SOUTHERN COMFORT

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You always hear how people are so friendly in the south. That’s because they’re surrounded by comfort food. Comfort food, for you hardcore vegans and micro and nano dieters, is defined as food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being. Generally, such food is packed with sugar and carbs and you never, ever, count the calories. If you did, that would make you uncomfortable. And besides, you can tell yourself, I’m burning most of the calories with all this chewing.

Some say comfort food is associated with nostalgia or home cooking. I don’t know. In the south, if people are eating comfort food for nostalgia then they’re only looking back to the day before. 

I’m not being featured in any Bowflex commercials (well, maybe in the Before pictures) and I confess to having worn pants with expandable waists (good at cocktail hours!). I’ve put on husky pants and people have ridiculed me for wearing skinny jeans. But in the south I feel like somebody’s gonna take my picture and put me in National Geographic to show, the world how malnourished northern Yankees are.

While on a quick getaway (yea, I missed the latest nor’easter) to Myrtle Beach, I’ve been called darlin’, hon’, and sweetie. I looked over my shoulder each time to see if they were talking to me. I tried to hide my surprise when I realized they were really talking to me. Their pleasantness had to be a direct result of having just recently made themselves comfortable with carbs.

I swear on a stack of waffles there are three pancake houses within a hundred yards of each other on a street in Myrtle. And a fourth one is a block away. In the south, you drive to each. I’m pretty sure these friendly southerners bar hop at night and IHOP in the morning. Who knew? Drinking and pancakes are the keys to happiness. 

Of course, not everyone is a breakfast person. No worries, they’ve got plenty of barbecue and biscuit places to provide comfort. There’s a place here that serves all kinds of burgers including one covered in Doritos. Not kidding. And they’ve got something called an OMG Burger. Can you imagine what’s on a burger in the south to call it an OMG (Oh My God)?

Yes, if you try, you can find healthy options, like seafood. But usually it’s only offered at all-you-can eat buffets.

The thing is, I could easily get into this comfortable way of eating. I’d have to do some training to get up to the OMG but I’d be surrounded by support teams. What’s not to like? The weather’s nice, the people are nice. I should stay.

But I can’t. I gotta go home. Bummer. Now I have to talk myself into all the things I don’t like to make going back easier. I hate the long red lights they have here. And there are too many golf courses. Too many friendly exchanges — what’s wrong with these people? I work up so much disdain for the place and people I start to feel bad. I go to Pancake Paradise to make myself feel better. Works like a charm. I’m comforted. When I polish off the pancakes, the waitress asks if I’d like a banana split.   

Yea, I could get used to this, but no — I have to hurry back to Rockaway because I wouldn’t want to miss another nor’easter. Then again, if I feel guilty I know how to make myself feel better.

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