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The Trained Response

The young woman answered the door. She was in her mid-twenties. She wore sweat pants and a long sleeve shirt. The night wasn’t cold. It wasn’t warm either. If Nebraska were a youth dance, Spring would be asking Winter to go with him. It would be over the phone, not in person. And only after delivering a picture of Winter that took Spring like three hours to finish the shading on her upper lip.

Winter said yes after her mother, Fall, forced her.

“You are GOING with that boy.”


She hasn’t ditched Spring to dance with her ice-queen friends yet, but it’s only March 8.

Anyway, I handed over the pizza. She handed me back the clipboard. It was time to go. I began to turn away.

With honesty and sincere sentiment, I said, “Enjoy your pizza!”

“You, too!” she said as she shut the door.

Me, too? Me, too, what? Me, too, enjoy the pizza? What pizza? There is no pizza. What pizza would I enjoy in this situation? Mmmmm, pizza.

Thus was the conversation in my head as I walked away.

This happens all the time. I bring pizza. They give me money. I give them pizza. I wish them an enjoyable experience eating it. They do the same in return.

I know better than to hold them culpable for such an easy conversational mistake. Many correct themselves. They say things like, “I mean, have a good night!” But not this gal. She fell victim to the thoughtless, trained response.

Her response was thoughtless, but not ineffective. It struck me. I enjoy pizza like my dog enjoys barking at nothing visible to the human eye. Or like my cat enjoys after-meal cleansing. Or like my kids enjoy being so very loud despite YOUR SISTER IS SLEEPING, SERIOUSLY, BE QUIET.

And, bonus, I get a free driver-sized pizza during my shift, and a drink if I want it.

My body is starting to respond. I’m training it to think that it needs to stockpile gluten, carbohydrates and protein. But mostly carbohydrates. I’m telling the cells around my neck, waist, and back that they need to kick back with a cold Pepsi and enjoy the show. The trained response?

Weight gain. I’m dumping debt. But I’m also dumpy-ing.

I’ve been warning my body for the change that will need to come. I’ve been raising the warning voice. I’ve been telling the cells to start prepping for manliness and cut muscles. I feel like a missionary again. I knock on the metaphorical door and let them know I have an important message that could save their souls. Their response?

“Oh hey, sorry, we ordered a pizza and thought you were the delivery guy.”



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