“Top Chef” is one of my favorite shows on TV. Chefs compete, and their cooking does the talking. Personalities are part of the mix of ingredients. But generally over-the-top drama is not.
Sometimes you hear about a contestant’s family back home. I don’t mind this in doses because it’s rounding out their character and helping the audience understand them as a person and cook.
The other night, though, on an episode of “Top Chef Duels” (a spin-off of the original pitting past contestants against each other for more money and glory) sap was unavoidable. The final set of chefs vying for the title has to prepare dishes that reminded them somehow of passion and love.
Of course, the perpetual single guy whose career is, in his own words, everything in his life, made a yummy-looking plate centered around peas. He may not have a lady to love in his real life. However he does have something else to love and feel passionate about: peas.
Then there was Tiffani, a lesbian chef from Boston. The fact that I’m even calling her a lesbian feels not quite right. I had a hunch she swung that way. Yet in Tiffani’s previous bouts on “Top Chef” her sexuality never came up. She was portrayed—and I’m sure is—the tough chick who stood up for herself and battled in the kitchen to mostly great results.
Apparently, in recent years, Tiffani also fell in love. So when it was time for her to explain her passion-themed offering to the “Top Chef” judges she became very un-Tiffani-like, tearing up and expressing a rare type of vulnerability. Especially when she talked about her wife, Tiffani couldn’t hold back in letting her feelings be known.
“I never thought I’d get married,” she told them. “I never wanted to be married. I just wanted to marry her.”
Let that sink in for a minute.
The simple statement hit me in the gut a little, I must confess. It encapsulates so much of how I feel.
Our society puts this enormous pressure on us to get married. Even as statistics and studies show all kinds of career success and educational achievement for women and even as the numbers reveal a trend toward marrying later and having babies at a more advanced age, the pressure’s still on.
Why aren’t you married?
Why haven’t you found someone?
Yet here’s the thing, particularly as a female, that you’re not supposed to say: What if you’re not the marrying kind? What if you’re not that person who has envisioned her wedding? What if picking out the flowers and decor of the reception never was an image conjured in your mind?
Mostly, that’s me. I’ve never hoped for marriage persee. Perhaps “assumed” is a more appropriate word to use here. I thought marriage and that soul mate would just find me, stumble into me the way strangers talk to me on the bus just because I’m around and I have a certain vibe that makes that allowable.
Maybe it still will.
I think if it happens for me it’ll be like how chef Tiffani describes it. I won’t be signing up for the grand idea of marriage. The right person somehow just makes you want to marry them even if marriage wasn’t the sought-after goal from the start.