on a category of food, devise a recipe to make and then tell a story about our culinary adventures.
You can check out more Let’s Lunchers’ seduction food offerings at the links below. If you’d like to join Let’s Lunch, go to Twitter and write a message with the hashtag #Letslunch — or submit a comment on this post.
Cathy‘s Roasted Pepper Jelly at Showfood Chef
Emma‘s Creamy Carbonara at Dreaming of Pots and Pans
Grace‘s Pasta Puttanesca at HapaMama
Joe‘s Overnight-Marinated Swordfish Stew at Joe Yonan
Linda‘s West African Groundnut Stew at Spicebox Travels
Leigh‘s Apple Cider Donuts at His With Hers
Rashda‘s Spicy Seafood Soup at Hot Curries & Cold Beer
Steff‘s Flirty Italian Snack at The Kitchen Trials