My host auntie and I have a basic point of disagreement. She feels my visit to Georgia, or more particularly my stay in her sister’s home will not be a success unless I’ve gained at least 10 pounds—or kilograms if you will, since she doesn’t compute in pounds. But regardless of terminology, I feel quite the opposite. And unfortunately, at least according to my bedroom mirror, I’m on the losing end of this disagreement.
Of course the food situation’s always been bad. And I mean bad only in the sense that I’m a glutton. I like food, so of course when food—worse, good fresh food is forced on me every day there’s bound to me a problem. Namely I’m going to eat it and then I’m going to have to roll myself out of this country called Georgia. And then I’ll have to lose it–or hope for a parasite while traveling. But either way the options aren’t pleasant.
I didn’t fully understand the situation until a few weeks ago—right around the beginning of the holidays here. School was out and everyone was waking up a little later. I got up and found myself alone in an empty, dark kitchen. Exciting! So I made myself breakfast. My first. But Auntie caught me just as I was finishing. She was very apologetic that she’d overslept and I explained no worries, I’d made myself breakfast and everything was fine—all through gestures of course.
She began to make me more breakfast anyway, even when I told her again, “No, no, I’ve eaten, I’m good.” In response, she walked over patted my stomach and pointed to the stove, indicating I hadn’t gained nearly enough weight in her house, was destroying her reputation, and god forbid her sister might fire her as the in-house maid/cook/nanny. Did I really want to be responsible for a spinster aunt living in her sister’s house being fired? (Having spent the previous year living in my own sister’s house in similar servant-like conditions I was somewhat sympathetic to this situation.)
So obviously I had to eat. A second breakfast. A very large second breakfast.
But the real showdown didn’t happen until last weekend when I told the women I wasn’t extending after all. I had to have this conversation (also called the dictionary/charade game) because I was once again hearing a common refrain, which consists of, “Why isn’t Editi learning Georgian?” In the past it’s always been the grandma or aunt or maid who asked this, but this time it was my host mother (the Queen Bee). And she actually named checked the 17-year old Rotary Club dude who lived with them for a year and learned Georgian. “So why not Editi?” she asked. “Is she lazy?” Yes.
I grew suspicious and reminded them I was leaving in a few weeks and sure enough they said they thought I was staying another three months, which I’d admittedly told their son was a possibility.
But it turned out a possible job back in the US got in the way so I’m not extending, which I explained to them. At which point Auntie pointed at my stomach again and pointed at the stove. Game on.
But the truth is I’ve already lost this war. The fight’s not in me. They’ve been rolling out the high stakes this past week, the food more abundant and more delicious than ever. And I’ve been eating and eating—for my host auntie, of course. In solidarity.