Events pair well with food, such as youth group activity night and pizza. In the 90s I was a youth pastor, and at first, I asked parents to rotate covering the Domino’s order and beverages for the teenage horde. I soon ditched the idea, because food-logistics parent (usually the mom) would figure on four kids per eight-slice pizza. At this point, I remind you of the science class video or nature documentary that shows a plague of caterpillars consuming shrubs voraciously, leaving only destruction. Each does not stop at two leaves. Young teens are like larvae.
Most would start by snatching their two slices immediately, although a few conscientious kids (which existed back then) would take just one, anticipating the crisis and striving for the common good. After the initial offering, only scattered remnants remained. Then from their crouched positions, a small pack of primal aggressors would attack, snatching up the scraps in a funnel cloud of blue and red cardboard. Other than a few assailants, the crowd would endure the ordeal unsatisfied and underfed, though disturbingly energized by off-brand sugary soda.
I don’t hold it against the parents. They weren’t cheap, only optimistically unaware while trying not to break the bank. I don’t hold it against the teenagers. Brains don’t begin to form until age 18. It’s a hormone- and stomach-driven situation. Sadly, though, the reliable ratio is more like three kids per two pizzas, regardless of how underwhelming the takeout.
Yet the situation could be worse at a breakfast event if it promised bacon. It takes large money, time, and cooking space to offer up a legitimate pancakes-and-bacon breakfast for a crowd of appetites. Nevertheless, a few years later while working as a schoolteacher, I did see it done right by the parents of our school’s administrator. They were the benevolent foodservicing godparents of our school community, and their son was wise to bring them on board for events such as the annual fifth-grade campout at a regional amusement park.
In my profession I taught high schoolers, but “volunteered” to help with this elementary event. We awoke to meat perfume wafting through our tent fabric: the heavenly essence of bacon slabs that Bob & Janet had been frying up since 4:00 a.m. We all enjoyed and suffered the aroma throughout morning devotions and announcements, after which I made my way to the back of the food line, not unselfishly, but because I first had leadership details to take care of and a guitar to stash away. But to my delight, large pans of bacon were still being rotated in as I arrived at the serving station. I picked a couple little pancakes, skipped the fruit, and told the servers to “keep it comin’…keep it comin’” with the tongs of meat. Maybe a half pound, I don’t know, but it covered even the decoratively embossed edges of my large polystyrene foam plate.
I say truthfully that every youngster and adult there was satiated with bacon. Most would have returned for thirds, but the park rides were calling and frankly, the kids just didn’t believe that there could be more. As the long row of folding tables cleared out, I decided to go back for another load. You know, just to be polite. No pancakes this time, just a plate of the glorious crispy protein, and I returned to a different seat, across from Morgan, a gregarious tomboy who, surprisingly, hadn’t yet rushed to the rides.
Just as I was preparing to make some small talk with the little spitfire, and right as I noticed that her plate looked exactly like mine, she stopped eating abruptly and looked up at me, apparently to beat me to the conversation starter. But she had no chatter in mind. Not even a greeting. Morgan had only a declaration to make—a testimony to offer to me, another human being, for posterity. She looked me straight in the eyes, glanced back to her plate, then again pierced in on me, and announced, “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life.”
The uttered truth. I had felt this also but had not spoken of it. Unlimited bacon—most of us protect ourselves from dreaming such preposterous things. But Morgan held the dream, and I’ll never forget the day we enjoyed its fulfillment.
Copyright © 2022 Richard Berndt – All Rights Reserved.
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