One way college changed me is that it dramatically lowered my standards for what constitutes edible food. Not only did I take serving sizes and sell by dates as polite suggestions, but I also approached meals with an “anything goes” attitude. I no longer microwaved leftovers, just ate them cold.
So even when I visited the Majestic Steakhouse last Saturday with express orders to not order any steaks—I was in Kansas City, MO (of, apparently, fountains and boulevards) with my business competition team and the lunch was paid for by our organization—I was prepared to transcend to a higher plane of existence. I ordered a dish of chicken topped with cranberries, candied walnuts, and goat cheese.
Thanks to my kryptonite, spinach and artichoke dip with bread, I’d only had two (heavenly) bites of the chicken before I had to take everything to-go. Holding the black plastic container close to my chest, I looked forward to returning to our AirBnB and finishing the glorious meal.
Only… we ended up staying at the convention center, where the competition would be held the next day, to attend various welcome events and ceremonies that I could not believe took precedence over my chicken. The hours snailed by, and I grew more and more impatient. (I mean, I was also impatient to return because we needed to practice our actual presentation, but I can’t deny the chicken’s significant role.)
Team Member 1, multiple times throughout the day: I smell your food.
Me: Well, at least someone’s enjoying it.
Team Member 2: It doesn’t smell that good.
Me: I’m sorry, what did you say to me?
Six hours later, as we were about to leave the center, Team Member 3, who’d also carried around a to-go box the entire time, asked me if I was looking forward to finally eating my chicken. Before I could scream the affirmative, Team Member 1 suggested I throw it away because it’d probably gone bad.
Me: Are you sure?
TM 1: Yeah, I mean, it’s cooked chicken and it’s been left out all day.
TM 4: Nicole, don’t do it.
Professor: Nicole, I will pay for a dinner to replace that chicken.
TM 4: We’re competing tomorrow, and you probably don’t want to be throwing up during the presentation. Unless you can hold off for fifteen and a half minutes.
Me: … Yeah, okay. Maybe I’ll just eat around it.
But while I ostensibly acquiesced, I began to very seriously consider my options. Cons of eating the chicken? I get sick and feel terrible. I get sick and screw up our presentation. I get sick and do unspeakable things to our shared AirBnb bathroom. Pros of eating the chicken?
Well, I’d get to eat the chicken. And it was hard to argue with that, so I opened Google to find results confirming what I wanted to hear. Can you eat chicken left out six hours, I typed. The first result was an AskMetaFilter forum (here, for your perusal) on “Can I eat this cooked chicken I left on our counter?”
The original poster had posed the question four years ago. She was asking about “kosher chicken parts in barbeque sauce left on kitchen counter uncovered overnight (approx. 12-14 hours).” She knew “the FDA wouldn’t recommend but [she was] looking for the hive mind.” A woman after my own heart, I thought, and scrolled down to read the replies.
Replies I Read
- 100% No.
- Do not eat this.
- Please throw this out.
- GOD NO PLEASE NO
- I’ve pulled pizzas out of the garbage can at a public park and eaten them. And I’m STILL saying OH GOD NO.
I read these replies, laughing, to my teammates.
TM 1: You’re still going to eat the chicken, aren’t you.
… I was. A higher power compelled me; I had no choice. Somehow, I knew I was meant to eat this chicken, this spiritually ordained poultry. My decision made, I texted Mom as a last-minute safeguard.
“If it smells ok” was her response. My teammates laughed uncontrollably as I smelled the chicken. Of course the chicken smelled okay, given that it was smothered in sauce. I briefly entertained the option of asking one of them to smell it, too, but ultimately figured they didn’t appreciate the gravity of this situation and savored the chicken by myself.
Oddly enough, I only slightly regretted my decision as I waited for any effects to kick in. How long to tell if you have food poisoning. How long food poisoning last. But nothing happened. I mean, there was a moment where I felt a twinge in my stomach, but I couldn’t tell if it was just me being disappointed in myself.
After we finished presenting, without my having contracted explosive diarrhea, I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. I’d fought the chicken, and I’d won. At least, I think—our presentation had a few minor hiccups and we didn’t win (not that we’d expected to). It’s like that old joke, “Have you ever thought that paper cuts are a tree’s last revenge? You cut us down; we cut you up,” except more like “you leave me out, I leave you dead.”
Please help me out and like my page on Facebook! I try to post on Sundays, and some of the time, I succeed.
Finally, three things. One, how do you like the redesign? I figured it was about time to change the logo before I got sued, given that I didn’t draw that cat. I mean, I got it from some free headers website and am not making money off this blog, but who knows how the law works. Probably lawyers.
Two, so sorry about that “C” I sent out on Tuesday. I have a lot of fears, and mistakenly publishing posts is up there.
Three, you’ve probably already heard, but a day after I posted about being paranoid about a bomb in a movie theater, a terrorist bombed an Ariana Grande concert. I was incredibly saddened by the news. It’s a cruel world we live in.