This past week was a week filled with travel, family, travel, friends, travel, fun and, yes, more travel. Perhaps the only thing I did more than travel about God’s beautiful, green countryside (and refill my coffee cup) was eat at restaurants. Dietsch Brothers and Vino’s on Tuesday. Mister Lee’s Express and Dietsch Brothers on Wednesday. Bob Evans and Rossilli’s on Thursday. Wendy’s, Dietsch Brothers and the country club on Friday. And, Bar Louie’s on Saturday.
That loosely translates into ice cream, Italian, Chinese, ice cream, a salad and rolls, more Italian, chili and some French fries, ice cream, some appetizers, a salad, wedding cake and, finally, another salad. Toss in a box of granola bars and a bag of apples for breakfasts, and you have my meals for five days. An almost food coma by my standards.
You can say it: “Cry me a river, Jill. You ate a lot of good food all week long (and a lot of ice cream), and we don’t need to hear you complain about it.” Oh, no. I’m not complaining. I’m sharing. It’s what I do. Plus, it’s kind of a funny story, so stay with me.
First, you should know something about me: I don’t mind dining out every now and then, but every meal every day for almost a full week is a bit much. Even one meal out per day every day is a lot. Maybe it’s because of the health nut in me and the subtle fear I have of clogging my arteries. Or because of the time I spent working in the food restaurant business. I suspect, however, that it has more to do with my parents’ eating-out habits.
One time, my brothers and I were little. OK, less little, more young. Our parents, whose own parents did not have much opportunity for dining out, often took us out to dinner, particularly on the weekends. We’d order in pizza from the Pizzeria on Fridays or go to Pizza Hut on Saturdays to take advantage of all the books we read and subsequent personal-pan pizzas we won via the school’s Book-It program. Sometimes we’d go to Western Sizzlin or Ryan’s or Ponderosa. Often, we’d even do lunch at Taco Bell (our first rat terrier puppy was named Fajita) or Subway before having dinner out. And, we’d always stop by Arby’s or McDonald’s or Captain D’s (or maybe even Taco Bell again) after church on Sundays. Before possibly going out for dinner. Again.
True story. It really happened.
Don’t get me wrong, Mom could cook, and she did periodically. But, given her druthers, she’d opt for going out for lunch or dinner—sometimes both—every day and twice on Sunday. She once came across a saying on a piece of wall art that read: “I have a kitchen because it came with the house”—a phrase she got a kick out of, not because it was crazy but because it was true. In short, my parents enjoy dining out. A lot. Don’t believe me? Call one of their cell phones around noon-ish on any given day and ask where they’re at.
Anyway, in high school, I began to boycott the process. I can remember asking my parents if it would be OK if I stayed home and simply ate a bowl of cereal. Or had a cold meat sandwich. I soon stopped asking and began simply saying, “Thanks, but I’m staying home.” In college, I’d come home for dinner if my mom could guarantee me in advance that we would eat something at home that had been made at home. She had to agree to both parts of the statement. It did not count if she picked up something and brought it home.
Things haven’t changed for my parents. Or for me. They still love to dine out, and I still prefer to dine in. Even if it is on a bowl of cereal. Which makes traveling more difficult, because it’s tough to travel with a box of cereal and a gallon jug of milk. Hence the granola bars and apples.
On Saturday, I was out shopping with my friend Erin, and as it was well past lunchtime, I asked if she wanted to grab a bite to eat, my treat.
“Actually, I have cold meats at the house,” she replied. “We could just make a sandwich there.”
“Bless you, Erin!” was my immediate thought. I still had one more meal out before heading home, and I was already anticipating it being a salad with no dressing, chased with water. Maybe now I could afford to have some of the dressing.
I’d like to say that I spent Sunday and today recuperating from all my time dining out by interchanging a running/training circuit with chewing on celery sticks, but alas, the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday arrived with a bang and delicious goodies. You know, the turkey-ham-cranberry-potatoes-squash-dressing-pie-chocolates-cheesecake variety. And celery sticks, of course. At least I vaguely remember seeing celery sticks as I swallowed a bite of pumpkin cheesecake. Mmmm.
Here’s to dining out or dining in. And going to the gym daily. And to cereal—the most delicious food ever made. The end.