Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grabbing a bite

I have a mental list of Things That People Do In Movies That Fascinate Me. Here's one that I can't wrap my brain around:

People in movies and on TV go to restaurants when it is not time for a meal.

I don't just mean that they go to restaurants at non-meal hours (e.g., 10 am or 3 pm). I mean that these characters spontaneously decide to go "grab a bite to eat" regardless of whether they have recently had a meal, or whether it's about time for another one.

The typical scenario involves two people meeting, making a connection, and then one asking the other, "You hungry? Wanna go get something to eat?" What I can't understand is that the answer appears to have nothing to do with a calculation about the day's three squares. The other character will delightedly reply, "Sure!" Meanwhile, on the couch I'm thinking, "But ... you can't just have a meal because you want to spend more time with somebody! How can you order an entree when you don't intend for it to be breakfast, lunch, or dinner -- just hanging out?"

Don't these people understand that a meal rearranges your whole day? When you eat determines when you're going to eat next. How is this spontaneous late afternoon repast going to affect dinnertime? Are you going to skip it? Eat it at 9 or 10 pm? How can you claim to be hungry when presumably you ate lunch at a normal hour?

I find it easier to comprehend "Wanna grab a cup of coffee or something?" But it's amazing how often people on TV or in the movies eat full meals at the drop of a hat, seemingly without any concern for the normal rhythms of daily food ingestion. As if they are quasi-human creatures who eat only when they are hungry, untouched by the cultural conventions of mealtimes that we mere mortals find difficult to ignore.

4 comments:

fjohn said...

This ability to eat always and always look great has been cited as one of the many reasons why Americans are over weight.

Of course, we have been brainwashed into thinking we can all be cool if we live like the people of HIMYM who seem to spend most every night drinking at the bar downstairs.

Eric Grubbs said...

The opening scene from Swingers and the Jay and Silent Bob scene in Chasing Amy immediately came to mind . . .

Eric B. said...

I think if somebody invited be to grab a bite and I wanted to spend more time with them (and I had said time available) I would do so. I might not eat a full meal, but I could surely have a little something as a pretext for spending time with someone.

I wonder if the past few years of moderating the meal times of youngsters (which is quite important)has made it difficult for you to bend cultural norms.

Adam Villani said...

Two possibilities here:
1. I think cops or people in similar professions might have highly irregular meal schedules. Lots of people in movies are cops. Or, if not cops, they might otherwise be people with irregular schedules and thus amenable to eating at odd times.

2. They might get together and not eat a full meal. I know I've done this.