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Eat ‘Em and Smile

Updated: Jun 23

How a dear friend reminds me to eat bad, drink good, and be merry.  



Lighten up while you still can

Don't even try to understand

Just find a place to make your stand

Take it easy

- The Eagles


My Buddy Drew

 

I’m not getting any younger. I try to eat right. I buy organic avocados, drink avocado smoothies, and dollop avocado on my paleo bread.

 

Things weren’t always this way, of course.  In my teens and 20s I’d subsist on Subway (double meat), Captain and Coke (double shot), and Gatorade (triple berry). 

 

When I turned forty, I thought that my days of eating bad and drinking good were behind me.  But then I met Drew.

 

Drew is sort of an anomaly in West Los Angeles. He’s a former Army-ground-pounder turned cool-rocking-daddy.  He grew up in Tennessee, and as a kid moved to the Tennessee of California: Orange County.  We met at Len’s house, another cool-rocking-daddy who has subsequently moved to the Orange County of Texas: Dallas.

 

I’m not sure exactly what Drew does for a living, but he’s always gone and always seems to go to one of two places: Norway or Mississippi.  I can only speculate…

 

Anyway, the first time my wife and I invited Drew and his wife Michelle over for dinner, Michelle brought the wine, while Drew brought something else entirely.  Like pulling a rabbit from a hat, Drew reached into a paper grocery bag and yanked out a giant bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. 

 

If you grew up like I did, then you know that CRDs are a damn staple of American childhood.  Like regular Doritos, CRDs have ingredients only a chemist would recognize, including Dextrose, Malic Acid, Red 40, Blue 1, and Yellow 5. Yet, unlike their cheesy predecessor, Cool Ranch Doritos have an Umami X-factor that delivers heaven to your taste buds. 

 

As Drew and I moseyed over to my backyard rocking chairs, I sat down and took a long sip from my whiskey, savoring the lingering sweetness. But now I had a problem. To balance things out, my taste buds craved something saltier than the Salton Sea and crunchier than Civil War hardtack.  With perfect timing, Drew tore into the giant blue bag and offered me first dibs.

 

Ushering the bag towards my face, he said, “You know you want one. Just try one, you won’t regret it.” Nodding to Dr. Feelgood, I reached into the virgin bag where all the top chips are flawless isosceles triangles.  Reaching in, I found my chosen chip, and pulled it from the bag like a priest presenting the Eucharist.

 

Holding it close to my eyes, I marveled at the chip’s precision and geometric proportion.  Feeling the salt and Cool Ranch dust on my fingers, there was only one thing left to do. Chomp.

 

Oh, the crunch!

 

Oh, the salt!

 

Oh, the Malic Acid and Yellow 5! 

 

Feeling reborn and converted, I quickly evangelized my experience.  Turning to my wife, Chanda, I said, “You gotta have one! You gotta!”  Walking over with a mix of fear and suspicion, she reached into the bag.

 

The epitome of health, fitness, and wellness, Chanda took one bite -- and boom! – every healthy intention flew out the window.  With a jolt from the salt god, she began dancing in place like a Pentecostal preacher.  Soon she reached for another, and then another and another.  After that, she began drinking more wine to wash it all down. Back and forth she went -- more chips, more wine, more chips. Oh, the vicious cycle of a gateway drug.  

 

Gaining her composure, she shoved the bag back into my arms and screamed, “Keep these away from me!” 

 

But thanks to Drew, I haven’t. I still head over to the local gas station and grab a bag, hiding it in the upper cabinet out of Chanda’s reach. On Sunday nights, with buffalo burgers sizzling on the grill and the wine flowing, I dig into my secret stash and present her with an offer she can’t refuse.     

 

It only takes a moment.  She tries to resist, but resistance is futile.  Already on her second glass of wine, it doesn’t take long before she’s garbling CRDs like Mrs. Pac Man on a coke bender.  And with every bite, she yells, “Fuck you, Drew!” and reaches for another. 

 

Warrior Monk vs. Loveable Savage

 

I recently watched a one-minute Instagram video of Jocko the SEAL talking shit about Doritos. In case you don’t know, Jocko Willink is a former Navy SEAL who wakes up at 3:30am every morning to workout.  He doesn’t drink alcohol because he’s too busy kicking ass and building a business empire of supplements, jiu jitsu gyms, and $500k speaking engagements.  Make no mistake, I love Jocko. I read his books, listen to his podcast, and even drank one of his moon juices (between margaritas) at a Jocko-sponsored Army-Navy football tailgate.  But life is short, folks. So if eating the occasional Dorito and sipping some of Kentucky’s finest makes my life a bit shorter – so be it.  

 

Remember: The Barbarian in You doesn’t seek the cold logic, iron discipline, and non-stop improvement preached by life coach optimizers on social media.  The Barbarian in You is not a warrior monk, he's a loveable savage.  He lives with Vigor, Wonder, Fellowship – and the occasional bag of Doritos.  And while he’s far from perfect, he’s even farther from boring. A full life appeals to him more than an optimal one. 

 

Drew, my friend, you are that loveable savage. Just today, you stopped by my house to say hi.  No one does that without a text… but you do.  And because you cannot make my barbarian get-together tonight, you dropped off a gift.  Over the years, you’ve given me many gifts, including two Ric Flair t-shirts, a WWF championship belt, and enough Cool Ranch Doritos to feed a frat house. And today you gave me a stainless-steel Spartan wine pourer.  

 

My wine and whiskey pour will never be the same.

You’re a goddamned national treasure, Drew Hummel, and one of the most thoughtful friends I’ve ever had. You brought Cool Ranch Doritos back to my life.  You introduced me to that new Philly Cheesesteak joint on Pico Blvd.  And every now and again on a Tuesday night, when Len’s in town and you’re not in Mississippi or Norway, you invite me over to make wonderfully bad choices involving whiskey, Doritos, and cheesesteaks.

 

Every time we hang you remind me about the accoutrements surrounding fellowship -- that giving gifts, breaking bread, and sharing laughs are all expressions of love. Finally, you remind me that life is a dance, not a marathon.  And like a good dance, we should sweat, sing, snug, and smile our way through it.  



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