Category Archives: Slightly off topic…

Where the Streets are Paved with Food

A few years ago, I wrote an article about how things really aren’t so bad, how we’ve made such huge strides in terms of recycling and general eco-awareness that we should feel good about ourselves. I cited our collective use of reusable bags at the supermarket and compared it to how the prior generation used to toss garbage out of their car windows on the highway. I painted a pretty rosy picture, and now I’d like to take it all back.

When I wrote that upbeat article, I was viewing the world from my natural habitat – my car. As I drove through the sparkling streets of our town, there were mailboxes and window boxes in my line of vision. At 30 miles an hour, you miss a few details.

But now I have a dog, and my new eye view is from the end of his leash. And because all of you also have dogs, this won’t be news to you. In fact, you may have collectively laughed at the cluelessness of my prior article. The truth is our streets are paved with food.

I walk my dog on the same loop every day. That loop might as well by the Sunday buffet at Westchester Country Club. My dog finds discarded McDonalds bags that contain perfectly good chicken nuggets. He’s come across a plastic container of Costco cookies, mostly in tact. He’s happened upon an entire pepperoni pizza just sitting there on the grass. I didn’t go so far as to check to see if it was still warm, but it looked delicious. One day he found an entire bran muffin on someone’s front lawn. That didn’t end well.

I spend most of these walks imagining how these treats came to litter the streets around my house. I imagine a woman leaving Costco with that delicious package of 12 chocolate chip cookies, excited to surprise her kids after school. Maybe she’ll just have one on the way home. That one turns into two and is looking frighteningly like three. She realizes she can’t be trusted around so much lard and goodness. In a panic, she tosses the rest out her car window and flees.

A child asks his mom to get him a muffin from Le Pain Quotedien. He’s imagining blueberry or cinnamon. The well-meaning mom shows up with bran. Maybe she’s the same one who can’t be trusted around cookies and is trying to model good choices. Her son takes one look at that bran muffin and decides he’ll chuck it in the bushes on his way to school. With any luck, he’ll come across a few cookies in someone’s driveway.

The pizza remains a mystery to me. Who leaves a whole pizza on the side of the road? It might be a lovers’ game. One sends a secret message: I’m leaving you a gift under the shrubbery on the northwest corner of Forest and Manursing. The lover arrives to find two slices missing, compliments of my dog. Romance fini.

It’s bad enough that my dog spends the morning grazing around the neighborhood, eating everyone’s discarded junk food. What’s worse is that he likes to bring the food home to eat. I have to stay alert as he drags a McDonald’s bag into my house to dissect it in private. In my living room. One false move and there’s a punctured ketchup packet on my white rug, perfect for dipping his 10 piece chicken nuggets.

People You Might See At Thanksgiving

The Hostess. In my family we refer to her as “Stefanie”, and boy is she a chump. She’s hosted Thanksgiving for the past I-don’t-know-how-many years. For her birthday I gave her a gravy ladle, which is just like your husband giving you a broom. It’s a gift that says “you can feel free to keep… Continue Reading

I Went to the DMV

I walk into the White Plains DMV not for the first time. I vaguely remember that I have to park on the roof and descend a flight of stairs that might give way at any moment. My husband has just gotten a really good deal on a used car, and I have been tasked with… Continue Reading

The Cleanse

There’s nothing more annoying than a person on a cleanse. Or even just a person who wants to talk about their diet: what they’re eating, what they’re not eating, what they have eaten but are not likely to eat again. A recent conversation with a man who was in the middle of a month of… Continue Reading

The Headshot Decision

A single friend of mine just joined a dating site and showed me, with much hilarity, a string of guys who have expressed interest in her. There was nothing really wrong with these guys on the surface; they seemed normal enough. But it was the profile photos they’d chosen that cracked me up – three… Continue Reading

The Untold History of Thanksgiving

It’s important to remember the genesis of Thanksgiving, lest we all just start to see it as a stomach-stretching warm up for the actual holidays. The first Thanksgiving was a shared meal between the pilgrims and the Native Americans, one where they gave thanks for all they had and set the tone for who we… Continue Reading

Other People’s Problems

Sometimes, when I’m busy not writing my novel, I daydream about finishing my students’ novels. My mind floods with ideas to fill in their story gaps. I dream up surprise endings and pages of snappy dialog. While driving the other day, I decided that one of my student’s characters should have a heavy suitcase at the… Continue Reading

Never Say Never

I’ve come to accept the fact that I should never say never. In fact, as I get older, it seems that every time I shun some activity with the words “I’d never,” I immediately go ahead and do it. Examples include getting my fourth grader his own phone, leaving my kids alone overnight and buying… Continue Reading

Wake Me Up When The Election’s Over

We’re almost there, people. The election is just over the hump of the weekend, and the end is actually in sight. I tend to like a salacious and horrifying story, the inner-workings of human drama. But there’s no thrill in this election. It just feels prickly and uncomfortable, like the angora sweater my grandmother bought… Continue Reading

Local Woman Gets Angry in Person

The other day I was stopped at an intersection, looking both ways as I’ve been told to do, when the woman in the car behind me started honking repeatedly to encourage me to take the plunge. I wasn’t in the mood for a fiery death, so I waited for the traffic to clear in both… Continue Reading

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