Friday, April 14, 2017

Et Tu Pancakes?

I work with the awesome youth at my church. Saying that is nearly synonymous with saying, "I have worked at a pancake breakfast!" Church youth groups and pancake breakfasts go together like youth pastors and facial hair. (Trust's a thing.) Anyway, I can't even begin to recall all the breakfasts that I have helped put on. But I can remember, in great detail, the two I was part of where I wasn't allowed to eat anything myself. The first was a number of years ago and it was for a good cause. The second was about 2 weeks ago, and I did it to myself.

Like I said, the first was for a really good cause. Our youth group raises money by doing "The 30 Hour Famine" just about every year. It is a very good program where everyone involved gives up food for 30 hours to help you reflect on those who don't have enough to eat. It raises awareness among the kids about the affluence that we are accustomed to and we get donations to help programs all over the world feed the hungry. The famine is developed by World Vision. It is a great organization and they help with suggestions for what to do to keep the kids, who are essentially locked into the church's gymnasium for a day and a half, busy and their minds off of food. It could be work projects or raising awareness games and activities or you could just sit around and listen to everyone grumble about how hungry they are. Well our old youth pastor Matt, who does have facial hair, had a bit of a mean streak. He decided that it would be a great idea (ha ha) to hold a pancake breakfast as one of our community service projects to raise money for the organization. It was tough. We survived. We were all in it together. All you had to do was look to your left or right and you could see anguished hunger on the face of the person working next to you. It was manageable.

This year I did not have similar support. Since I agreed to join this weight loss program, I was going to give it my all and get back to a body that could fit into places like airplane seats, movie theater seats, and occasional outdoor arena (not the seats...the whole arena). I was not going to sabotage myself this early in the process and undo the small but emotionally satisfying progress I had made. I showed up wearing my bravest face.

There was a hum of activity and it already smelled delicious (darn it) so I jumped right in. I was hoping to get assigned a job that wouldn't tempt me. Cutting cantaloupe? No temptation there. Pretty sure if I were stranded somewhere, desperate for food, I would crawl past a field of cantaloupe to see if there was anything left on the questionable zebra carcass that the lions were finished with. Nope, somebody already there. (good thing...the smell...yuck) My son was on scrambled egg duty and doing a fine job of it. Tables were being set. Pancake Bob was in his element. Not too much to do. "Here can take care of the sausages." (insert sound effect of cartoon cars crashing)

Sausage are a weakness of mine. Next to bacon cooking, the smell of sausage cooking is maybe number three. Anything cooking with garlic is number one...I am Italian after all. So here I am hungry, having eaten a healthy smoothie for breakfast, and I have to cook a favorite that I will not be allowed to eat. Press on! It's for a good cause!

As pancake breakfasts at churches go it was pretty standard. Lull, lull, lull, lull, UNBELIEVEABLE CROWDS, slowdown, lull, lull... In all that time, while having multiple opportunities to "sample" the sausages I was making, I never tried one. It was ridiculously difficult at times. The main problem is that they are so easily grabbed and treated as finger food. We had enough to feed our church as well as the next three closest churches. Nobody would miss it. Nope. I didn't want to write it in my food log.

Then came the clean up. There was another group using our dining room about a half hour after we were done so time was of the essence. I ran in and grabbed the first thing that I thought would make a significant cleaning impact. I grabbed all the syrup containers from the tables. You know the type. Glass jars with a silver handle and a thumb button that allows the sugary liquid heaven to pour seductively all over the pancakes. (OK, so I've got a thing for syrup too...sue me) Anyway, I grabbed about six in each hand trying to get as many handles in my grips as possible. I looked like a waiter at Octoberfest...if it was being held in Canada. The syrup had to be emptied from the containers back into the bottles and I took on that job. There's something satisfying about watching that rich, thick, artificially flavored and colored treasury of high-fructose corn syrup ooze from one container to another. True confession time: If I were stranded on an island surrounded by a maple syrup sea, not that stuff from trees...the good fake stuff. Then imagine that the trees were made of sausages. I would fashion a raft out of the "logs" to escape...and then promptly drown before getting out of the lagoon. But I would go under with a full belly and a smile on my face.

The breakfast was a success! We did make a significant amount of money. We did, we did, we did. But I didn't. I didn't eat any sausage. I didn't eat any pancakes. I didn't pour myself a cup of syrup. I didn't eat any eggs, toast, or butter. And I especially didn't eat any cantaloupe. I was good. I continue to be good. And I am happy to say that I am currently down a little over 16 pounds from my starting point. I'll just keep plugging away.
Far far away....from IHOP.

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