By ZACK PLAIR
I need to cook more often.
As evidenced by the 25 pounds I’ve gained over the last 15 months, and the disturbing fact that my pants fit much more snugly than they used to, I have eaten far too many meals lately that were prepared by restaurants or fast food joints.
As a single father, there are so many nights where time is simply not on my side, as far as cooking, eating and being able to shoehorn in any quality time with my 4-year-old before getting her ready for bed. On those nights, I err on the side of convenience.
There are other evenings, however, when I actually do have enough time to get all of those things accomplished. Yet, either out of force of habit or just sheer laziness, I find myself again whipping into a drive-thru or making a quick run to the grocery store to pick up something microwavable.
For what it’s worth, I’m rather health conscious where Zayley is concerned. Rarely does she drink soda, I watch her portions, try not to give her foods that are too fatty, and even if I have to warm up a can of green beans on the stovetop, she always has either a fruit or vegetable with supper.
Where I’m concerned, however, my diet has unwittingly become pseudo-suicidal. I’ve been known to eat candy for breakfast, pizza as often as possible, and when I’m ordering at a fast food place, I’m bound to come away with something served with bacon.
For quite some time, I’ve known I needed to get a handle on my diet. But just like with everything else, people don’t usually break away from bad habits until they’re faced with either a jarring wake-up call or some kind of life-changing consequence. I received my wake-up call this weekend … in a kind of creepy, yet adorable, fashion.
My daughter was playing in the floor with her dolls. As she did so, she began the following dialogue between two of them:
Doll 1: “Welcome to Sonic. May I take your order?”
Doll 2: “Yes, I would like the two-piece chicken tender with apple slices and some juice.”
Doll 1: “Okay. Will there be anything else?”
Doll 2: “Oh yes. I want a really big burger with bacon, tater tots, mozzarella sticks and a Dr. Pepper. Oh, and on that burger, I want no mayo, add mustard.”
Doll 1: “Okay, no problem, your total will be $725 (she exaggerated a bit). Please pull up to the first window.”
Talk about an indictment. I’ve always heard that art imitates life, and raising Zayley has driven that lesson home with me more than once … and not always so comfortably. When my child was emulating me, she wasn’t “writing a story” or “putting together a newspaper.” She was ordering food at a drive-thru. And what’s worse, she got my order right, which is more than I can say sometimes for the people paid to do it.
So tonight when I get home, I will locate and dust off the cookbooks that my sister, aunt and mother gave me when I left Warren, Ark., in 2011. And come what may, I will ultimately turn the words on one of those pages into something edible. That said, wish me luck. I’m going to need it.
Zack Plair is editor of Starkville Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .