Sometimes you just have to eat
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.