Grilled Market Salad and the Art of Finding Happiness in Simplicity After 50
I am a woman of amazingly simple tastes – well, for the purposes of this blog post anyway. I’m not at all opposed to fancy and luxurious gifts if you want to surprise me. Think spa day. But back to my point, one of the simplest pleasures I have found in life is the Chick-fil-A Grilled Market Salad.
No kidding, I am absolutely wild about this salad. It’s no esoteric recipe of exotic ingredients by any means, but when combined according to the precise guidelines of corporately-produced cuisine, I’m telling you, these rather mundane elements reach sublime heights of deliciousness.
The Story of Salad Days
I first became enamored of this salad last year and my husband and I have made it part of our weekly routine ever since. Every Saturday, we walk the dog at the park and then head to Chick-fil-A for our market salad lunch. It is “our” thing.
During this year’s beastly Atlanta summer – 90+ days of 90+ temperatures, the second hottest summer on record – the only thing that kept me putting one sweaty foot in front of the other on the three-mile trail was the thought of the salad that awaited me at the end. That, and the large diet Coke.
But somewhere around early fall, my salad love starting sliding closer and closer to salad obsession. I craved it day and night. That exquisite last bite, the one with the perfect blend of blue cheese, walnuts and dressing clinging to the final bits of field greens and chicken, became the stuff of my dreams. The days of the week were no longer Monday or Tuesday to me, but rather, five-days-til-Chick-fil-A-day, four-days-til-Chick-fil-A-day and so on.
And then I completely crossed over to the dark side. One day after I finished teaching my morning class, I drove straight to Chick-fil-A and ate a market salad… alone… without telling my husband!
Soon, my car was headed that way every day after class. My hands actually shook as I gripped the steering wheel, partly from shame, but mostly in anticipation of the sweet relief my fix would bring. I felt so guilty, but I could neither bring myself to stop nor confess to my husband that I’d defiled “our” thing by selfishly making it “my” thing.
A Day of Reckoning
And then it happened. They say all cheaters secretly want to be caught and will unconsciously slip up to bring about their discovery. A silent cry for help, if you will. My day of reckoning came when I had to get my salad to go because I was expected on a conference call on my home phone.
After the call, I sat down in my kitchen, ate my salad and then without “thinking,” tossed the empty container on the top of the recycling bin…the very day that my husband takes the bin out to the curb for pick up. Tell me I wasn’t dying to come clean!
“Oh, when did you go to Chick-fil-A?” my husband asked that evening when he saw the container.
I froze in my tracks. I was tempted to concoct a story about finding the container in the parking lot at school and bringing it home to dispose of properly, but I “womanned” up and confessed that I’d been going to Chick-Fil-A for lunch almost every day. I braced myself for the fall out.
“Wow, you really like that salad, don’t you? I couldn’t stand to eat the same thing every day,” he said casually. Then he carried the bin to the curb. That was it.
At first I was relieved that he’d taken my cheating in stride, but then I got to thinking about the implications. Maybe he was so cool about my cheating because he’s doing some cheating of his own.
Dear God, I thought, could he be eating peanut M&Ms without me? Sneaking off with a bag of Reese’s minis? Stopping for a pint of salted caramel gelato with the boys after work? Obviously, these are issues that need to be explored in my marriage, and I will explore them. But right now, I have to run. It’s almost lunch time and there’s a market salad out there with my name on it!
Do you have regular outings that you share with your spouse, that have become “your” thing? Is there a TV show you enjoy together that you have secretly watched alone? Can you identify with the author’s feeling of having “cheated” by going for salad alone? Please join the conversation.