by Alex Lee
$2.50. That's how much this box of cereal cost. I know this because I paid $2.50 at the supermarket to purchase it. I didn't have a particular coupon for these four boxes of Post Honey Bunches of Oats, but the grocery store had them on sale this week. Two for five dollars. $2.50 each.
I have found that in my middle-aged-ness, my mood suffers when I am hungry. I don't remember if I was a cranky infant before feeding time, my parents focused on my talents and strengths. We generally recognize the importance of eating as a societal rule. If we call during dinner-time, we quickly apologize and ask if we can call back later. We usually don't interrupt someone with spreadsheet errors if they're in the middle of their lunch at their desk. Servers routinely check on you to ensure you have everything you need during your meal. Hungry crying babies get everyone's attention. Millennials have even accepted "hangry" into common usage.
I was a few hours beyond my normal weekend breakfast — I put it off to attend to my daughter's needs which mostly consisted of entering the password into our gaming console, checking our color printer, and searching for a missing screw to her sunglasses. It was at this moment that my stomach put my brain into a reverse-naked chokehold and threw it into painful submission. I started to make myself a sandwich.
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My kitchen has served me for over 10 familiar years. I've made turkey dinners here, birthday lunches, disgusting quick meals and slow-cooked masterpieces, stir-fried recipes from two generations ago, and friendships that last long after the cake has been eaten. It's not the biggest nor the smallest kitchen. Today, however, it was just a few feet too small because right where I was trying to make my sandwich-of-three-meager-ingredients was a $2.50 box of cereal. The cereal does not belong on this counter — it belongs on the shelf with all of its cereal pals. For the past week, I've been moving the cereal from the counter back to that shelf where it belongs without issue. Today the cereal was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I wanted to throw that fucking box of cereal clear across my kitchen.
My chokeheld-brain started to reason, "Is it worth $2.50 to make a point because I'm really starving here? Actually more like a $1.47 because some of it has been eaten already..."
My wife saw me making something and asked, "What are you doing? Are you making that for your daughter?"
"I'm trying to make a sandwich for myself because I HAVEN'T EATEN YET."
I should also mention that being hangry puts passive-aggressive thoughts into my head. I was contemplating leaving the boxes of cereal in various locations throughout the house. In the bathroom sink, on the laundry machine, inside someone's pillowcase, on top of someone's cellphone, or taped onto the flat-screen television — just to see if my family would acknowledge where the cereal should go.
The sandwich was made — I dashed out of the kitchen away from everyone and ate quietly. My stomach let my brain go. The cereal survived for another day. My cooler head started to wonder, "What if I was made to put the cereal away? Perhaps my family has more important things to do than that and I'm certainly capable of helping out in this arena." Clearly, I get a food-high when I am eating.
I can't wait to see what tomorrow's breakfast will be like.
Alex Lee is a 45-year-old father of two and was THIS close to becoming a doctor. He loves science, drums, making cakes of his best friend, and liberalism. He is also a full-time IT Specialist and part-time Technical Writer.