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Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels

My sister’s friend, Stella, is trained like Pavlov’s dog to react in a most bizarre manner whenever a car is about to pull out of her driveway. “Wait,” she yells to us, flailing her hands and running to the house. Minutes later she emerges, arms laden with bags of snacks, “Here,” she says, “take these so you don’t starve on the way.” Now, it doesn’t matter if the trip is expected to last 20 minutes or four hours, the scenario is always the same.

The last time this happened my sister was embarking on a one-hour drive. Out dashed the frenzied Stella, rushing to the passenger side. Frantically, she began stuffing food through the windows: nuts and chips, crackers and health bars, apples and a nice sandwich, water to wash it down, and some lovely little chunks of dark chocolate for “desert.” My 97-pound sister’s protests were met with the admonishment to keep the food in the front seat, “just in case.” In case of what? Did Stella really think that my sister would suffer a sudden onset of interstate starvation before the one-hour trip could be completed?

So here is the question: are you a victim of a driveway pusher? Or, even worse, are you “that woman” who has never turned a car away from her cooler? Do you harbor irrational fears that your loved ones might suffer a moment of hunger on their voyage to and fro, from your house to theirs? Or….when you pack your car for a trip to the family reunion, do you squeeze in the children to make room for the chips, lest the fragile babes quietly perish from hunger in the back seat?

Again, we all either know someone like this, or we are someone like this! What is it about a car ride that brings out this kind of behavior in the best of us? Maybe there is a link to our ancestral nomads who had to pack enough seeds and nuts to sustain them on their uncertain journeys from point A to B. Maybe the urge to four-wheel dine is imprinted in our reptilian brain, but I’m pretty sure that in this day and age our bodies are tough enough to withstand a few hours of travel without risking death from starvation.

There is another explanation for the Stellas of the world, who would never dream of eating junk when their feet are on the ground. You see, there is a concept known to many as “free food:” food that can be eaten without the danger of the calories sticking. “Free food” is found in rituals, secular and religious. The breads and wines consumed as part of religious rituals are “free,” just as are the donuts and tuna salad sandwiches consumed as part of the secular road trip ritual. Again, I am sorry to burst your bubbles, but I am here to tell you that “free food” is a myth, an urban legend! Nothing in life is free!

All kidding aside, please understand that every time you pack up your loved one’s car with food for their pilgrimage back home, know for sure that you are teaching your children some very bad eating habits by creating an unhealthy association with the car and food. So, next time a beloved friend or family member is venturing out of the driveway, have faith that they will survive without the Slurpee and salami sandwich!

Just Lose It!

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