Recently, as I was driving back to Connecticut from New York City on the Merritt Parkway, my favorite way back to “the country,” I began feeling droopy approaching New Haven, and I thought some good old junk food would hit the spot. At least I figured it would wreak some havoc with my blood sugar and give it an unhealthy spike surprising my senses just enough – before the guilt would set in – to keep me awake for the home stretch to Hartford.
The fantasizing and planning phase of the service area stop was in and of itself perking me up; I was scheming about going straight for the good old candy and chips isle for some sweet and salty delights. And of course a Diet Coke. Note the Diet. I visualized my move as I would swiftly snag a bag of Munchos, those “light and crispy” artery cloggers that are so processed and salty they have probably been banned from most modern day snack venues, despite the fact that they are made from a vegetable. I think there was some low-carb potato in there at some point in the process.
I pull in to the next service stop – and I should add that along the quaint Merritt Parkway, the historic limited-access “highway” known for its scenic layout, uniquely styled signage, and architecturally elaborate overpasses along the route, the service stations have been recently renovated. The new bathrooms have a spa-like aura painted in subdued trendy colors with matching earthy mosaic tiles and automatic everything as well as soft background music. I enter the facilities with the focus and determination of a Federal agent on a top priority mission, and make a beeline for the snack section. Looking for my designated junk booty, my eyes give way to a worrisome scan of what appears to be a Whole Foods mini-mart. Where’s the junk?!? Granola this, yogurt that. Wrappers screaming protein power and gluten free delights. Squirrel food I say. I want my junk!
And there, all the way in the back, on the hidden, narrow side of the rack; sad, forgotten and ignored like a bunch of reject kids on a dodge ball lineup at that awfully discriminatory and mean team selection moment in high school, there were my darlings.
I walked out gently and kindly holding a Twix, a bag of Muchos and a Diet Coke, as if I had rescued orphans that were in desperate need of love and affection. Poor things.
The rest of the drive home was a breeze, and as soon as I had killed my darlings, just as the guilt was about to set in but I was still high on God knows what, I gladly brushed it and all the crumbs away with another gulp of aspartame and caffeine and instead reflected on how even junk has its rightful and just place in the world.