Joyce, a mutual friend of ours, noticed me observing her cut a slice of cheesecake and place it carefully on a plate. A few crumbs from the graham cracker crust flaked off onto the table top. She picked each one up by meticulously smashing them with her index finger and then licking them. Fearing she figured out that I was conducting an experiment on gender-based cheesecake consumption, I tried to gloss things over, and, boy, did I say the wrong thing. “My, Joyce, you have quite an appetite. I think that’s great.” I blurted out these words without considering their effect. Still not thinking, and self-admittedly obtuse when it comes to the female of our species, I called to my wife. “Honey? Get out the reserve plate from the frig.” I realized instantly that I had made the situation worse. The other guests stared into their plates trying to come up with a new conversation topic. The rosacea on Evelyn's face, by the way, turned extra red, and she hadn't touched the chocolate cheesecake nor the M&M's I offered her earlier.
“Oh, I’m sorry," came Joyce's belated response. "I guess I am gobbling this thing down, aren’t I?” Another awkward pause ensued for five seconds and I swear it seemed like five minutes. “They’re so good." She laughed nervously and manufactured a fake smile for appearances' sake. "I should start back on my diet, you’re right.” No-one could miss the indignant tone in her voice. If you make a faux pas like I certainly did, quickly recover with a compliment. “Your blouse is cute, by the way." I mentioned the only women's store I know (because it's located next to Barnes & Noble), thinking I needed a bit more detail for chit-chat. "Did you get that at Lane Bryant?” During pillow talk time with my wife later in the night, I learned I had made yet another gaffe.
Here’s the way it's supposed to happen. You’re all sitting around the table. Enough time has elapsed since the meal. You talk in the most amiable, polite voice you can muster: “Bill? Joyce? Karen? Evelyn? Would you care for some dessert?” “Why, yes, I would,” Joyce responds. “Thank you, sweetheart, for asking.” The sweetheart reference repulses you, but you bite the bullet and press on. Your wife lays out the goodies, and you supply the plates and forks. Simply thus. Don't get out a notebook; don't start gawking at their plates. Merely make a mental note, and utilize peripheral vision.
So why should we trouble ourselves with such an experiment? That's a good question. I suppose it satisifies my curiosity. I suspect a physiological or cultural explanation for the preponderance of women who choose the cheesecake. And I should make it clear that if you're a guy and you choose cheesecake over other dessert options, I don't intend to impugn your masculinity. There's always been at least one guy who'll nibble on it. It's not %100. So consider yourself part of the ten percent club on cheesecake.
I have toyed with a few theories to account for these test results. Perhaps it has something to do with the process of making cheesecake, or cheese at any rate. After all, enzyme and estrogen both start with the letter E. This is possibly a coincidence but highly doubtful. Another theory I'm developing is called the Motherly Instinct theory. Women, according to this theory, like cheesecake because this particular dessert, arguably, is a bit more dairy heavy, and women, as lactating nurturers, identify with it. Perhaps someday, somehow, the results of this study will lead to the cure for cancer, breast cancer especially, given the whole cheesecake-breast connection I've established. I'm just throwing that out. You never know. Now, some uneducated people would suggest these theories are lame, but you, faithful Der Viator readers, appreciate the scientific spirit of inquiry as much as I do. Remember what they said about Copernicus.