So you’re thinking, “Great, there’s going to be dinner at this event, I can rush around like a squirrel all afternoon and get changed and rush out the door again and get some nummies at this thing. EXCELLENT. FREE FOOD.”
Except that you’re at the event and starving, or pretty close to it. You have a tongue coated with old coffee and therefore have dragon breath and low blood sugar and the caffeine shakes and you’re trying to be present to the event and to represent your congregation or organization in an appropriately pleasant way while secretly praying with all your might that the server will please…. God… get… here… with… the … bread… basket…
That’s no good, pigeons! What would mama say?
Have you ever skipped breakfast on Sundays because there’s going to be FREE FOOD at coffee hour and you know you count on that? Don’t. Because realistically, you can’t count on it. You know how it is: you’ve greeted people in the narthex at the conclusion of the service and by the time you get to fellowship hour, most of the snacks are gone baby, gone. If you’re ravenous at that point, you’re going to be carrying on a nice conversation with parishioners or visitors while surreptitiously trying to inch your way backwards toward the crumbs of coffee cake that you’re thinking you might just moosh onto your moistened finger and pop into your mouth, because… COFFEE CAKE.
Remember that episode of “Laverne and Shirley” where the girls had to go straight to a fancy party after having participated in a study on food and sleep deprivation? CLASSIC! There have been times that I’ve felt like Shirley Feeny pouncing on a crumb that fell off the banquet onto the carpet.
I am starting to realize that even “meet and greet” occasions (e.g. the fundraising auctions, the receptions to honor someone, the community event where you’ll be accepting or giving an award) where I’m counting on appetizers to tide me over until I can get a meal is no time to be trying to time bites of food with conversation and socializing. Having attempted that too many times, I know I must learn to resist the siren song of HEY, FREE FOOD in favor of not having to worry about accidentally spitting a bit of chewed stuffed mushroom appetizer into the eye of a local official.
It’s hard, untraining ourselves from the Pavlovian seminary experience of flocking like vultures to whatever event offered free nosh. HDS grads, do they still have the weekly Dean’s Tea? I remember peeling over to tea after classes on Wednesdays or Thursdays and eating cubes of cheese, crackers, crudite, and like, twenty cookies. That was dinner! Some of my fellow divines stuffed cookies into their pockets, because it was cookies or ramen in those days. The cookies were FREE.
It’s not just you being klutzy. Managing the balancing a plate or napkin, chewing and swallowing in between conversing with human beings is a huge challenge. We have all spilled a glop of mustard on our fronts seconds after remembering that it’s totally rude to speak with our mouths full. We’re all cavemen when we’re hungry– reptilian brain smells edibles and grunts “FOOD! MUST HAVE.” If you can afford it, take the time to nourish yourself properly before going to the Thing Where There Will Be Free Food. If you can’t afford it, please take someone into your trust who can provide a meal for you. Seminarian and clergy poverty is no laughing matter. I would certainly want a student intern to confide in me as a clergy supervisor or lay member of a church if they were experiencing food insecurity or hunger. It is no trouble at all to do a plus one to my cooking, and I’m not alone in thinking so. It’s not okay that any of you are going hungry, and you should never have to put on a brave front and count on social events for your meals. OKAY? That’s why God made Tupperware.
That said, there’s no reason in the world to eat this disgusting snack that I keep in my office drawer, because life is just too short. This is a truly, genuinely disgusting snack that tastes like blueberry flavored horse dirt, and I don’t even know what horse dirt IS. I just made it up because it’s richly descriptive. Also, the chia seeds will get stuck in your teeth.