Firm in my Beliefs

Souper Bowl Snacks

My two 20-something co-workers never saw it coming. I quietly stirred my pot of soup and listened to their conversation until the wisdom soaked up through decades of hollow striving and longing boiled over.

We were in the conference room, the table converted from desktop to buffet table for our company-wide Souper Bowl Lunch. I was warming up the Italian wedding soup I’d assembled that morning, filled with hand-rolled meatballs made from locally sourced chicken and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, organic broth, and vitamin-rich spinach. My love would pour out with every ladleful.

BurgersThe women surveyed the full table, noodle soups and chili, salsas and creamy dips, Tostitos and  Wheat Thins, and pronounced all the food – except their salad and dip – off limits. These Paleo women shunned this blatant display of carbs. As I stirred my offering, I saw its other key ingredient swirling around, a cup of orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, and knew that it was as evil to them as the brownies across the table.

The food dismissed, the women talked next of exercise and getting rid of their cellulite, then of keeping their skin firm. “I use anti-aging cream every day,” said the smooth reed next to me.

Hot Dogs“You use anti-aging cream?” I tried to keep my voice neutral, to hide my surprise and, worse, my judgment.

“I need to stay ahead of the wrinkles.” She spoke with conviction. “As soon as I see any, I’m getting Botox.”

“You’re already considering Botox?” My voice and eyebrows were on the rise.

“For sure. I’m not going to let myself get old.” Her companion agreed.

“Botox. Wow.” I looked at their trim bodies and smooth faces and imagined the fallen soufflé of my own body, all doughy, saggy and rutted. But my mind was keen, springing back from the blow of their firm beliefs in staying firm. “You won’t ingest food like beans or bread or pasta, but you’ll inject poison into your face?”

“I am not going to look old,” she insisted.

Fruit plate“Oh, ladies” – I really wanted to call them girls because I was feeling a bit maternal, sad they had embraced our culture’s lies about beauty and how to maintain it, but I’ve scolded others, even the owner of the company, that we females are women, not girls, and that we really shouldn’t have to keep fighting that battle – “ladies, I wish you could see what I see when I look at you. You’re young and smart and beautiful. You’re hard-working and ambitious. You’re fun and adventurous. You’re awesome, and I don’t want you to miss all that because you’re waging a war you can’t possibly win. You will get wrinkly, but that’s okay. You’re so much more than the smoothness of your skin, and it’s those other qualities that really matter.”

Remarkably, one of the women was smiling at me: “You sound just like my mother.”

“Thank you.” I welcomed the comparison, glad another sister got stirred up in the effort to show our daughters their worth. And if she’d been in the room, I’m sure she would have been as ready as I was for a spoonful of cheesy meatballs and pasta plump with rich chicken broth.


  1. There is something about the panoramic view we get as we age that helps us see how wide and long and high and deep and delicious life really is!

  2. Thanks for the laugh as I pictured this party so clearly. Well written as usual, too!

    • With your wife’s office right next to the conference room, she might have heard my chiding. I do love our Softek team!

  3. Great paintings Craig. Lee, your wedding soup sounds yummy. Wonderful exchange with the “ladies” in your office.

  4. Mary Chandler says:

    One lady, Four daughters and Two words: Love. It.