Zen Mama Wannabee Banner

Don’t Eat the Lo Mein!

Way back when, during our single days, my husband and I had a date at this local, upscale Chinese restaurant.  Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, it was a place we didn’t frequent THAT often, and I was excited to go – not only for the food, but also to enjoy the company of the dreamy guy seated across from me.  We laughed and talked (they used to call this flirting) sipping on our drinks until our food arrived: 2 yummy dishes to share (does it get much better than this??)

Funny what you can learn dining with a person, isn’t it?  My husband had this way of eating one thing and THEN eating the next.  He didn’t like mixing it up too much.  I, on the other hand, liked to take a bite of this, and a taste of that, and then back to the first, etc.  (Really summed up our personalities, I think, at least back then).  He started with the shrimp dish and continued with that, while I tried a few bites of the shrimp, then a few bites of the Lo Mein…and that’s when I discovered the Lo Mein was burned!  It was awful.  How in the world can you burn Lo Mein??  Especially here, at THIS place (after all, we’re not talkin’ cheap Lo Mein). 

So what did I do?  I did what any polite girl does on a date.  I ate the Lo Mein.  Maybe I commented to him about it (or not – I can’t remember).  What I do know is I was raised to eat what is put on your plate – you know, the whole good girls don’t make a fuss. 

LO_MIEN My husband finished eating the shrimp dish and moved on to the Lo Mein.  He took one bite of it and announced it was horrible.  I agreed but before I could do or say much more, he had the waiter over to our table, where he politely but firmly said the Lo Mein tasted burned to the point where it was inedible.  In a few minutes a new plate of Lo Mein was put down before us – it LOOKED better and tasted the way Lo Mein should taste.  Problem solved.

But I couldn’t eat the new Lo Mein.  Why?  Because I had already filled myself up on the bad Lo Mein (and I couldn’t eat a whole other serving now just because now it tasted right).  I had suffered through the burnt Lo Mein ever so politely but where did it get me? 

My husband immediately seized that as an opportunity to help me learn – often after that, when situations came up, he would say to me. “Don’t eat the Lo Mein!”  Meaning don’t just go along with it , for the sake of being polite.  Speak up, ask for what you want – not obnoxiously, not to make a scene, but because you deserve to have it be right.

It was a hard lesson for this Zen Mama Wannabe to learn, and maybe it shouldn’t have been.  Maybe it is harder for women then men.  Maybe it is more challenging when you have grown up as a people pleaser, scared to be the one rocking the boat.  Maybe enough people do it badly (at the other extreme) and you find their behavior so rude and unattractive that you overcompensate – not realizing there is a middle ground.

Today, I am happy to report I would send back the Lo Mein without thinking twice (perhaps too apologetically as it still doesn’t come completely naturally to me, but it would definitely get sent back).  So progress is being made.  But more than that, I want my kids to learn the lesson it took me so long to get. 

I want my children to send back the Lo Mein. I want them to do it with tact and class (just like their father did). Most importantly, I don’t want them to suffer through something, only to find the good stuff was there all along – if only they would have asked. 

Tags: , ,

2 Responses to “Don’t Eat the Lo Mein!”

  1. LarkLady Says:
    February 12th, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Polite, constructive complaining is hard to do… and it really shouldn’t be. But if YOU served something to a customer that was really inedible, wouldn’t you rather they told you about it so that you could do something to fix the situation — rather than their going away dissatisfied and perhaps not coming back?

    It’s something I’m working on. I wish I were more like your husband — able to politely but firmly say, This is not acceptable; how can we fix this?

  2. callieandbatido Says:
    February 16th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Ah, a lesson I still strive to learn! I think I would still eat the Lo Mein and not say anything. I guess it is a step forward when I, the ultimate people pleaser, would send the Lo Mein back…..at least once in awhile. Thanks to your husband for the great lesson learned.

Leave a Reply


Archives