My friend J., who is very ladylike, once told me that it’s not good manners to eat in the car.
I think of this every time I do eat in the car, always hoping that J. won’t pull up next to me at a traffic light just as I’m stuffing French fries in my mouth, while great blobs of ketchup drip down on my shirt.
French fries aside, I mostly pick portable snacks to dine on while driving. Bananas, sports bars, pretty much anything I can eat one-handed. (I always like to keep one hand free for flipping off other drivers as needed, another habit I suspect J. wouldn’t approve of.)
But today, when I stopped at a light, I looked over at the car next to me, and watched as the driver began to eat cereal. With milk. And a spoon.
At first, this just seemed silly to me. Hasn’t she ever heard of granola bars? But then, I began to gain appreciation for the thought that went into her breakfast-on-the-go. Rather than opting for a bowl, she’d poured her cereal and milk into a square Tupperware container, which would be less likely to spill. And it didn’t look as though she were sloshing milk down the front of her blouse.
I began to wonder how far she would take this. Did she stop at cereal, or did she eat other meals requiring utensils behind the wheel too? She could probably manage soup with the same square Tupperware system. But what about a New York strip steak that would require cutting? Or barbecued ribs? Or corn on the cob? Maybe all this time, I’d been underachieving with my bananas.
I wanted to roll down my window and ask her, but by that time, I think I’d freaked her out by staring at her for too long. Once the light turned green, she peeled off, clearly eager to put space between us. Or maybe she just wanted to get to the next red light, so she could get back to her breakfast.