The Strawberry Yogurt Incident, as I like to think of it, occurred on a lazy Sunday night, not unlike last night. Not unlike it at all, actually, as it, in fact, was last night. But let’s not get bogged down in details. My girlfriend was studying for her upcoming IT exam and I was busy trying to write a short story for a fantasy-and-myth based website. My story was not coming along well at all – it amounted to some gibberish about a rogue knight, narrated by a talking fox – and I was feeling frustrated. The sun was down and, unlike the fox in my crappy story, neither of us were saying much of anything. Until 8:00 struck, and then my girlfriend had a sudden craving.
“Do you want ice cream?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said, looking up from my Word document. “Sure.”
“Ok. Let’s go out and get some.”
“Oh, in that case, no, I’m fine. I thought you had ice cream here.”
I should point out that I’m currently staying rent free at my girlfriend’s apartment, as I have no place of my own. I should also point out that I hadn’t left the apartment all weekend and, to emphasize my laziness, I hadn’t even put on pants.
“I’m craving something sweet,” she said, still reading her downloaded IT handbook. “I want strawberry yogurt.”
“Ok,” I said, knowing what she was getting at and avoiding it. “Why don’t you go down to the corner store and get some?”
“No, that’s okay,” she said. About a minute later she was repeating, “I would really like some strawberry yogurt” for the third or fourth time.
“Are you saying you want me to get it for you?”
Sometimes, a man has to ask himself, “Do I really want to put on pants?” As much as I wanted a happy girlfriend, I just couldn’t bring myself to get up.
“Honey,” I said, “I’m really busy with this talking fox story. You don’t need the yogurt. Besides, you’ve been talking about trying to lose weight all week.”
This, I felt, was a smart tactic. No, baby, it’s not that I don’t want to go to the store and get your yogurt…it’s just that eating strawberry yogurt at 8:30 at night might not be good for your metabolism and I want what’s BEST for you!
Of course, my girlfriend is a tiny Asian woman, so both of us knew a little yogurt was not going to blow her up to non-Asian-girl proportions.
“If you cared about me,” she said, “you would go down and get me the yogurt.” While this sounds demanding, I should point out that she’d bought and cooked me meals all weekend, aiding in my ability to live a freewheeling boxers-and-t-shirt lifestyle. So perhaps I owed her a bit.
“Sweetheart, I’m sorry…I’m working on something right now,” I said, trying to decide if the fox should speak in modern slang or not. Ten minutes later, the girlfriend started talking to her friend on Instant Messenger. “Who are you talking to?” I asked.
“My friend,” she said. “She says you suck.”
I could see what was happening. My refusal to go get the strawberry yogurt was turning me into a terrible boyfriend, the kind of guy girls bitch about on IM. In addition, I was struck by the fact that she was so angry about the yogurt, she had to find a friend to hate on me with RIGHT THEN. It couldn’t wait. This wasn’t like What’s Love Got To Do With It, where Tina Turner endured Ike for years before putting her foot down. No, my girlfriend didn’t get her yogurt, and she was ready to seek action now.
And her course of action was making me look bad in front of her friend which, truth be told, was a very effective strategy.
On went the pants, the hair was combed, the jacket went on, the IPod was picked up (blasted Beatles For Sale, repeating track number two, I’m a Loser), and the talking fox was put on hold. I went down and bought the yogurt, and five minutes later I was back. I placed the yogurt and a spoon in front of her and waited.
The yogurt just sat there while she kept talking to her friend. A little while later, she took the yogurt and put it in the fridge.
“What the hell?” I stammered. “Aren’t you going to eat the yogurt?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I’ll eat it tomorrow.”
This was insanity. It would be like me asking her to cook me a cheeseburger and then choosing not to eat it. Or having her pour me a beer, only to ignore it like it was a cup of V8.
“If you’re not going to eat the yogurt, why did you want me to buy it so badly?”
“Because I want you to show me that you love me.”
So, there you have it. Sometimes a strawberry yogurt isn’t just a strawberry yogurt. Perhaps, I got to thinking, this is a difference between how men and women see things. I am a man, and I see nothing but a small container of yogurt (which sits in the fridge as we speak, daring me to eat it myself). She, on the other hand, sees a symbol. That yogurt, to her, represents everything that makes a relationship work – selflessness, willingness to put work in, care, wanting to please the person you’re with – and for her, eating it is far less important than having it.
Everything said and done, I’m happy with how things turned out. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, there are other symbols of love that women sometimes ask for that are much, much more frightening than yogurt.