The Irony of Praying Before a Meal of Junk Food

Bless this greasy burger and these Twinkies to the nourishment of our bodies and our bodies to your service…


Saying the “blessing” before a meal is a complicated and trying process when there is a group of three of more people. I was made most aware of the awkwardness/intenseness involving the procedure during my Junior High and High School years with my church youth group. It always amused me that we were constantly eating fast food and asking God to bless it to the nourishment of our bodies.

The intensity of it is this: I was a hungry kid with a high metabolism. There was food in front of me, but I couldn’t eat it because I had to wait for everyone to be ready for the prayer. That’s cruel for a kid of any age. (Even at 28.)

The awkwardness of it is this: No one knew who was going to be asked to pray. There’s a bit of a short waiting game as the Designated Pray Person is elected. (And by now, I’ve learned to elect myself.)

But for those who suffer, there is mercy. I’m referring to the It’s Okay to Eat Fries, Peanuts, and Chips & Salsa Before the Prayer rule. For some reason, God isn’t concerned with us not asking his blessing for unofficial appetizers. However, if there is an actual appetizer, like a Blooming Onion for example, a prayer of tha

nksgiving and blessing is required.

And one must always be aware of the Salad Bar Clause. When dining at a restaurant with a salad bar or optional buffet of any kind, it’s important to make sure that someone prays before the first person leaves to go to the buffet. Otherwise, everyone will be obligated to wait for the buffet-goers to get back to their seats before the prayer can be said and everyone can begin eating.

Such anxiety! It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

Quad Cities Proximity Initiative: Pretending You Know Where a City Is

Most Americans don’t know the capitol of Vermont or which states border Colorado, without cheating and looking at a map. Because like taking French or Spanish in high school, if what is learned is not applied on a semi-regular basis, then that knowledge disappears. Especially when it was just rogue memorization for a test we took a long time ago.

Since we don’t really know much about American geography, we use a system that gets us by. It gives the illusion that we are experts, when really we are just BS-ing our way through the conversation. I call it the “Quad Cities Proximity Initiative”. Most states consist of a minimum of four cities that we’ve at least heard of that pretty much cover the 4 corners of the state, even if we’ve never been to that state before; here are a few examples:

Ohio (Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland).
New York (New York City, Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany).
Florida (Jacksonville, Orlando, Tallahassee, Miami).
Georgia (Atlanta, Macon, Augusta, Savannah).

Here is an example of how this system works. The other day at work a guy from Indiana was trying to tell me where his hometown is. He said, “It’s about 50 miles south of Indianapolis…” Immediately I started shaking my head with an enthusiastic “oh yeah, yeah” which unabridged, it literally conveyed this message, “I am very familiar with the city you are talking about. I’ve been through there several times. Of course I know that place…” All because I have obviously heard of the state’s capitol, Indianapolis.

There are exceptions to the Quad Cities Proximity Initiative. Texas is huge and has more than 4 familiar cities; it has about 7. And there are those bite-size states like Delaware, where it doesn’t matter what city the person says, because the state only has 3 counties anyway.

When a person names a city I’ve heard of (even if I have no clue where in the state that city is) I give them confidence in me that I am following their lead in the conversation. It’s that simple. No need to stall a conversation because I can’t visualize where the city is. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Unless I’m driving there.