If It Feels Good, Dean Probably Does It
I read a conversation on Tumblr awhile back about how Dean had an eating disorder caused by his near starvation as a child. I beg to differ, like strongly.
First, I don’t think there’s any evidence that Dean really went hungry. Yes, we have the scene of him letting Sam have the last bowl of Lucky Charms, but had Dean been starving he wouldn’t have thrown the Spaghettios that he made for Sam into the trash. He would have eaten them. I will concede that both Dean and Sam probably made do quite frequently however. They didn’t get to eat whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it. It’s pretty clear that they are more familiar with convenience stores than groceries stores, and greasy spoons and fast food are more their economic level than restaurants with cloth napkins.
Second, Dean’s response to food is quite similar to his response to any creature comfort. Dean is a hedonist. Growing up with thin, scratchy motel towels, hard beds, poor water pressure; canned spaghetti or gas station hotdogs; no close friends or steady girl — it’s no wonder that he grabs pleasure where he can. He understands that it is fleeting. So whether it’s a bacon-cheeseburger or a roll in the hay with a woman, he goes for it. Sam, on the other hand, goes for quality food when he can; hence his attraction to salads and organic apples. They probably didn’t get much fresh produce as kids. For all we know however, he isn’t just being healthy. Perhaps, he really likes them.
Notice that I haven’t mentioned pie? That’s because pie isn’t just pleasure to Dean. It isn’t just a tasty dessert. It’s something that his mother made for him. He associates it with love. Frequently, we see Dean asking Sam to get pie for him. This isn’t just about wanting pie; it’s asking Sam to show him some affection. Of course, Sam doesn’t understand that because he never had a mom to make pie for him. He doesn’t get it, and that’s why he huffs about it and is perplexed when Dean looks so disappointed when he doesn’t get it for him. Remember when Sam said that cake was the same thing as pie and Dean was completely bewildered by the suggestion?
See, Dean had four years of creature comfort with a mother and father in a stable home. It’s ironic that Sam is the one that longs for a “normal” life. Maybe that’s because all he knew of normal while growing up was from watching sitcoms and as an outsider looking in at the lives of his classmates. In season 1, Sam tells Dean that going away to college wasn’t about “normal,” it was about not being afraid. Dean knew from the moment he carried Sam from their burning house that living a normal life was no reason to live without fear. Sam learned that with Jess. Dean relearned it with Lisa and Ben. Sam’s reaction to Dean’s fake text from Amelia in Citizen Fang shows that he knows it in his marrow still.
Dean’s reaction to the Men of Letters bunker is classic Dean the Hedonist. Yes, it’s about home but it’s also about the water pressure, the kitchen where he can make tasty food, the awesome memory foam bed, the Scotch, the nice bathrobe. It’s about creature comforts — pleasure. It’s as though Dean had come full circle. He’s found a place that he can relax, be with his brother, enjoy himself as he would have as a child. It is as safe a place, i.e. without fear, as they can hope for, which is why it was a mystery to me that they immediately began bringing people there. Not just Charlie or Kevin (and why didn’t they take Kevin there sooner?) or Castiel — but Prometheus and his family? And Crowley? What the hell? Ah, never mind, just one of the many things about S8 that didn’t make sense.
Point is, Dean’s reaction to his childhood is understandable and not particularly unhealthy. Sam on the other hand … It was actually interesting to see how far from true north Sam was at the end of S8. Certainly it was something that many of us suspected. Sam is good at being a chameleon, at pretending to be whatever others expect him to be. Funny that many fans think of Sam as the emotional one when that is patently untrue. Dean is the emotional one; Sam is the empathetic one, which is why he’s able to put up such a good facade. For how many seasons now have we watched him pretend to not be as wrecked mentally and emotionally and even physically as he is, so that he won’t be a burden on Dean. Even Dean didn’t suspect just how much Sammy was faking it. He had no idea — as many fans apparently didn’t — that Sam’s self-worth issues were just as huge as his own.
Not that I’m completely off topic … To conclude, Dean has 99 problems and food ain’t one of them.
- Keeping Secrets? (samanddeanbrothersinarms.wordpress.com)