If you dislike French fries, you can stop reading now and we can no longer be friends. Sorry… it was nice knowing you.
My evening of co-ed softball ran late. Earlier, via text, I had declared to my family that it was a YOYO dinner night (you’re on your own). I rarely get push back on a YOYO night as this means my teens will gladly make 10 pounds of Ramen Noodles. Or, the complete opposite: I’ll come home and both will have not eaten, looking like famished children from a third world country. They’ll say something like, “Is there anything to eat? I’m starving.” I reply with, “Grrrrrrr.” That’s a growl in case you don’t speak mama bear.
Nonetheless, on this particular evening, at approximately 9 pm, I happened to be driving past a Wendy’s and I chose to be the thoughtful mother who asks if anyone is interested in some fast food. It amazes me how it takes hours for my kids to reply to a text that asks something to the effect of Hi, how was your day? But toss out Hey, heading through Wendy’s drive-through… want anything? and my phone immediately explodes with replies detailing their orders. Obviously, it was a “starving child in Africa” (with a cell phone) kind of evening.
I learned long ago to put my family’s individual fast food orders into separate bags for ease of disbursement. This particular night, everyone wanted large French fries for some reason. Waiting patiently at the drive-through window, I catch the delectable scent of potatoes being cooked.
“Sorry, ma’am, it’ll be just a minute, we had to make a fresh batch of fries,” says the 15-year-old with the Britney Spears mic on.
“Oh, no worries,” I reply as I wipe the drool from the corner of my mouth and pat my growling tummy.
“Here you go! Have a great night!”
“Oh, I will. You do the same. Thank you!”
With four bulging bags of fast food, I begin my drive home. Mind you, my own personal order contained a baked potato and salad, as I know I shouldn’t be eating French fries at 9:30 at night. I mean, come on, that’s healthy eating 101. Nonetheless, the salty, freshly fried potato delights were in my car and I was in control. Or possibly, some could say, I lost control as I slowly skimmed off each bag of fries. The oncoming lights from cars didn’t deter me from swiping one or two here, three to four there. The red lights provided an extra few minutes to safely devour additional savory spuds. One more from this one, another from that bag. He barely even eats his fries, I justify, while chomping on another perfectly crisped one.
Five miles, 10 minutes and a half an order of French fries later, I arrive home and assess the damage. There definitely needed to be some redistribution. So I take a few fries from this bag, add it to that one, scoop some from the bottom of this bag and equally balance all fry containers. There. No one will know the difference. I giggle inwardly at the extent of my cover up.
Like the bread lines during the great depression, my family lines up for their grub. I present each bag to the proper outstretched hand and start assembling my salad. With quiet anticipation, I wait. Will anyone notice the havoc I’ve wreaked on the French fry population?
“Huh, they went short on the fries this time,” comments my daughter.
“Yeah, I barely got any,” replies my son. Who, by the way, is the one who usually could care less about French fries. I sometimes wonder if he’s mine.
“Well, probably best. It’s kinda late to be eating a ton of fries right now anyway,” I lie. “So, how was everyone’s day?”
Upon reflection, I realized the French fry frenzy was a simple case of longing for the forbidden fruit. By denying myself French fries for all these years, I unleashed a quiet hunger. Honestly, even though I ate those divine fries in the dark, in my car, without savoring every bite—they were the most delicious things that have grazed my mouth in a long time. And I don’t regret a thing. I do regret not ordering French fries more often.