chapter five: cravings

Rosie, age 8. Miriam, age 35. Glen, age 33. The three sit around the dinner table, large platters of home-cooked food in the center. It is not a formal dining room, rather the family table in the kitchen. 

ROSIE: (digging into her plate with abandon) MMMMMM. YUMMMM. (chomping) OOOOHHH MMMM.

MIRIAM: Calm down, baby.

ROSIE: What?

MIRIAM: You're making a lot of noise. Just eat.

ROSIE: I kept my mouth closed.

MIRIAM: I know, but you are moaning. Just slow it down.

ROSIE: (confused) OK mom. Sorry. (looks down at her plate, deflated).

GLEN: (picks up his plate, clean, and licks Italian dressing from the surface) Good food, honey. Thanks. 

Glen gets up from the table, makes a nondescript cough sound as he surveys the table and leaves the room. Rosie's stare is fixed on Glen's plate in a "we can do that?" way. Miriam stares straight forward, jaw clenched.

--

Rosie, age 17. Miriam, age 44. Glen, age 42. Midday, Miriam is cooking that night's dinner in the kitchen.

ROSIE: Mom, I'm hungry. When is this gonna be ready?

MIRIAM: It's four o'clock. It'll be ready by dinner. Six?

ROSIE: uggghhhhh

MIRIAM: I can put together the salad early if you want to eat some of that.

ROSIE: (rummaging through the pantry) Nah, it's fine.... I can wa-- 

Rosie finds a bag of nacho cheese Doritos in the pantry and Miriam tenses at the crunching sound of the bag before she even sees it. Rosie emerges from behind the cabinet door with one hand all the way inside the chip bag. She shuts the pantry with her elbow and walks to the refrigerator. 

MIRIAM: Don't eat that, baby. Wait two hours for dinner.

ROSIE: I'm not gonna eat a lot I just want like two.

MIRIAM: Then get a bowl and put two chips in it. And put the bag away.

ROSIE: MOM OH MY GOD. It's not a big deal! 

Rosie storms out of the kitchen, bag in hand. Miriam puts a lid on her bubbling pot and wipes her hands on a kitchen towel. Glen walks into the kitchen with a bag of cool ranch Doritos. He walks to the garbage can and steps on the pedal, the top flips up. He shakes the bag overhead, crumbs falling into his open mouth. When empty, he tosses the bag in the trash and wipes his hands on his jeans. On his way out of the kitchen he looks over Miriam's shoulder at the pot.

GLEN: Oo, looks good.

MIRIAM: I wish you wouldn't buy that shit. It's bad for both of you.

GLEN: I get them for everyone! You like chips too.

MIRIAM: No. I don't. I never eat any of that.

GLEN: (seems genuinely surprised) Huh. Exits.

-- 

Kitchen table, midday. Rosie is sitting in a chair with a book and a pad of paper. Miriam walks in and heads to the sink, pours a glass of water from the faucet. She notices dishes in the sink.

MIRIAM: Rosie, what are you working on.

ROSIE: I don't really feel like telling you.

MIRIAM: Excuse me?

ROSIE: I don't need your help with this.

MIRIAM: (stunned, angry) That's not what I asked you. What is that?

ROSIE: That's an invasion of my privacy.

MIRIAM: Do you want to watch my hand slap you in the face? That would be very invading. 

ROSIE: Moooooom, stop. Whatever. It's grandma's Weight Watchers book. 

MIRIAM: What?

ROSIE: I went to grandma's last night and she let me borrow her points book. I can have 18 points a day and I'm writing out what I can eat. So like, I can have a bagel for breakfast. And then I can have a dry package of Ramen and a Diet Coke at lunch. Diet Coke is zero points so I can have however many of those. Then I can get a cherry limeade and fries at Sonic before rehearsal. And then I'll have like six points for dinner when I get home.

MIRIAM: So this book is telling you to watch your weight by eating french fries and Diet Coke?

ROSIE: No, mom. It tells you how to lose weight no matter what you eat. That's just the stuff I'll probably want to eat.

MIRIAM: You don't need that book, baby. Let me cook dinner for you at night and you can take some leftovers for lunch to school. I don't know about points but I know you will be healthy if you eat what I make. 

ROSIE: Yea mom, I don't know how many points are in the food you cook. It's easier to just eat the brand name stuff they have in the book cause then you know. 

MIRIAM: I guess this is how they make their money. From telling you to eat junk. (starts to wash dishes) This stuff is just ridiculous to me. When I was a kid I didn't have bread to put in my mouth. I had to walk for twenty minutes to get it from the baker and after everyone else got their hands on it, I never tasted it. If I bit a piece of cucumber my mom was chopping for the salad I had a knife in my face.

ROSIE: I don't even understand what that means. This is why I didn't want to talk to you about it.

MIRIAM: Me and my sister would have one plate to share and I let her have everything because she was younger than me.

ROSIE: That doesn't make any sense. If she was younger than you she could probably eat less food and be okay.

MIRIAM: You don't understand what I mean. I'm saying that food is fuel. You put it in your body so you have energy to do things. If you eat soda and junk it's bad for you even if it's the right points.

ROSIE: I don't feel that way about food. I like to enjoy it.

MIRIAM: Let me show you how I cook the osh (farsi for soup) tonight and you can look up what's in it and come up with the points. 

ROSIE: Yea, um. That's a lot of work and I have to run lines with Will. He's gonna be here in a second.

MIRIAM: Why are you counting these points? To lose weight?

ROSIE: Yeah, before the show. I want to fit into this dress in the costume shop and the other one that fits is ugly.

MIRIAM: Bring the dress home and I'll fix it for you.

ROSIE: Yea, it doesn't really work like that. I have to go.

Rosie gets up from the table, collects her things and heads to the door. 

MIRIAM: If you think you're going to walk out of that door without giving me a hug and saying goodbye you are really stupid.

ROSIE: OKAY MOM I HAVE TO GO. 

Rosie gives Miriam an obligatory hug and walks out.

-- 

Rosie, 19. She is leaving a super store at what appears to be late night with a few friends. 

ROSIE: Oh my god guys. You wouldn't even understand the way I grew up. My mom wouldn't let me have any junk food. We never went out. She cooked every night. If I ate like one cookie she'd freak out.

KASEY: Dude I know. My mom is always telling me to lose weight.

ROSIE: Oh it wasn't really like that. She didn't care about how I looked, she just hates junk food. She's foreign so she thinks you have to cook everything.

ALYSSA: Sounds nice. My mom literally never cooked. I had cereal for dinner, like, every night. 

ROSIE: I'm gonna call her right now and tell her I just bought ice cream to eat at midnight!

Rosie gets out her cell phone and dials Miriam. Miriam picks up, we hear her voice.

MIRIAM: (groggy) Baby? Are you ok? I was asleep. What's wrong?

ROSIE: Oh, sorry. I was just calling to tell you that I'm leaving the store and I just bought a gallon of ice cream. And I'm gonna eat it as soon as I get back to my dorm.

MIRIAM: That's why you called me?

ROSIE: Yea! Cause I'm in college now and can do that if I want.

MIRIAM: Why did you need to tell me about it?

ROSIE: I just thought it was funny.

MIRIAM: You are an idiot. (hangs up)

KASEY: What did she say?

ROSIE: Hah, she was so pissed. 

Kasey and Alyssa walk ahead and Rosie lags a step or two behind. She looks at the grocery bag of ice cream and rolls her eyes at herself. 

-- 

Rosie, age 28. Miriam, age 55. They are in a new living room, smaller, like an apartment. Rosie shuffles around the kitchen while Miriam sits on the floor and mindlessly picks particles from the carpet and gathers them in a pile on the coffee table. Mark, Rosie's husband, sits on the sofa.

MIRIAM: There's a lot of shit on your carpet, baby. You need to vacuum. 

ROSIE: (quietly) Ok, cool, thanks mom. 

MIRIAM: (to Mark) I have to get you the vacuum cleaner I have. It works really good. It's not cheap, but it's much better than the other piece of crap I was using.

MARK: That would be awesome.

ROSIE: (yelling now, from kitchen) We have a vacuum mom, okay? I'll vacuum tonight after you leave if that makes you happy.

MIRIAM: I'm sure you vacuum. I'm just saying these ones they make now are just pieces of garbage. Don't suck worth a damn. I need to bring mine over so you can see.

ROSIE: Okay, guys. Dinner is ready. (she walks to the coffee table with two plates of food.)

MARK: Smells good, babe. Thanks for cooking.

MIRIAM: You're lucky, girl. Your dad never said a word about anything I cooked. One time I asked him if he liked his dinner and he said, "I ate it, didn't 1?"

MARK: (laughing) He didn't say that.

MIRIAM: Swear to god.

Rosie leaves two plates on the table and walks away with attitude when Miriam mentions her dad. She returns with a third plate for herself and sits on the floor opposite of Miriam and Mark to eat. The trio start working on dinner.

MIRIAM: This is very good. You were always very into food. Mark, even when she was really little she would make these loud noises when she ate. Moaning like sex noises.

MARK: Hah, really?

MIRIAM: I had to tell her to calm down before she passed out!

ROSIE: I like food. I like cooking. It's fun for me.

MIRIAM: You can pay so much attention to a recipe and I don't like to read them. I just make whatever I learned to cook from my mom and my aunts.

ROSIE: Well, you eat food for fuel, right?

MIRIAM: What?

ROSIE: You don't care how it tastes because it's just for energy to do things. You told me that more than once growing up.

MIRIAM: I don't know. I just don't like to read from a book when I'm cooking. But you are very good at it. This is great, baby.

MARK: I'm so lucky. She loves to cook so I get something great every night.

MIRIAM: Did your mom cook growing up?

MARK: Um, yea sometimes. We definitely did a lot of fast food. If she cooked it was usually one or two things like spaghetti or nachos. Easy stuff. She didn't like to cook very much.

MIRIAM: Well I cooked every night. That was just the only way I knew.

MARK: I guess that's where Rosie learned it!

ROSIE: (to Miriam) Can you please brush that pile of crumbs off the table?

MIRIAM: No, I just spent half an hour picking it up because your vacuum doesn't work.

ROSIE: Oh yea, I forgot.