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Should You Eat a Sandwich in Location X? An Investigation

When I was still at the mercy of my parents’ most befuddling whims, I’d sometimes find myself in embarrassing situations that had me looking for the nearest portal to Narnia. One such occasion occurred during one of our yearly Christmas shopping trips, all-day endeavors that required four hours of roundtrip travel and almost always ended with at least one of those rascally Sjostrom boys being spanked into Christmas Yet to Come.

On this particular Saturday, and after about a half-day of asking for every remote-controlled boat/helicopter/motorcycle in sight, I began complaining to my mom about how hungry I was. And she, without a moment’s hesitation and flashing a knowing smirk, dug into her massive purse and unearthed a bologna sandwich, pristinely secured in those now-extinct baggies that predated Ziploc. “Here, my child,” she said. “Go sit on a bench and eat.”

I just stared blankly at the sandwich. I had so many questions. Mom, did you just have that sandwich in your purse since 8am? Do you always have sandwiches in your purse? Is that sandwich even from today, or from the last time you used that piece of luggage? And most importantly, you want me to sit in the middle of a crowded shopping mall -- Mom, the food court is right there -- and just act as though this isn’t all extremely strange?

The point is, sandwiches are the ultimate food of convenience -- they were invented by a degenerate gambler who would’ve rather starved than left the table -- but there are some occasions when their consumption is less than ideal. The middle of a North Dakota shopping mall during Christmas season is certainly one of them. Meanwhile, some places are perfectly suitable for a quick ‘wich. Let’s look at some common options.

In the backseat of a car on a road trip. This would be your classic “better in theory” option. Was it thoughtful to pack a cooler, and only put mustard on half of the sandwiches, and bring plenty of napkins for everyone? It was. But it’s also nigh-impossible that crumbs and lettuce and mayo won’t find their way onto the finery. And whither the driver, who must press on in pestilence, lest he or she decide to eat, and then smear the condiments from 10 to 2 on the steering wheel? Let’s find an exit with a Culver’s instead. Every exit has a Culver’s.

At a waterpark or a zoo. History has proven that these are pre-made sandwich sweet spots. Send me down the Caribbean Corkscrew or into any zoo’s primate house, and I’ll sense that cold cuts can’t be more than a few minutes away. You might assume that this instinct fades as you get older. Your assumption would be false.

At a rest area on a nice day. Everything about this setting is ideal for taking down some deli. There was a time, believe it or not, when picnic tables were used for things other than changing diapers, and that rest areas didn’t get the misplaced rap as the gathering place for serial killers. If the rest area in question has ducks in a pond, a historical marker or a walking trail, I’m fine taking my chances. Hand me a sandwich; ducks, you get the crust.

At a movie theater, sitting upright, while I’m reclined next to you. I understand that the movie theater industry panicked in about 2010 because people were more likely to stay home instead of going out to catch a picture, so the thought was to replicate the atmosphere of your couch. I was okay with selling beer, honestly, and the recliners were a nice touch. But there’s no need for bringing all forms of foodstuffs on a platter into the theater. The idea of “Dinner and a Movie” is that the two remain separate, right?

In front of your pregnant wife, who is bummed that she isn’t supposed to eat deli meat. I wouldn’t recommend it.

In the garage away from your pregnant wife, or after she goes to bed. Now you’re getting it.

When you’re writing an article about eating sandwiches and it makes you hungry. This is why God created keyboard vacuum cleaners.

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