I was at the vending machines again, where I work.. picking out some breakfast since I’d once again been running late through the day. As I checked out the two and three day old selections of sandwiches, bagels and burritos I was reminded of a conversation I had with a good friend, Alicia, about a year ago. (Her real name.)
She had met one of my roommates and afterwards she and I had a natural, comfortable repoire with one another. So there we were, a month later, driving to the county court offices so she could file for divorce on her long absent husband. We talked and talked about how they’d met, broken up and her apprehension about ever choosing another man to be involved with her and her little daughter. She asked me what I felt was one of the things I’d learned from several years of post-divorce dating and what came to mind were these tuna sandwiches.
Ever have one of those days where you’re just running too busy to take time for breakfast? Sure you have. And maybe you even didn’t take time for much of a dinner the night before to add to it all. I do that alot. So many a time I’ve stood in front of that vending machine… just “starving” for something to eat. It’s my 15 minute break and all I really need is something to hold me over ’til actual lunch-time. I have it all planned out. I’m gonna go to the deli down the street and order up one of them hot, grilled chicken Philadelphia grinders with the melted cheese.. a slice of chocolate cheese-cake and a big root-beer to go with it.
But for now all I got is fifteen minutes and this vending machine. I could get a granola bar. Or a pack of M&M’s. Just enough to hold me ’til that nice big lunch that I’ll relish with all my appetite. This is when things begin to fall apart in my decision-making. I’m hungry. REAL hungry. I can escape all the waiting and get one of these plastic wrapped tuna sandwiches -right now-. No waiting. There it is, just drop in my $1.75 (cheaper than the Philly sandwich) and in three seconds it’s mine. And it looks so good! It’s sliced in half to show you the thick layer of tuna with all the dressing and a slice of tomato on the side all wrapped attractively in plastic. I’m really hungry, so I drop in my 1.75, pull the door and rush to the table to satisfy this burning hunger with this… YUK!!
What’s this??! The bread is soggy. (From the wilted tomatoe previously held together by the plastic.) The tuna is nasty and those green things weren’t pickles… they’re bell-pepper bits. I hate bell pepper! Hungry as I am I eat what I can and go back to work. Twenty minutes before lunch-time and now… my stomach doesn’t feel so good. I’m still kinda hungry, but my stomach is churning on this lame tuna sandwich I grabbed in haste an hour ago. And it gets worse. I leave for lunch and now I’m just 1 dollar short of what I need to get my Philly sandwich lunch, so now I have to rush over to the ATM for more cash. By the time it’s all said and done I’ve wolfed down my Philly sandwich, had no appetite to enjoy it and my stomach isn’t feeling so great. Now I’m wishing I’d just had the patience to wait and pass on that damn tuna sandwich that’s robbed me of what could have been a great lunch.
So as Alicia and I went driving down the freeway, I related the above, too true, tuna sandwich ordeal. I had no one to blame but myself. My impatience was my own undoing. And so it required of us as well as we go about our dating choices. We want love, it’s as natural a desire as hunger for food. Sometimes that hunger reaches what seem like unbearable cravings that can’t wait another hour. And right there, in front of us, are the ever-present tuna sandwiches. They come all wrapped up nicely from a distance. They promise to satisfy quickly our voracious needs. But deep inside we know.. real love and relationships of substance aren’t quickly grabbed and inhaled at a buck-seventy-five. Nor are they found in the arms of a stranger at “last call” for the price of a motel room.
We can lunge for that tuna sandwich. No one’s really gonna stop us. We can justify it all we want with our rationale of hunger, need and desire. But when it’s all said and done.. along comes the opportunity for that satisfying meal we knew would come along sooner or later. Only now we’ve complicated things to where we must work even harder to obtain them in light of the mistakes we made earlier. Perhaps we even have residual after-effects from the tuna sandwich that interfere with our ability to enjoy that Philly steak once we have it right before us.
I still have days when the hunger reaches almost unbearable peaks. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me patient, and sane, is remembering the bad aftertaste of yesterday’s tuna fish sandwiches.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.