Some­times you just have to eat

San Francisco Chronicle - - DATEBOOK - NICK HOPPE Nick Hoppe’s col­umn ap­pears Tues­days in Date­book. Email: nick­

My wife and I were on a road trip last week­end and it was time for lunch. As usual, that was a prob­lem.

“What do you feel like eat­ing?” I asked, cring­ing, know­ing the same an­swer as al­ways was com­ing. “Some­thing healthy,” she replied. Here we go. We were on the free­way in the mid­dle of nowhere. “Some­thing healthy” didn’t ex­ist. Every exit was an in­vi­ta­tion to fast-food heaven, or hell, de­pend­ing on your tastes.

She pre­ferred to call it hell. I’m no fast-food junkie, but I’ll eat any­thing in mod­er­a­tion, and I was get­ting hun­grier by the minute. “How about a nice sand­wich at Sub­way?” I asked, spot­ting the fa­mil­iar sign that is pa­tron­ized by half the world.

“EWWWWW!” she cried. “You’ve got to be kid­ding. I hate sand­wiches, es­pe­cially ones with pro­cessed meat.”

I went through the list of pos­si­bil­i­ties that we might see in the next 30 min­utes of driv­ing. Her re­ac­tions didn’t sur­prise me: McDon­ald’s (“Gross.”), Burger King (“I’d rather die.”), Carl’s Jr. (“Dis­gust­ing.”), Taco Bell (“No com­ment.”), Panda Ex­press (“Are you jok­ing?”), Jack in the Box (“Kill me now.”) and fi­nally, in des­per­a­tion, Ken­tucky Fried Chicken (“I want a di­vorce.”)

It was pretty clear I was go­ing to starve. Un­less I pulled off the road and knocked on a farm­house door and asked for their lat­est pick­ings (af­ter first check­ing to see if they used any pes­ti­cides), I wasn’t go­ing to eat for a while.

Of course, I could stop on my own at a fast-food place and or­der only for me, but that’s not how mar­riages work. We were in this to­gether, and I was de­ter­mined to only make one stop that would please both of us. I sim­ply had to wait her out, as usual.

It’s not that I have any­thing against healthy food. I like healthy food. That’s be­cause I like all food. My wife is the op­po­site. She shops or­ganic, checks in­gre­di­ents and is highly crit­i­cal of any­thing that doesn’t meet her ex­alted stan­dards. It makes for con­stant bat­tles over where to eat, which was what was hap­pen­ing on this road trip.

“You know,” I said for the 100th time, “every meal doesn’t have to be a din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

“I just don’t like eat­ing crap,” she re­sponded for the 100th time. “There must be some­thing out here that is healthy.”

“You’re right,” I said. “Keep your eyes out for a Quinoa and Al­falfa Sprouts drive-thru.”

She didn’t find that hu­mor­ous. We stopped for gas and I went into the mini-mart and looked long­ingly at the pack­aged sand­wiches in the fridge with white bread and pro­cessed turkey and cheese. I thought about buy­ing one, but I didn’t want to take the abuse when I brought it back to the car.

I bought a Snick­ers bar in­stead, just enough to keep me alive un­til we found a healthy place for lunch, which of course didn’t ex­ist. But I also knew that if I was starv­ing, she was starv­ing, too. And it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore she broke.

Sure enough, af­ter seven more ex­its of look­ing for­lornly at var­i­ous fast-food out­lets that she wouldn’t pa­tron­ize un­less there were no other op­tions, she gave up. The last-chance free­way sign warn­ing “Next ser­vices 26 miles” put her over the top.

There was only one exit left be­fore star­va­tion. I pulled off the free­way and the Golden Arches loomed be­fore us. The only other op­tion on this exit was a Taco Bell, and she quickly made it clear she wasn’t in the mood for Mex­i­can food. McDon­ald’s it would be. Reluc­tantly. Very reluc­tantly.

Ath­letes that we were, we nixed the drive-through and chose to park and walk the 20 steps into the restau­rant, thus gain­ing valu­able ex­er­cise be­fore down­ing a glut of calo­ries. We strode right to the counter and the nice young woman asked what we would like.

My wife pe­rused the menu with dis­dain and con­sid­ered or­der­ing a salad, but was not happy with the dress­ing choices, which she deemed un­healthy. I could see the look of hor­ror on her face.

“Give me a Big Mac,” she said to the nice young woman. “And a medium fries and a Diet Coke.”

To­tal sur­ren­der. I or­dered my meal and we took it all back to the car, to eat on the road. I glanced over as she hun­grily de­voured her Big Mac. I think she liked it, but I’ll never know.

Of course, I could stop on my own at a fast-food place and or­der only for me, but that’s not how mar­riages work. We were in this to­gether.

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