Thursday, May 18, 2006

How I Eat

It’s a good thing that I never took up smoking. If I had, I’d be one of those guys that has about five different lit cigarettes in various stages of being smoked spread around in every ash tray of the house.

That’s assuming of course, that I would smoke with the same degree of self control that I exhibit when I eat snacks. And I think there is enough similarity between the two habits that that’s not a long stretch to make.

I often buy bags of potato chips from the vending machine and bring them back to my desk at work. Three minutes later, I absent-mindedly reach for another chip and discover — horror of horrors — the bag is empty.

And I don’t remember eating a single chip beyond the very first one.

My right hand is a venerable feeding machine. And my mouth is a most gracious receiving trough. The act is completely automatic and instinctive. It doesn’t matter if I’m actually hungry. If there is food within two feet of my right hand, it is scooped up and deposited into my stomach.

I used to work with a woman who had the exact opposite tendency. She was a tiny waif of a creature, and her eating habits matched her stature.

One time, a salesman brought a box of chocolates to me in the office so I decided to share them with my co-workers. I stopped at her desk and offered her a piece. Why yes, she graciously looked over the variety and picked one with the appropriate swirl.

Then she set it down on her desk next to her keyboard, smiled at me, and went back to work.

I almost fainted from the shock.

Waitaminnit! Don’t you understand? This is a piece of candy. A piece of chocolate  candy. It is designed specifically to be taken from the box and placed between your teeth. You don’t make a masterpiece like that wait until you’re in the mood to nibble on it. You devour  it. Then you look for the next one. And you repeat until the box is empty.

No thanks, she smiled. She’ll eat it later.

There was no reasoning with her.

Of course, this was the same 90-pound weakling that bought a bag of m&ms from the vending machine, sorted them by color, and lined them up on her desk to eat them one at a time. One “M” every ten or fifteen minutes.

She could make a three-minute bag last all week.

I may not have the most health-conscious eating habits in the world. But at least I appreciate the value of good, quality vending machine food. I only wish I could make it last longer.

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