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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Just Don’t Ask for a High Chair and Bib

Americans are obsessed with diets and food intake. The average man needs a balanced mix of nutritious food that totals 2,500 calories per day. Athletes need more. Special issues such as thyroid or illness may dictate otherwise. But I’ve got a secret that will save you money, treat you to less carb intake, and is

Americans are obsessed with diets and food intake. The average man needs a balanced mix of nutritious food that totals 2,500 calories per day. Athletes need more. Special issues such as thyroid or illness may dictate otherwise.

But I’ve got a secret that will save you money, treat you to less carb intake, and is even fun when you go to a restaurant.

Order off the child’s menu.

Sure, the platter options are as small as the portions you will receive, but deal with it and reap the benefits. The “happy meal” at McDonald’s is geared for kids, and it also creates smiles.

Don’t be shy and ask the waitress for the junior menu. I do it all the time now because I can’t eat full, oversize portions. You may want to do it as a means to shed weight.

Let your mind wander and take you back to when you were a coddled child, and your parents took you for lunch or dinner. You couldn’t finish an “adult” meal then, and now many places serve up appetizers that can top 4000 calories before the main dish comes! That’s almost double your recommended daily intake! Shame on you!

Although some waitresses or waiters might give you the cold shoulder (the less you eat, the less they make) you are doing your wallet and stomach a favor. You will suddenly remember your “favs” as a kid. Mac and cheese, beans and franks, pasta and meatball, peanut butter and jelly. Order up!

If you’re really in luck, the wait staff will bring you a paper the size of a dinner mat with games on it to “occupy” your time before the meal arrives. And a coloring book with fancy crayons!

You’re thinking, “Gerry, I’ll feel like an idiot, a complete dolt, accepting these things at a table full of my peers. Grown adults.” No, you won’t. Only if you request a high chair and a bib to utilize for full effect.

Seriously, do you REALLY want to discuss the same garbage with the same people for oh, the last five years or so when going out? Things like the stock market (boring), the in-laws (they want money), your child’s teachers (they failed your kid in gym class), the weather (it’s cold), or the latest iPhone (cold, hard tech)?

Nope, get to it with that junior crossword puzzle and pencil. Hmmm. Five letter word for “a person that jests and wears make up, weird clothing and oversize shoes.” Hint — not your cousin. Got it! Clown.

Tougher ones. Seven letter word “when a mommy and daddy split up and there is a court order provision following it.”

Definitely not the word “harmony.” I know, it’s — alimony! Hey, this puzzle is more fun than you thought!

You skip the peer group pre-meal jibe and stay focused. Five letter “slang term for teenagers who want to hang out and do nothing.” Can’t be the word loser or nerdy. You got it — CHILL. Eight letter word for “something you must practice if your food gets to you later, not sooner.” Patience.

Onto the next game on that paper. It’s the one that resembles a rats maze, and you start at one end and try to get to the other end without hitting a “dead end.” Hey, this isn’t child’s play, it’s hard!

By now, the steaming appetizers are at the table. Wings, tacos, steak salads, the kitchen sink. Your hunger factor sinks as you delve into the coloring book the waitress gave you. A countryside scene with animals. You color the pig pink, the barn an off red shade, the grass gets a fine hue of green. Holy soup du jour, your inner child is at fill tilt!

In unison, your dinner guests drop their forks and spill their spoons as they stare in disbelief. You push the food away and want to color some more. It’s erasing a days worth of anxiety. Years ago you were stripped of recess; it’s time for renewal.

You go abstract crazy with the next page, a simple outline of birds next to a rocky streambed with trout in it. You paint the birds red, white and blue. You transformed the creek into a copper glow.

The fish are now fuchsia, and the fishermen’s vest goes gothic black. You scribe “save the whales” at the top of the page. One of the fishermen gets a new mustache.

Not surprisingly, your dinner dates want to leave the premises, but leave you alone. They’ll get over it. They have to — you drove! You dig into a half size bowl of spaghetti made for small mouths and tummies. And remind your pals they still do child rides at carnivals! Hypocrites!

Your home scale used to pop springs after a night out of eating and drinking but can now rest easy because a lighter load awaits. You’ll also sleep better — no bricks to digest. You vow never to do an “all you can eat buffet.” Last time you went, it was four trips to the dessert table alone!

So, let’s add this (actually deduct) all up, shall we?

A potential mega meal turned into a space saver. You exercised valuable brain cells doing the crossword puzzle. You let creative juices flow while coloring, and it shed stress. You ate less and felt much better, not bloated. You spent less. And no alcohol permitted when ordering a child’s meal, thus no hangovers or designated drivers. You ended the evening with one scoop of ice cream, not five.

You feel empowered because you made a wise and simple choice. The nice restaurant people let you take home the game sheet and coloring book as a reward. Wow, what a night out! You felt and acted eight years old again!

Backlash be damned. So what if your girlfriend won’t be seen in public with you ever again, or that your buddy Paul secretly shot video of you at the table in full child mode and it went viral? The parents of the 10-year-old girl a table away weren’t overly amused when you gave their kid a high five and a hug for acing the rat’s maze.

However, I am convinced the world would not only “weigh less” with trim human beings, but be a less stressed and more fun place if more adults opted for the child’s menu. Restaurants, take note and expand the junior offerings. Have a Shirley Temple drink on me.

It must be said I can’t fit down the slides or wrestle with the monkey bars, or dive on the bounce mats at McDonald’s franchises outfitted with a “playroom” anymore. No matter.

Pass me the orange crayon, please.

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