It was 7:30 on a recent Saturday morning. For the first time in weeks I did not have any urgent plans or appointments. I could relax all morning. For some odd reason, I had awakened briefly at 4 a.m. thinking about breakfast. (OK, it’s not that odd, especially for someone who insists on four square meals each day, plus multiple snacks in between.) I drifted back to sleep with visions of pancakes and French toast dancing in my head.
When I finally woke up and made my way into the kitchen, I saw a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the cupboard. Mmm, I thought, very tasty, and a lot less work compared to pancakes or French toast. So, I emptied the remainder of the box into a big bowl, then opened the refrigerator and grabbed the carton of almond milk. When I picked it up I realized right away the carton was very light. I held the carton in front of me and gently moved it in a circle so the milk would slosh around. Six decades of experience as a breakfast cereal aficionado kicked into gear, and I instinctively made a few instantaneous measurements and calculations. After a moment, I smiled and murmured, “Oh yeah, there’s just enough milk in here for one more bowl of cereal.”
I joyfully poured the milk into the bowl, and not surprisingly, I was exactly right: just enough for one more rather jumbo-sized serving. I then grabbed a big spoon and shoved it deep into the pile of cereal. Oh boy, I thought, this is going to taste great!
Being the environmentally conscious “green” fellow that I am, I decided first to rinse out the empty carton and then put it in the recycling bin with the empty cereal box. This slight pause allowed the anticipation to grow as my first huge spoonful of delectable cereal drew nearer and nearer. My mouth began to water.
As I turned on the faucet to begin rinsing out the carton, I noticed some dark green splotches on the little plastic spout. “What the…” I said, and looked closer. Oh no, mold! And there was more on the inside of the carton, too. Yuck, this is not what I had in mind when I described myself as a “green” fellow. I glanced at the expiration date on the edge of the carton. Last month! Rats!
I quickly turned toward the lovely bowl of cereal and swirled the spoon. The milk was all white, no sign of green. Instantly, a titanic battle began to rage within me. My stomach declared, “It’s fine! C’mon, let’s eat!”
But my brain said, “No, silly, the milk went bad. He’ll get sick.”
My stomach replied, “Well, how sick are we talking? He doesn’t have to go anywhere today. He could spend the afternoon laying on the couch, close to the bathroom.”
My brain rolled its eyes and said, “Oh, that’s ridiculous. Don’t you have any self-control at all?”
My stomach defiantly exclaimed, “No, that’s not my job! I’m here to make sure this poor lad gets enough sustenance each and every day.”
“You mean those four square meals and multiple snacks?” my brain said sarcastically. “He certainly doesn’t look malnourished.”
My stomach pleaded, “C’mon, c’mon! He won’t get sick. Just look at that cereal. It’s a thing of beauty!”
Mustering up a herculean amount of will power, with my hand quivering with conflict, I finally dumped the whole bowl cereal into the trash. My brain nodded solemnly, while my stomach shed a quiet tear.
I had to settle for a bowl of stale Cheerios covered in orange juice. But you know, it actually tasted pretty good.