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Bet You Can't Eat Just One

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

Northampton, Massachusetts is an idyllic college 40 miles north of where I lived in Connecticut. Many a Sunday, when my daughter was little, we would visit there, with a stop ten minutes shy of our destination, to frolic in a massive, wooden playscape, much larger than the one pictured above.

Just this year, almost three decades later, making a trip along the same route to visit our cousin in Vermont, my daughter reported, "The wooden playground isn’t there anymore." I responded, "That playscape was much too dangerous for the way people sue today. You were a kid during peak playground."

My early childhood had its own peak. Before video games, the internet and parents ferrying their offspring to multiple after-school activities, amusement we made for ourselves. Living in the far corner of West Hartford, where the suburb adjoined the much more rural town of Bloomfield, it wasn't exactly the stuff of Huckleberry Finn, but, we had our wooded brooks and paths, our dreams and adventures.

My home life was another story altogether, but elementary school for me, 1962-68, was remarkably like something you might have seen on Leave It to Beaver. Of course there was some teasing, but nothing approaching bullying. It was a safe, naive, innocent time to be a kid, at least where I was.

I remember the kids at my lunch table asking me to tell another joke, and my trying to explain to them that I needed to extemporize, to improvise on something that was already going on.

Not only are memories from that time vague, but the child's brain perceives differently than the adult brain. For example, particularly in boys, the brain's frontal lobe is not fully developed until after adolescence. Lacking the rational, thoughtful functions that the frontal lobe provides, male teenagers are much more likely to engage in reckless, life-threatening behaviors. (Adolescent girl's, whose frontal lobes mature more rapidly than boys', have their own brain-based reasons for acting foolishly.)

Despite neurological and time-induced vagueness, I know that I sat at lunch with Johnny Nelson, the best athlete and most popular kid in our grade. (Years later I heard that he could have made the NBA. Who knows?) I myself could get the ball over the plate consistently so they made me pitcher on our class' baseball team. We'd switch from softball to hardball when the teachers weren't looking.

I know I sat at lunch with Johnny Nelson, because I remember him sharing one or two of his Frito Corn Chips with me and our other table-mates (David Title and Larry D'Orsi as I recall). Man, I liked those corn chips.

Here in San Miguel, lunch is always a glass of fresh carrot-cucumber-beet-celery-ginger juice, usually with an open avocado sandwich, often with a little pickled herring on top.

At first it felt weird, out of sync, eating bread here in Mexico, where the corn tortilla is the staff of life, but poco a poco (little by little) I am making peace with my contradictions. I do like a wheat flour tortilla wrapped around my beans (there again, a burrito is Tex-Mex, not an authentically Mexican creation), but I've never developed a taste for its common corn cousin.

Today I'm up here alone at my girlfriend Veronica's place. Summer almost over, she and her fellow teachers are onsite in Atotonilco getting the school and especially themselves ready for the return of the kids next week.

Lunchtime, an hour or so ago, after making my juice, I cut a slice of bread and prepared to toast it. Then, thinking twice, I put it back in the bag. Vero has had a house guest visiting for the last few days and together have made short work of the beautiful loaf of rye bread I brought from Buonforno's three days ago. That's fine. I can buy another.

But standing there slice in hand, as the juicer slowly whirled to a stop, not wanting to further consume her already depleted bread supply, I remembered that last week I had put some stale totopos (those large, triangular corn chips) in her toaster oven and that they had come out crisp again (crujiente: crunchy, crisp, crusty, creaking, rustling). I found those resurrected totopos filling a zip-lock bag under the counter and ate my guacamole with them, enjoying them more than I would have enjoyed a slice of bread.

Yes, totopos are a different shape and size than Johnny Nelson's Fritos were, but they taste the same, at least as far as I can remember over these many years. And, anyway, isn't taste in the mouth of the beholder?

Perhaps I am entering my second childhood. Perhaps it all comes back to what the world was like when we were young, before that intellectual frontal lobe took control.

More and more I suspect that the point of everything lies in recapturing the playful innocence of youth, when everything was just and fully what it was: the baseball flying over home plate, the babbling forest brook dividing around a large flat rock, making the guys laugh at the lunchroom table, getting one of Johnny Nelson's Fritos.

The Spanish version of the old Frito's motto, "Bet you can't eat just one," is on the side of the Sabritos delivery trucks around town, "A que no puedes comer sólo." But when Johnny Nelson was only giving one, one was all that you could eat.

Abundance, I'm learning, is not something one earns or acquires. It's something one accepts. It's taken me a long time to forgive the emotional poverty I experienced as a child. The totopos were under the counter for a long time before I allowed myself to enjoy them.

Richness, it has occurred to me, is an attitude towards life, something found within. If you are hoarding or guarding what you already have, or focused on what is missing, then you don't feel the abundant. Abundance means that there is enough to go around. Sharing increases your capacity to enjoy, whether it's a meal, your wealth or the company of others. That's what community, friendliness, social unity is.

What the world needs now is social unity. Building community is what my Lokkal does. Please see more.

Nowadays lunch has come full circle. I'm back to corn chips. But now I don't have to eat just one. Now, with apologies to the hardest working man in show business, Papa's got a whole bag of corn chips.


Dr David and his merry band believe that the new expanded Lokkal will change the world, city by city.

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