Chinese Take-Out for One

I used to eat lunch in my car. Just about everyday. Most days I’d either take something from home or order fast food from a drive-thru window. Occasionally I would sit in a restaurant and eat by myself, but there is a bit of that good old “feeling like a loser” element at play when dining alone and in public. I’m NOT a total loser… I DO have a few friends, and naturally there were days I would have lunch with one or more of them. But the vast majority of the time I found myself flying solo and therefore it seemed much more comfortable to dine in my ride. I don’t eat in the car much anymore. And perhaps the story I am about to tell you is the reason why. I would like to share with you—a cautionary tale perhaps—about why it is not a good idea to eat Chinese take-out alone in your car on a rainy day.

It was a damp and dreary day. And I felt like having something a little different. I was in the mood for something warm and substantial and maybe even a little spicy… and yes, I am still talking about food.

The previous Monday I had stopped at Subway for lunch and I noticed a Chinese restaurant next door and so on this day I thought: Hmmm… that might just do for it for me today… it’s warm and substantial and if I place my order right… it could be spicy too! To borrow a line from Elaine on Seinfeld… eating the Chinese food in my car would be quote: “better than eatin’ it alone in the restaurant like some LOSER!” So I took it to go and planned on enjoying it in the park. I could not, however, predict the avalanche of problems this would pose on a cold, rainy day.

#1. I forgot how much “stuff” there is too carry with Chinese food. The bag (that must remain level at all times), my bottle of water, the napkins, the utensils, the soy sauce, the fortune cookie… So I had to figure out a way to juggle all those things PLUS my purse, my keys and my umbrella. Luckily I carry a big purse, so I managed to dump the water bottle, napkins, utensils, soy sauce packets and cookie into my purse. But I still had in my hands, the purse, the bag of food (that must remain level at all times), the car keys and the umbrella… which I was hoping to somehow manage to OPEN before venturing outside into the torrential downpour. When I finally got everything situated (or so I thought), I had such a terrible grip on the umbrella that when I pushed the button to pop it up… it flew open, poking me directly in the eye!

<insert expletive here>

#2 So with my one good eye, in the torrential downpour, I found my way to the car and folded myself inside, purse, food, keys and demonic umbrella included and drove to my favorite park. Once settled I began assembling my meal. As everyone knows, soy sauce packets are hard to open… Even harder with a plastic shell of hot food teetering on your lap in the cramped driver’s seat of a car. So, naturally, upon opening the first packet of sauce… it squirted all over my favorite light blue sweater.

<insert another expletive here>

By the way… does anyone have any tips about how to remove soy-sauce stains from finely-knit sweater material? If so… please let me know.

#3 With one good eye and a soy-sauce-stained sweater, I began to eat my food. After a bit, I received a text message from my friend Jodi wanting to know if I’d like to have lunch with her sometime next week. Of course I would! Anything would be better than eating in the car… all one-eyed and soy-stained… ALONE! But as I attempted to reply to her message… my phone slipped from my grasp and landed… right smack-dab in the middle of my General Tso’s spicy chicken.

<insert yet another stronger expletive here>

#4 With one good eye, a soy-sauce-stained sweater and a General-Tso’s-and-rice-covered cell phone I began damage control. Since the chinsey napkins didn’t seem to be doing the trick, I desperately and ashamedly resorted to licking my phone in order to clean it off before the food was able to congeal and gunk up the phone for good. Oh… and I prayed to God that no one was parked beside me to see me licking my phone!

#5 So there I was, making out with my mobile phone, with one good eye and a soy-sauce-stained sweater when I realized that ALL of the windows in the car were fogging up from the hot food. For the second time in as many minutes I found myself praying to God that NO ONE had pulled into the lot beside me and happened to notice the windows all fogged up… just me and my LG. I wondered if there were any new city ordinances against such behavior like Public Indecency with a Cellular Device.

So this my friends, is why it isn’t necessarily a good idea to eat Chinese food—ALONE IN YOUR CAR—on a rainy day. You really are better off eating it alone in the restaurant like some loser… because trust me… you cannot possibly look like MORE of a loser than a one-eyed, soy-sauce-stained-sweater-sporting, window-fogging, cell-phone-licker.

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