Two Thousand Degrees of Separation
I was eating breakfast at a national restaurant chain this morning, waging war against a hunger that required a buffet, when the question of the fork in my hand and the limitless possibilities of “the whom” -of its previous users crashed my gag reflex.
This place has been open for the last seven years, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner; and considering that, I calculated the fork I was using most likely was being used a bare minimum of ten times by different people every day including Sundays. The quick math means this fork, this one…NOW VERY NASTY fork, has been used a minimum of Twenty five thousand, Five hundred, Fifty times before I stuck it in my mouth…SU-MU-MU-BITCHIN’ YUCK!!!
To understand how amplified in its disgust this thought became, one must first understand my unwavering commitment to my relationship with bacon…which can most aptly be characterized at this point, as lust. I think bacon may be the elixir of most things; maybe not on the scale of miraculous prayer, but certainly one of God’s better answers. Got a cough? Try two strips of bacon. Car won’t start? Try four strips of bacon…Marriage in trouble? Wrap it in bacon; at least six strips…see where I’m goin’?
Solidly in the throes of “who used this fork” however, it became more difficult to put said fork back in my mouth. I was outwardly disturbed, and as I tried to make the obligatory “get my money’s worth” trips back through the buffet line even the bacon lost its battle cry.
The cerebral damage was done, just in time for the part of my brain that’s warped by years of perpetual pessimism did its magic:
How many of this fork’s previous users had some communicable disease or didn’t brush their teeth? How many were crack heads, or worse…Dallas Cowboy fans (yes, to me those two categories are exactly the same)? How many had eaten something rancid or putrid on a dare or ON PURPOSE? I once caught my oldest daughter eating the mud pies she made one Saturday morning when she was three years old. HAS SHE BEEN HERE? HAS SHE USED THIS FORK? How many times has this fork been used by a rodeo clown who got face planted into a cow patty…WITH HIS MOUTHS OPEN? I saw a drunken friend finish drinking the last bits of at least twenty bottles of beer that remained on the pool hall bar after last call one night; none belonging to him. One by one, in an absolute idiot’s display of bravado he finished them off. You know…the last little sip WITH THE SPENT CIGARETTE BUTTS AND BACKWASH IN ALL OF THEM!!! HAS ANYONE SEEN THIS FORK IN HIS HAND?
Tried as I might I just couldn’t get the thought of every objectionable “booger eatin,’ pull-my-finger” type out of my head which ultimately stopped me… I couldn’t eat and I’m generally a master class buffet buster.
But on the ride home, as I wore that “did somebody crap in the car?” look on my face, it dawned on me, mercifully.
What about the other side?
How many War Hero’s or inventors used this fork? How many Authors from the New England Journal of Medicine have shared their findings on some helpful cure after having used this fork? How many organ donors or other compassionate people who volunteer at one charitable organization or another used it? In fact how many unknown saints have used this fork?
Soon I was saddened that I didn’t try to steal it as the reality of the big picture back story presented itself.
Are we not able to call all of us family or at the very least connected, even by this one fork-all of us? Can God not be that subtle or sublime when He defines us all as brothers and sisters, allowing us, quite literally to see or taste the proof?
I’ve eaten at a thousand restaurants, many having served the public for decades. I’ve checked out library books, rented movies and cars, used public restrooms, slept in a hundred hotel beds and sat on a million chairs in public venues across the world. I have lived a life of being in use of things that have been used by thousands, if not millions before me. Even the change in my pocket will “change” daily. This quarter, dime and two pennies will literally be in someone else’s pocket tomorrow as it was yesterday.
In the end I realized that maybe I’ve not eaten from the exact same fork as you, but I’m willing to bet a strip of bacon that there’s a line connecting us by someone who used that fork- who knows someone-that is related to someone-that gave you change of a dollar-that was in my pocket last week.
Anthony F Wobbe 12/02/2016