Welcome to the crowded food court, workplace lunch room, or high school cafeteria. Thin napkins and ketchup smears cover tables as wailing babies and french fry fumes fill the air. It’s time for lunch so your stomach’s grumbling and all you can think about is how hungry you are.
That’s when it happens.
A smoking babe struts by and all you notice are her enchiladas. A hot guy cruises over and all you see is his taco salad. Just then someone runs over your foot with their wheelchair but you’re too hypnotized by their thai curry to feel any pain.
Eyes pop and drool drips as you stand spinning in a neon daze. This is modern day hunting and you’re tray gawking with the finest. You know you’re food ogling when one of these classic moments happens:
1. The Shoulder Tap. You’re dining out with friends and you spot a couple eating something good by the window. You stare down at your menu and discover that it’s … just text! No steaming stir frys or scrambled slams staring up at you. Now you eyeball their meals and casually stroll by on your way to the bathroom to see what’s cooking. If you’re like me, you try and fail to find their meal on the menu. “They’ve got something covered in cheese and tomato sauce over there… but there’s no chicken parmesan listed.” Now you give a guilty smile and shoulder tap the waiter for help. Or for extra rudeness points you can yell across the room to ask them. Maybe even clink a fork on your wine glass to get their attention.
2. The Bad Trade. After reuniting with your three geek pals at the plastic food court table under the fake umbrella you notice three of you got cold sandwiches while one person came back with a steaming plate of hot lasagna and fresh garlic bread. Staring at that delicious lasagna is too much so finally someone snaps and tries to make a bad trade. “How about six inches of my sub for a few bites?” It’s a pathetic offer but they had to try. What have you got to lose besides bland lettuce scraps and a green tomato slice?
3. The Lazy Man’s Regret. There’s always one guy willing to wait ten minutes at the made-to-order pasta station in the caf or the omelet station at the hotel buffet. Sure, you think he’s a fool at first, but after he sits down you can’t help stare deep into his dish and curse your impatient ways. “I too could have had egg-white omelet with cheese and mushrooms.” Tears spill as you think about the cardboard scrambled eggs and cold chewy pancakes you just ate.
4. The Unobtainable Leftovers. That stack of microwaves in the office cafeteria is a leftover fashion show. This is where I stuff my freezer-burned chili while drooling over the leftover fettuccine and homemade curries popping out of other machines. These meals aren’t accessible to me, no line I can wait in, no money I can pay. So I’m stuck staring like a food ogling fool.
When we’re hungry our stomachs rule and office meetings, bathrooms breaks, and text messages fade to the background. Now it’s time to food ogle and fill your stomach by spotting ice cream sources, sniffing steaming coffees, and tracking back those greasy snacks so you can fill your belly with a whole lotta