The Village Idiot: Out to Lunch


By Jim Mullen
Signal Contributing Writer

I was talking to my friend Charlie on the phone last night, and he said he had to go eat dinner. He mentioned he was pretty hungry because he had forgotten to eat lunch. Forgotten to eat lunch? There’s a phrase I have never used in my life. Usually, while I am eating lunch, I am planning what I am going to eat for breakfast three days from now.

I’ve already planned my meals for the next two days.

And the snacks. I’m thinking granola. Granola pancakes. With maple-flavored whipped cream. No, that would be wrong. Maple syrup with plain whipped cream.

But if I have pancakes three days from now, what will I have for lunch? Maybe I’ll go to that guy who sells fish tacos out of a truck.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that it is really abnormal to forget about eating. Of course, Charlie is the one who always says, “If you know someone who is normal, you must not know them very well.”

The few times in my life that I skipped a meal, it wasn’t because I forgot to eat but because there were circumstances beyond my control. Emergency room visits, being broke, the first day of any diet, arriving at 2 a.m. in a small airport.

Does Charlie have an undiagnosed eating disorder? FLS — Forgetting Lunch Syndrome. Or maybe he has a body image problem. As a friend, isn’t it my duty to make sure that he isn’t a danger to himself or others? I don’t know how not eating lunch could be a danger to others, unless it starts a trend of not eating lunch. Something like, “Lose 10 pounds by Tuesday. All you have to do is skip lunch.” It sounds good until you realize you ate twice as much for dinner. The pounds are not dropping off. By Tuesday, you’re completely bummed out because you gained half a pound. To feel better, you go shopping. For a new pair of pants with a stretch top.

At my age, things can go south fast when it comes to food. One day you forget to eat lunch and the next day you forget the name of that movie star who died. The one with the mustache. You know who I’m talking about. He was married to that woman with the hair. Never mind, it’ll come to me when I’m not thinking about it. There was a story in one of those magazines at the doctor’s office that said forgetting to eat lunch is one of the seven early warning signs of something. Or maybe it wasn’t forgetting lunch; it was about forgetting something. I just can’t remember what.

Still, I’m a man of action. I casually dropped by Charlie’s house today just to make sure he was OK, and he was acting very, very strange. He kept wanting to know what the matter with me was — as if I were the one who forgot to eat lunch! Was there any food in his house? Was he too embarrassed to say that he had fallen on hard times?

I pretended to use the bathroom and snuck into his kitchen. No food anywhere. I opened the refrigerator and got the shock of my life. It was worse than I ever imagined. It was full of bottled water and leafy green vegetables. Kale. Broccoli. Spinach. Charlie had gone over to the dark side.

“Hungry?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “But when did you start keeping rabbits?”

“I’ve turned over a new leaf,” he said shutting the refrigerator door. “I’m cleansing. I feel better, I’m more active, and I even think my memory’s improved.”

“Really? Who was that actor with the mustache married to the woman with the hair?”

“That sounds like Ernie Kovacs. He died 60 years ago. What made you think of him? You must have a good memory; I haven’t thought of him in years.”

(Contact Jim Mullen at [email protected].)

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