Have you ever been faced with that question? It may seem like an innocent question but it does carry with it a lot of weight, right? Well, YEAH!! Okay so picture this: you are at a wedding reception and Item 7 is already in full swing. Guests are being served refreshments behind you, beside you, in front of you and as far as your eyes can go, mouths are moving happily for reasons other than talking and err…kissing. You have been enduring pitiful glances from people around you, who are wondering what crime you have committed to make them not to serve you at the same time with everybody else. Some try to gauge your social and financial worth, because let’s face it, there is no way an Aliko Dangote or a Michelle Obama would be left staring into space while around them other guests were eating and drinking. So these ‘Amebos’ look at the quality of your clothes, your shoes, your hair, your wristwatch and YES, your doggone phone! If you fall below their standard, they ‘eye’ you, pout their lips in disgust (especially the ladies) and wonder what they have done for God to punish them in this manner; allowing them to attend the same party as you, an obvious NOBODY. Anyway you are there minding your own business and enduring the glares of busybodies who are thinking within themselves that they need to up their game in order not to be seen in the same social events with the likes of you, when all of a sudden, like a dream, it finally happens…
Oh but it is no dream. Yes! A member of the catering staff is asking you what you would like to eat. And like a boss, which before now you had forgotten you were, you readjust your collar, smoothen out your dress, sit back in a relaxed pose before saying in a voice you hope sounds sweet, authoritative and at the same time doesn’t betray the nervousness and maybe ‘wicked’ hunger you have been feeling. You don’t want to sound like you have been waiting for hours to be ‘fed’ because you had planned how you were going to eat and drink to your satisfaction and had therefore gone on to take extra measures to ensure that happens, by taking ‘purge’ so that there would be enough space in your stomach for anything you threw at it. But wait, wait…what did this lady just say? You had been rambling on with your thoughts and you hadn’t quite caught what she’d said. “I’m sorry what?” “There is no meat or fish left in the food. Should I bring it ‘without’?”
You cannot quite believe what you just heard. You do a double-take and stare at the lady that just asked you that question, as if to say “Really???” Well, actually you voice it out and she apologises. But she’s still waiting for your answer anyway. You look around at the people around you, who are in the final stages of the eating process. Some are already in their 2nd and 3rd plates of food and you sincerely hope they would be too busy to notice what’s happening. You silently promise to give more alms to beggars if your Maker ensured that no other person had heard the question the lady had just asked you.
Now you are caught between the ‘you-know-who’ and the deep blue sea. It is a shame to eat in public without the very important meat and/or fish (oh, you have no idea how important it is!) . It makes the person look like they came to the party because of the food so that whether there is meat or fish, they don’t mind. You don’t want people to think you are one poor, hungry fellow who doesn’t mind what kind of food he’s offered. At that moment your stomach growls as if to remind you of the ‘purge’ you took. The question now isn’t, “CAN you eat ‘without’?” but “SHOULD you eat ‘without’?” because really, you CAN eat without…in the safety of your own home. But you are in public for heaven’s sake and you imagine eyes looking at you and your ‘without’ food, sniggering and judging you for ‘stooping’ so low. Well, you have to decide for yourself whether to please the judgmental public or to damn all consequences (or lack of thereof) by pleasing your faithful stomach; the choice is yours.
So can you eat ‘without’ in your home and in public? If you can eat without meat or fish in your house, isn’t it rather foolish to assume that ‘na falling hand’ to do that outside? I mean, who are you kidding but yourself? The irony is that it is usually those that normally don’t think it’s an issue eating ‘without’ at home, that scream angrily at the people serving food at the party, with their eyes bulging out: “ For what??? Am I a dog that you want to serve me food ‘without’??!!” Some people attach so much meaning to the presence of the meat/fish in the food that giving them food without either meat or fish could be equated to shaving their heads in public without their approval and then asking them to dance around naked. They would rather prefer to drop dead from hunger than be SEEN eating food ‘without’. So what about you? Can you eat in public ‘without’?