Dennis O’Neil: Consuming Mass Quantities
It was late in the evening before we found a place where a pair of oldsters with a nodding acquaintance with heart attacks and strokes might find nourishment. A pizza joint, it was. A pizza joint with few customers but a pretty high decibel level. I ordered penne with roasted vegetables. Yummy? We’ll see. The service was, to be charitable, unhurried, but eventually the stuff arrived. A lot of it. I could have gotten four or five home meals from what the wait-person presented. I finished about half.
The next morning, as is my on-the-road custom, I ordered room service pancakes. No complaint about service this time – the meal arrived before it was promised. But again… this was a single serving? Five pancakes, wide and thick: at home – three or four meals. But I ate the lot of them, maybe because I like pancakes more than I like penne with roasted vegetables and afterward, feeling a bit bloated and bottom-heavy, I experienced a guilt pang. Had I been gluttonous? Not that gluttony is a hanging offense. (Is it even a mortal sin? I bow to my school teachers and Others Who Know.)
And here, we begin to slip into murky regions. How do we define gluttony? How much is too much? When does a pile become a heap? A hill become a mountain? Maybe my pig-out is your satisfying snack.
Maybe you can judge when something is too much by the results it produces. I did not feel awfully chipper after that penne dish and maybe millions of my fellow citizens experience similar discomfort after a meal and here we might be tempted to launch into a diatribe about national health crises and such. But let’s not. Instead, let’s go to the movies.
We should have no trouble finding seats. It’s been kind of lonely in the multiplexes lately. Ticket sales have been dismal. The summer’s receipts are 22.2 percent lower than last year’s. And still, the entertainment we get in those holy darknesses is long and, like the pizzeria, very, very loud. Why defeat one villain when we can vanquish a dozen? Just one explosion? What are we, pikers? One hero? Okay, but doesn’t the budget allow us to hire five? More? Same with bad guys. Let’s have our protagonist(s) mow down a battalion.
And as you leave he theater, do you feel that all that sound and fury left you feeling satisfied, or just bloated? Or did you even go to the theater? There’s the hassle with parking and it’ll cost you a twenty to get you and a mate past the ticket taker and so… you may decide to become a member of that 22.2 percent of moviegoers who became ex-moviegoers. I mean, if you’ve seen a hundred explosions you’ve pretty much seen explosions and they’ll look the same when you see them on your television screen, only smaller.
The day after I had the pancakes, I ordered the same breakfast. I expect we’ll get to the movies sometime soon.