Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hamburger Helper

I made a trip to Walmart last weekend - a fairly rare occurrence for me. I'm not a huge fan of the store, mainly because they never seem to have enough check-out lanes open. I'm usually zipping in to get something I need and wanting to zip back out with it. Seldom happens.

Anyway, as I entered the Walmart through the door on the food side, I saw the following display:

That's right - one of the staples of quick, easy-to-prepare meals: Hamburger Helper.

Now this brought back a flood of memories, and they were not good. In fact, as I walked past the display, I was surprised at myself. I had looked straight at the boxes of HH without getting nauseated.

You see, way back in my college days, my friend Steve and I shared a trailer and neither one of us had very much in the way of income - after all, we were in college. In the summer, we would run the air conditioner one day a month just to absorb the luxury of a cool trailer for a few hours. So HH was one of the ways we could eat without spending much money. A little hamburger meat, a box of the seasoning and voila - dinner!

But one November evening, we finished our Hamburger Helper meal and then it happened. I can't remember whether Steve or I started to feel sick first. but within an hour or so we were both sick as dogs. I can only remember one other time in my life where I felt that bad. I will spare you the gory details, but you can imagine. I didn't eat for days.

Now here's the thing: I don't know to this day whether the food had anything to do with it. I kinda think it didn't because I found out later that there was a stomach virus going around. but it didn't matter. From that day forward, if I saw a box of HH I would feel sick at my stomach. If you mentioned it...nausea. And Lord help us all if I actually smelled any of it cooking. I couldn't stand the thought of it.

Have you ever had anything like that? A food associated with a bad memory that makes you sick to think about? Or a song that reminded you of a bad break-up and you would get depressed every time you heard it?  Of course it works both ways - our senses are very powerful carriers of nostalgia both good and bad. There are songs that still make me think of specific periods of my life. Smells and tastes that bring back memories. That's just the way we wired.

But if you have songs you just can't stand to hear, or places you can't stand to see, or - yes - foods you can't stand to smell, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to last forever. God's grace is strong enough to help you put those behind you. Christ came to give us a brand new start. Yes, from our sin and rejection of our Creator. But also from the pain that comes from living in a fallen world. If I can walk past that Hamburger Helper display (and write about it!!), then it can happen.

And oh, I grabbed my travel size shaving cream and walked to the check-out stand. Believe it or not, there was an employee waiting to check me out. No line! Yes, it was a miraculous day...no nausea and no line at Walmart. I sure hope I wasn't dreaming.

1 comment:

  1. I had the same thing happen after a friend's birthday party at Shakey's Pizza. I KNOW it wasn't the food because we were all sharing the pizzas and I was the only one who got sick, but I still couldn't eat pizza again until college.

    Y'all were squandering money on HH. It's cheaper to just buy the pasta (in bulk) and spice to taste ... my poverty rations were chicken pot pies at 4/$1 busted over a bed of rice.