*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
In my early twenties, my husband and I accompanied another young married couple to the local amusement park. We planned to spend the entire day there, riding the rides, playing carnival games, and [I thought] eating fried food.
Noontime rolled around, and we all agreed we were hungry. My husband and I began making our way toward the food stalls. My friend and her husband made for the parking lot.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"There's no way we're paying these prices for food," my friend replied. "They're way too expensive. I packed a cooler full of bologna sandwiches and soda."
Her husband looked at us helplessly. "I want a burger and fries," he pleaded.
"No way," my friend replied. "Come on. I'll get you a sandwich."
For the rest of the day, whenever we took a break to eat, my husband and I would buy food from one of the many vendors at the park. My friend and her husband would sit across from us at a wooden picnic table and eat bologna sandwiches.
They brought apples for dessert. Who eats apples at an amusement park?
I don't regret spending the extra money to eat at the park, although packing soda would have been a great idea. I'll bet my friend didn't regret her decision to pack lunch and snacks either, although I think her husband would have preferred to eat the good stuff. And by "good," I mean "bad." There's nothing healthy about deep-fried dough, funnel cakes, burgers, and French fries, but I'd be lying if I said they didn't enhance the experience.
My husband and I didn't feel bad eating greasy overpriced park food in front of the other couple, and we didn't offer to buy them a deep-fried snack to be nice. They made their choice and we made ours.
At the end of the day, as we prepared to leave, I noticed my friend's husband sneak off and buy a big plate of fries. He had his deep-fried snack after all.
He didn't share any of his French fries with his wife; she didn't seem too happy about it. I think secretly she wished she had paid for standard amusement park fare. Not bologna and apples.
I think it's important to be mindful in situations like this. There's no shame in packing a picnic from home instead of spending too much on overpriced food, but it's also ok to treat yourself once in a while.
What do you think? Pack a lunch from home or feast on overpriced hot dogs and sticky caramel apples at the amusement park. You already know my choice. Comments are welcome.
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