I was a Jack's virgin.

 Photo courtesy Pixabay. Photo courtesy Pixabay.

Until a few weeks ago, I was a Jack’s virgin. Then I woke up one morning and decided to end my abstention with a noontime rendezvous. I drove to my destination and did it.

I ordered two cheeseburgers from Jack’s Drive-in.

If you live near me, you know Jack’s. If you don’t live around here, you know Jack’s anyway – you have one in your own community, I’ll bet, even if it goes by Fred’s or Vito’s.

It’s the little shack that sells burgers, dogs, fries, and shakes. You walk up to the window and place your order and the guy behind the counter yells out the order to the cooks in back. The line is usually around-the-block long but moves quickly. There are picnic tables with umbrellas so you can enjoy your grease, I mean, food, while it’s hot.

In an earlier life, before I gave myself over to Jack’s, I was a borderline vegetarian. I had disdain for the lines at Jack’s as I drove by on my way to the grocery store. There, I filled my cart with green leafy vegetables, light salad dressing, brown rice, and the occasional skinless boneless chicken breast. Driving back home, the smell of hot saturated fat permeating the air, my kale and I were downright self-righteous.

Then, about four years ago, my gut, which has given me trouble for over 40 years, rebelled. All that “healthy stuff” that I loved stopped loving me back. My gut decided it didn’t like sanctimonious food anymore. It much preferred what I used to consider evil. Like butter and bacon.

The first time I bought bacon for myself, I was ashamed. I hid it in my grocery cart under the toilet paper. When I checked out, I looked around to see if anyone might recognize me. Since then, I’ve become more tenacious. Now I can even buy liverwurst without a second thought.

Let’s not get into lectures, OK? I have a long career and an advanced degree in health education and promotion. I KNOW stuff. Like what happens in my body when I eat grains. And that what’s healthy for your body may not be what’s healthy for mine.

I believe that in my lifetime, researchers will be able to determine what type of food will work best for each individual. Research evolves all the time, anyway. Today, sugar is the new fat. Tomorrow, Twinkies may be the new quinoa. OK, that might be pushing it, but you get my point.

In the meantime, since it appears there’s more we don’t know than what we know for certain, I’m keeping my mind open as I continue to figure out what the heck is up with my insides.

The lesson I learned deep in my gut from my diet overhaul is to cut out the judgement. People aren’t helped by being judged and it’s no business of mine to do it. If someone looked in my grocery cart and judged my character by the pint of whipping cream there, they might never be open to knowing the struggles that led me to buy it. They would miss the best parts of me, which are certainly not in my gut. They’re in my heart and my soul.

The other lesson I learned, specific to Jack’s Drive-in, is that the cheeseburgers aren’t all that greasy. The fat didn’t drip down my arms as I had hoped; they were a one-napkin meal.

I may have to plan a new rendezvous.  Any recommendations?


  • An emerging writer in upstate, NY, Karen DeBonis tells her story on her website, in publications like the NY Times, (a Tiny Love Story), in her “Become Emboldened” projects, and elsewhere. "Portrait of a People-Pleaser and the Son Who Paid the Price", Karen’s transformational memoir about a woman’s quest for authenticity and the courage to speak her truth, is currently available for representation.

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