It had been a perfectly ordinary meal with family. The clanking of silverware, the low buzz of conversation, the lame attempts to make the waitress a part of the experience.

“My name is Vicki and I’ll be your server.”

“Hello, Vicki. My name is Paul and I’ll be your diner.”

“Ha! Ha! Ha! I never heard THAT one before! I should kill you with a fork.”

Dinner in a fine restaurant. Good food, good meat, good God, let’s eat.

Then I dropped a bombshell.

“You know, eating is a huge waste of time and energy. Three times a day, you’ve got to drop everything and cram stuff in your mouth. The human body is just an inefficient machine. Frankly, I wish we could get our nutrition in pill form.”

An audible gasp from across the table. Somebody dropped a spoon and it clanged on a plate. Jaws dropped open, revealing partially chewed bits of steak and carrots and those freaky yellow things that look like miniature cobs of corn stolen from elves.

Conversation came to a halt, not just at our table but all across the vast room. What I had uttered was apostasy.

“You don’t mean it,” a member of my party gasped across the table. My wife tossed her napkin onto her plate and ran off crying. My father-in-law grimaced and shook his head, mumbling about how he always suspected. Vicki the waitress rushed back to our table, red-faced and fuming.

“Sir, some of the other customers are uncomfortable with your presence in this establishment. I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Please don’t make me call the Food Police.”

I exaggerate, maybe, but not all that much. Express disdain for the act of eating and food-lovers everywhere will rise up out of their salads and stews to brand you a freak. They take offense at the notion, as though you said awful (but hilarious) things about their mothers. They attempt to educate you on the exquisite pleasure that is putting dead things into your mouth, chewing and swallowing.

“Eating is one of the greatest joys in life,” says one.

“If it weren’t for eating,” says another, “we wouldn’t have bacon!”

“If you don’t eat your meat,” says Pink Floyd, “you can’t have any pudding.”

They will pronounce you lazy and stupid, ungrateful and unhinged.

They will wrestle you to the floor and try to shove a thick slice of their Aunt Martha’s Bundt cake down your throat.

Although, to be fair, that only happened the one time.

I stand by my case. The act of eating is a massive time suck and frequently an annoyance. It’s not just planning to eat, preparing to eat and actually eating, it’s the whole intellectual drain that precedes it.

“So, what do you want to eat?”

“I dunno. What do YOU want to eat?”

“I dunno. Do you want to dine in or dine out?”

“I dunno, what do we have?”

“Ramen and Saltines. So I guess we’ll eat out.”

“OK, where do you want to go?”

“I dunno, where do YOU want to go?”

I’ve been known to enjoy a prime rib from time to time. My wife makes a great lasagna and I could probably eat pizza every day if it came to that. It’s not the food itself, you see, but the biological demand for it.

Three times a day, you have to drop everything and burn precious mental resources figuring out what to put in your mouth. Then you have to sit down and eat and then you have to burp. Fail to do so and you’ll die. It’s non-negotiable.

Me, I cheat the system by eating only once a day and doing it as fast as possible. Like a shark or a … I don’t know, some kind of scavenger bird. This frees me up to spend more time pursuing my ultimate goal of creating food in capsule form. And when that time comes, I may be the only one using it because by and large, the indulgent eaters of the world wouldn’t give up mealtime even if they could.

Not even if I made the capsule bacon-flavored.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. Send recipes, menus and culinarian scorn to [email protected]


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