Not so long ago when we went to the movies I would insist on getting the unlimited refills popcorn, which came in a bucket large enough to attempt going over Niagara Falls in, along with a drink the size of four human bladders. Plus of course I got the mandatory two-pound carton of Junior Mints for dessert.
But like so many others today I am fighting uncontrolled expansion -- not of government, but of my love handles, which are starting to resemble wings. So a few years ago my wife and I started getting the kids popcorn special for $4.75, which comes in a small cardboard carrier that also holds a tiny candy packet and a small drink. They used to sell the kids pack only to kids. So we would hang around in the shadows of the lobby waiting for a kid that looked adult-friendly and say: "Psst. Hey buddy, would you buy us some popcorn? We'll give you a buck." Sometimes they would scold us, threaten to tell the authorities, give us religious pamphlets, but we always found at least one kid who felt sorry for us.
Now, thanks to senior-rights activists, we can walk right up to the counter and order our own kids pack, though apparently management frowns upon the practice at certain theaters.
The other day we went to see a romantic comedy about retired rogue CIA officials who amusingly have to shoot, stab and blow up several hundred people, and we ordered our usual. The young man at the counter give us the popcorn and the little candy thing and asked what we wanted for our drink and we decided on lemonade. He filled up the cup put it into the cup holder. Then the 20-something-year-old "manager" stomped over and said: "that's the wrong size," dumped out the lemonade, crumpled the cup, threw it away, then filled the smaller size cup and shoved it back into the cup holder!
I said: " Did you just throw away 12 ounces of lemonade and a cup just to give us a smaller one?!" And she said: "Huh?” in a managerial way." I congratulated her and said: "That could easily end up in my column."
I think the problem is many baby boomers have made a decision to live as long as they can -- or at least until social security runs out – and have started to eat less, much to the chagrin of food professionals who have been used to our “swelling” ranks.
For instance, occasionally I would like to use the same movie strategy when we eat out. Kids’ meals at restaurants usually sound great -- grilled cheese sandwich on white bread, your own personal bag of chips, a chocolate chip cookie and a prize. Instead we have to order off the main menu and oftentimes end up with some kind of mystery meat swimming in gravy that has a BP-type sheen, accompanied by a potato with a pond of butter in the middle, a half loaf of bread so dense you could use it in construction, and a vegetable medley that heavily favors cauliflower.
One of my writer friends, whom we lovingly refer to as Skooby, said the former Brown Pelican restaurant at Hendry’s Beach used to sell kids' breakfasts to seniors over 60. She said it was perfect because most of her group couldn’t eat three huge pancakes, but two was just right.
Apparently it caught on because sales for that section of the menu increased. So, in an obvious attempt to quell this uprising, they stopped kids’ sales to seniors all together. Scooby and her group stopped going there and the Brown Pelican went out of business.
Eventually, food rights for baby boomers will end up on the ballot with gay rights and the next marijuana initiative. Because, what choice do we have but to cut back? Cars are getting smaller, they have doubled the number of seats in airplanes, without making the planes any bigger, and though scientists are concentrating on global warming and not really talking about it, I’m convinced there is more gravity than there used to be.
Hopefully, we will win the new “battle of the bulge!” In the meantime, can you just bring us one meal and two forks? Thank you.